Caucasus situation tough, statistics 'nonsense': Medvedev
President Dmitry Medvedev Friday offered a bleak assessment of the situation in Russia's Caucasus, saying there was little improvement in security and statistics from the region were often "nonsense".
He said the situation in the Northern Caucasus, which has been beset by Islamic militancy over the last years, remained "very difficult".
"It needs to be acknowledged that it has practically not improved" in recent times, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying on a visit to the town of Essentuki in the foothills of the Caucasus.
Medvedev recited a string of statistics about crime in the Northern Caucasus region, including that the number of crimes had gone up five percent and the rate of crimes solved had fallen by 10 percent.
But in a startling warning to officials he added: "Our statistics are deceptive, there is no faith in them.
"I tell the chiefs of our security forces. There is no faith in these statistics. It's often just nonsense."
The Kremlin has been fighting insurgents in the North Caucasus since the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a war in 1994-1996 against separatist rebels in Chechnya.
After a second war in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.
Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus such as Dagestan and Ingushetia.
© 2010 AFP