According to official data made public by Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, there are about 5,000 extremist-minded citizens united in about 500 groups. But unofficial data, which the Federal Security Service (FSB) officers are discussing seriously, say there are at least 25,000 such people and the majority of them (up to 90%) are aged 14 to 25.
They lack knowledge but are eager to take revenge, and it does not matter much on whom and for what. A substantial part of responsibility for this lies with their older "comrades revolutionaries" from among opposition politicians.
It is not strange that 90% of the members of extremist organizations are young boys and girls, said a staff member of the FSB anti-terror section who wished to remain anonymous. But it is frightening, he said, that 10% are people with firm positions in life and who frequently have combat experience. These leaders, who attract the young with their authority and knowledge, are the organizers and inspirers.
The FSB officer said agents remained the key method for discovering crimes, but it was almost impossible to infiltrate such closed groups, as they have strict hierarchies that are sworn to secrecy.
It is not surprising that the authorities were not prepared for the occupation of the reception room at the presidential administration by Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party, the attempt on the life of Anatoly Chubais, the head of the national electricity giant head Unified Energy Systems of Russia, and the bombing of a Grozny-Moscow train (investigators seem to be favoring the "national extremist" version).
As the 2007 parliamentary and 2008 presidential elections approach, extremists might stage their operations considerably more often, some politicians and experts warn.