Vladimir Putin to strengthen the Kremlin’s grip

Responding to a spate of deadly terror attacks, President Vladimir Putin announced a series of anti-terror initiatives Monday that would strengthen the Kremlin's grip on every layer of Russian political life.

Putin told Cabinet members and security officials convened in special session that the future of Russia was at stake, and called for creation of a powerful anti-terror agency.

"The organizers and perpetrators of the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/ 22/98/386/14068_terrorism.html ' target=_blank> terror attack are aiming at the disintegration of the state, the breakup of Russia," he said. "We need a single organization capable of not only dealing with terror attacks but also working to avert them, destroy criminals in their hideouts and, if necessary, abroad.", ABC News informed.

"But it is not enough for the government to offer tears and words of support.... We have achieved practically no visible results in our fight against terror," he went on.

"First and foremost we have failed to eliminate the source of terror."

His message to an emergency gathering, which included governors and leaders of Russia's dozens of republics and provinces, was that only a tighter grip from the centre - from the Kremlin in Moscow - would foil those whose goal he claimed was nothing less than to force the country's disintegration, BBC News reported.

According to the Reuters, the president later issued a decree giving the government two weeks to draft proposals to deal with emergencies and a month to prepare "appropriate measures on foreseeing and preventing terrorism in any form."

It called for proposals to improve the work of security forces, whose performance in Beslan has been widely criticized, and to toughen controls on issuing visas and entering Russia.

Critics said Putin's proposed changes were further proof that the former &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/03/27/3188.html ' target=_blank> KGB spy, who has muzzled major independent media and turned parliament and government into rubber stamps of Kremlin policy, was rolling back post-Soviet democracy.

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