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27 Feb, 2010 16:12

North Caucasus still a concern – Medvedev

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has reiterated that stabilizing the North Caucasus remains the country’s most-serious concern, during a visit to the volatile region.

Medvedev says improving social and economic conditions is the key to solving its problems.

At a meeting with security forces in the city of Nalchik, in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Medvedev also mentioned that widespread corruption was deep-rooted in the area.

He pledged to continue cleaning up law enforcement across the country, including the Caucasus.

“The main problems are well-known – the remaining extremist militant groups, who are spreading like cancer, and corruption” Medvedev said adding that “the key to solving those problems” is improving the socio-economic situation in the region.

He also added that the level of training of law-enforcement agents will be the most important factor in the region.

Medvedev has already fired around 20 high-ranking officials nationwide, in what is being seen as a major step towards overhauling the police.

He promised to take similar action in North Caucasus republics, where there has been a surge of violence.

The president deployed a new envoy, Aleksandr Khloponin, to the area last month to tackle to the root causes of unrest.

Medvedev added, however, that the officials should not expect Khloponin “to solve the problems of the North Caucasus single-handedly, rather the entire government has to cooperate to help him in his quest.