MOSCOW, February 8 - RAPSI. Political competition is essential for the country's development, but no incident of extremism should go unpunished, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Extremist organizations should be prevented in their operations through the use of "tough measures," while swift action should be taken against the slightest manifestation of extremism, the President said at the Interior Ministry boards annual meeting.

Putin stressed that political competition and public debate should only take place according to the law and the Constitution. Xenophobia and national and religious intolerance threaten Russia's unity, he said, noting that combating extremism is a priority task.