Putin Warns Ethnic Tensions Risk Tearing Russia Apart

Gleb Bryanski, Reuters, January 23, 2012

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, warning ethnic tensions could tear Russia apart, said on Monday he would toughen migration rules and keep a tight rein on Russia’s regions to prevent it following the Soviet Union into oblivion.

In a newspaper article and an address in southern Russia, Putin used the danger of ethnic discord to call for limits on electoral reforms.

“With the collapse of the country (the Soviet Union), we were on the edge—and in some regions over the edge—of civil war,” Putin wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

“With great effort, with great sacrifice we were able to douse these fires. But that doesn’t mean that the problem is gone,” he wrote in the second of a series of articles promoting his leadership goals ahead of a March 4 presidential election.

Putin, in power since 2000 and favored to win a six-year presidential term in March, described a Soviet-style vision of a country in which the rights of ethnic minorities would be respected but Russian language and culture would dominate.

“The Russian people, the Russian culture is the glue holding together the unique fabric of this civilization,” Putin wrote.

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Thousands of nationalists have protested in Moscow over migration and state subsidies to the mostly Muslim North Caucasus, where an Islamist insurgency rooted in the Chechen wars persists.

Comparing nationalism to a disease, Putin took aim at ethnic Russian nationalists, who have been among the 59-year-old prime minister’s most vociferous critics.

“If a multiethnic society is infected by nationalism, it loses its strength and durability,” Putin wrote. “We need to understand what far-reaching effects can be caused by attempts to inflame national enmity and hatred.”

He said minorities must live under the umbrella of Russian culture, and migrants must pass exams in Russian language and history. Authorities should be given more power to vet migrants’ professional skills and students should read some 100 national classics.

But he also said the best way to stem migration was by creating favorable conditions for citizens to work in their native regions.

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Yet in a sign he will not reverse a consolidation of power in Moscow, Putin said he could not allow regional political parties because some could be created on ethnic lines, calling it a “direct path to separatism.”

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve always admired Putin’s resolve, seriousness, and Russian pride; even if he is a power-hungry lunatic.  I’ll be more impressed if the Russian army starts driving out the Muslims from Russian lands.

    • Anonymous

      Ethnically homogeneous societies are always the most peaceful and productive.

      For the good of “Mother Russia”, Comrade Vladimir should ship all the Muslims back home where they belong.  They’re invaders.  The Russians should expel them from Russian land the same way the USSR did to the Germans in the ’40s.

      • Anonymous

        The problem,as goes the cliché,  is that they didn’t come to Russia, Russia came to them.

  • I say loud and clear:

    A national should not allow itself to become infected with multiple ethnicities and cultures.

    That is the way to peace and a viable future.

  • Anonymous

    Hmm. that’s funny, because one of the weathiest most powerful country on the planet is China and they seem to be doing just fine without all this “diversity”.

    • I think you have confused China with Japan, because Japan has a much more homogeneous population than China.
      If you do your research, you will find that China gets her share with ethnic diversity in Tibet and Xinjiang. However, the Han Chinese are not stupid to import those people en masse into the “mainland” or to run a policy of “inclusiveness and tolerance.”

  • Anonymous

    It appears Putin has been watching too much European TV. To actually compare nationalism to a disease just shows how diseased Putin’s mind has become. Remember, Putin is a veteran KGB chief, and during the cold-war would have been an uber-nationalist!. Now he is just a European liberal. He said “If a multi-ethnic society is infected by nationalism, it loses it’s strength and durability”. This could have come straight from the mouth of Bill Clinton or Tony Blair. Does Putin not know that it is only in nationalism, with it’s ‘commonism’, can a society not only survive, but THRIVE. What a turnaround – from hardline KGB communist to to wet european liberal. The forces of darkness are indeed strong!. 

  • Bardon Kaldian

    The majority of posters here are clueless about situation in Russia. There are many not very numerous peoples in Siberia (Ostyaks, Samoyeds, Chukches, Evenks,..), who can be compared to American Indians/Native Americans.  They are not a threat, they live in autonomous republics- something equivalent to reservations in Dakota or Oklahoma.
    The real problem starts with Muslim peoples around Caucasus (Chechens, Ingushs,..). They’ve been conquered in the 19th century & live in an area superabundant with natural reserves (gas, oil,..). They have a high birth rate, but also- they’re not very numerous (Chechens are ca. 1.2 M, as I recall). Russia is ethnically more than 80% Russian, and could be 90% if Russians living in Ukraine or Lithuania or Kazakhstan came to their mother country (there are ca. 40 M Russians outside of Russia). So, Russia is in a much better demographic position re dominant population than the US.

    And Putin is correct with regards the main points:

    a) Russification of smaller, especially Muslim peoples

    b) atheization of Muslims

    c) suppression of extreme Russian nationalism which is counter-productive (killings of “dark” looking citizens, for instance Georgians or Armenians)

    Of course, Stalin would simply deport Chechens and other “suspicious” nations to Siberia- which he (or, his henchman Beria) did in 1941. They- MVD/KGB- deported ca. 1.5 M people in just two weeks, and only 0.6 M survived, 900 K perished from hunger or freezing. Just, these are different times now ….

  • Er2rq

    While I agree with nationalism, there is an extreme nationalism that even I wouldn’t want.

    Extreme of anything is bad. Lets all keep that in mind.

  • .

    Once upon a time Putin dominated Russian politics and had everything his own way. But no longer. With his waning popularity, he’s become a shadow of his former self. He’s now just another political prostitute turning tricks to stay in power.