President Putin (file photo)
23 September 2005 -- President Vladimir Putin today severely criticized authorities in Russia's southern republics, accusing them of corruption and of having a clan mentality.
Meeting with regional leaders at the Kremlin, Putin also said law enforcement agencies in Russia's south are inefficient despite the fact that the area has "one of the highest ratio of police officers, not only in Russia, but also in Europe."
Putin also accused leaders of Russia's southern regions of arbitrariness and cronyism. His criticism echoed comments made in the recent past by Dmitrii Kozak, his envoy to Russia's Southern Federal District -- an administrative entity that includes the Northern Caucasus republics.
Reports say Kozak has repeatedly warned Putin against the risks of destabilization in the North Caucasus. The region has seen increasing violence in recent months.