Putin sees threat from illegal immigrants

June 11, 2013 at 9:19 AM

MOSCOW, June 11 (UPI) -- Russian law enforcement officials should deal harshly with the threat posed by ethnic and religious extremism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Putin told a meeting of top defense and security officials he was concerned by the threat posed by extremists tied to criminal elements and illegal immigrants.

He said law enforcement officials should focus specifically on the threat posed by ethnic and religious extremism.

"We must harshly suppress the activities of organized criminal groups formed along ethnic lines," he was quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti as saying Monday. "We should also fully implement our decisions regarding the struggle with illegal migration, including the tightening of relevant laws."

The Russian Federal Security Service in May characterized illegal immigration as a primary national security threat for the country. RIA Novosti reports about 60 percent of the 5 million migrant workers in Russia are in the country illegally.

Putin's restrictive policies have irritated human rights groups who expressed concern he was working to silence any of his critics. A law passed last year requires civil society organizations to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from abroad.

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