Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he fears the growing unrest in north Africa will strengthen radical groups, which could have a negative impact on Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.
A wave of unrest, which has already toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, is sweeping through the Muslim world, stoking mass popular uprisings in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen.
"We are concerned that radical groups will come to power or be strengthened, despite soothing reports that this is unlikely," Putin said.
The strengthening of radical movements "will affect other parts of the world, including the North Caucasus," Putin said.
Russia has been fighting Islamist insurgents in the mainly-Muslim North Caucasus republics since the late 1990s. Terrorist attacks are common in the region and have spread to other areas of Russia, including Moscow, on numerous occasions.
Speaking at a session of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee in Vladikavkaz, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that the revolutions sweeping the Arab world could have a "direct impact" on Russia, particularly the North Caucasus.
He said the unrest in the Arab world could cause large, densely-populated states to "fall to pieces," clearing the path for fanatics to take power.
BRUSSELS, February 24 (RIA Novosti)