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North Caucasus militants must be eliminated - Medvedev

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia must maintain a tough line against militant and criminal groups in the North Caucasus, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday.

"As far as these criminals are concerned, our policy remains the same," Medvedev said during a meeting with Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

"They should simply be eliminated, and this must be done systematically," he added. "I would like the FSB, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and other bodies, to deal with this."

"Our task is to create normal living conditions in our southern republics," the president also said, adding that this meant social-economic development and the creation of new employment opportunities.

Bortnikov responded by expressing confidence that the system in place to battle militant groupings would continue to operate effectively.

Russia's North Caucasus republics, in particular Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya, saw a sharp rise in militant activity in 2009.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed at least 5 police officers and wounded 24 others in an attack in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan.

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