"[These elections] are a very important democratic mechanism of shaping bodies of state power, elected as a result of healthy political competition," Putin told officials from the FSB state security service.
"In this regard, it is important not only to ensure law and order, but also to protect society from attempts to bring ideologies of extremism, ethnic, and religious intolerance to the social and political field."
Putin said more must be done to close "loopholes" for international terrorists and secure Russia's border in the North Caucasus.
(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, AP)
Yusuf Sultonov, whose 9-year-old daughter was beaten and stabbed to death in St. Petersburg on February 9, 2004 (TASS)
EXTREMISM ASCENDANT: More than half of Russians have xenophobic views, according to a report published in August 2005. In the report, rights groups say that -- despite progress in some areas -- racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism remain rife in Russia. But what worries watchdogs most are recent moves by nationalist-patriotic movements to form paramilitary groups....(more)
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