President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered Russia's top security service to “detect and curb provocations" by extremists ahead of elections.
"It is quite possible that the criminal insurgency in the North Caucasus could become more active during the [presidential] election campaign," Medvedev warned, speaking at the Federal Security Service’s headquarters in Moscow. "I demand, therefore, that you increase the effectiveness of your efforts in this area during that period."
His remarks came days after the leader of Islamist rebels in Russia's North Caucasus, Doku Umarov, ordered fighters under his command to halt attacks on Russia's civilian population, saying it no longer supports Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Putin, the main architect of Moscow's military campaign in the Caucasus, is widely expected to win a third term as president in the March 4 election.
Compiled from agency reports