MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin told the FSB security service on Monday to ensure Russia did not follow what he said was Ukraine's example by letting the West use local groups for "destructive" purposes.
Putin's remarks signaled his lingering concern that the West could use non-governmental organizations to fuel dissent in Russia, despite a clampdown on groups funded from abroad since big protests against him in the winter of 2011-12.
He also urged the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet KGB security police, not to drop its guard against militant attacks following the Sochi Winter Olympics and to strengthen vigilance in the Arctic and to the south to prevent attacks on Russia.
"We must clearly differentiate between legal opposition activity, as is in every democratic country, and extremism, which is built on hatred, inciting national and international discord, and defying the law and the constitution," Russian media quoted Putin as telling a meeting of FSB leaders.
"We need to tell the difference between civilized opponents of the authorities and the serving of foreign national interests that harm our country," he said.
Russia has accused the West of supporting protests in Kiev that brought down Ukraine's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovich. The West has dismissed the accusations.
(Reporting by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Steve Gutterman)