Russia must clamp down on all forms of extremism: Putin
Russia must clamp down on all forms of extremism, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday following a series of racist riots in Moscow and other cities.
"Russia must suppress all manifestations of extremism, on all sides, wherever they may come from," Putin said in a regular question-and-answer session with the Russian people.
"We should not be painting people from the Caucasus or people of other nationalities with the same broad strokes," the Russian prime minister said in the nationally televised comments.
Putin's comments came a day after police detained more than 1,000 youths in Moscow and other cities in a national security sweep aimed at staving off ethnic riots from erupting following the deadly shooting of a football fan by a Muslim suspect.
The police's handling of previous demonstrations, particularly those staged by the opposition, have come under strong criticism by Russian human rights groups and international organisations.
But Putin defended the work of the police, saying that the law enforcement authorities played a vital function for the state.
"We must strictly suppress any extreme manifestations, and our society -- including our liberal public -- must understand that," Putin said.
"There has been a lot of fair criticism about the work of the law enforcement authorities, including that of the police," he said.
"But we must understand that these law enforcement authorities are performing a vital function for the state, and that their work should not be ridiculed."
Sniping at Russia's sidelined liberal opposition, he added: "Otherwise, our liberal intelligentsia will have to shave off its beards any put on (police) helmets and walk on the squares themselves."
© 2010 AFP