MOSCOW, March 5 - RAPSI. Stating that the number of extremist crimes committed in Russia increased by nearly 12% last year, President Vladimir Putin called on prosecutors to take on the threat of extremism during a board meeting held Tuesday at the Prosecutor General's Office.

After detailing the statistics to support his concern with extremism, Putin voiced concern with the fact that a number of extremist groups are acting especially bold and aggressive.

"They are holding public rallies, spreading their propaganda on the Internet, and recruiting supporters almost openly," Putin said. "It is your direct responsibility to address in the most definite and uncompromising way any attempts to incite ethnic and religious hatred, and to promote xenophobia and chauvinism."

"We need to act consistently and in accordance with the law, and avoid double standards and bias," he said.

This was a reiteration of Putin's call last month for police to take a stronger stance against exremism. 

The president said during an Interior Ministry board meeting held on February 8 that while political competition essential to Russian development, all organizations should be prevented from using "tough measures," while swift action should be taken against the slightest manifestation of extremist.

He added that xenophobia and national and religious intolerance threaten Russia's unity, noting that combating extremism is a priority task.