President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (L) and Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov (R) talk at the meeting of the BRICS delegation heads. The BRICS delegation is attended by the heads of state or heads of government of the five member states Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Photo by Alexei Danichev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)
MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian security agencies to act more harshly to fend off foreign attempts to destabilize the restive North Caucasus region ahead of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Addressing Monday's meeting of the presidential Security Council, Putin said unspecified "foreign countries and public and international organizations under their control keep seeing the North Caucasus as a foothold for destabilizing Russia as a whole."
He urged Russian security agencies to "act more harshly to thwart such attempts."
Putin added that "neutralizing the terrorist and criminal threats is particularly important in connection with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi."
The North Caucasus region has been engulfed by an Islamist insurgency following two separatist wars in Chechnya.
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