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Russian forces kill over 250 militants in North Caucasus in 2014 — interior minister

Over 400 members of illegal armed groups and their allies were detained

MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. Russian security forces killed more than 250 militants in the volatile North Caucasus region last year and detained over 400 members of illegal armed groups and their allies, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said on Wednesday.

"Our special task is to work together with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to counteract terrorism and the most serious forms of extremism," Kolokoltsev told "government hour" in the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament.

"In 2014, more than 250 armed group members were eliminated as a result of cooperative activities and joint special operations in the North Caucasus Federal District. Over 400 members of illegal military formations and their allies were detained," he said.

Cooperation with investigation and prosecution agencies, and the FSB, made it possible to clamp down on eight extremist groups and two terrorist organisations, the minister said.

More than 350 publications deemed extremist were included in the Federal List of Extremist Materials. This contained more than 1,000 items, mostly related to banned religious and ultra-nationalist groups or those deemed to have a fascist ideology.

Tens of thousands of banned extremist materials, including over 85,000 flags, symbols and attributes, were seized during investigative operations, he added.

Over the past 10 years, Russian law enforcement authorities had consistently revealed manifestations of extremist behaviour, Kolokoltsev said, noting more than 1,000 incidents recorded last year.

"The number of perpetrators identified has grown by a quarter," he said, adding that most crimes and offences related to extremist activity had been detected over the Internet.

The number of extremist-related crimes revealed increased by 39% last year, the minister said. "More than 2,000 pieces of online extremist material were removed from the Web," he said. "Over 700 websites were blocked. About 1,000 people were brought to justice."