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Medvedev: Caucasus Murders Aim at Destabilizing S. Russia

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says he believes the recent murders of prominent figures in the Caucasus are aimed at undermining stability in southern Russia.

The Russian leader specifically mentioned the murders of several human rights activists and local officials in the area, blaming the killings on unidentified foreigners.  He also instructed pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to find and punish those responsible for the latest killing.

Mr. Medvedev spoke in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi after talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German leader strongly condemned the recent murders, including that of Chechen rights activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband and urged Russian authorities to punish those responsible.

Earlier, Russian authorities reported four police officers and five militants killed Friday in shooting incidents in Chechnya and Dagestan.

Talks between the two leaders focused on economic issues.

They included the ongoing negotiations for Canada's Magna International and Russia's Sberbank car companies to buy Opel, the German unit of bankrupt American automaker General Motors.

Germany is Russia's biggest trade partner in Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters. 

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