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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Targets Extremists

President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday ordered a crackdown on extremist groups trying to exploit the economic crisis by sowing unrest.

"Extremist actions are especially dangerous in the current conditions," Medvedev said at a meeting with top prosecutors. "In many instances, they are directly linked to attempts to destabilize ... our society.

"You have the right to ask courts to liquidate relevant public and religious organizations and suspend their activities pending a court decision," he said.

The Kremlin has described racist groups and radical religious and political organizations as "extremist" in the past. But human rights activists and some opposition groups have accused the Kremlin of using legislation on extremism as a pretext to clamp down on legitimate dissent.

Medvedev said earlier this month that racist attacks were on the rise and were a threat to national security.

Medvedev on Wednesday also urged prosecutors to improve their performance at jury trials. He said jury trials, relatively rare in Russia, are "a separate legal art" that prosecutors must master.

Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin on Wednesday lamented prosecutors' failure to convince jurors that three men charged with killing investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya were guilty. He said he believed the suspects were guilty.