Prime Minister Putin says he would like ethnic diversity in the former Soviet Union, but would urge that immigrants also learn and respect the Russian language and Russian culture, frankly a challenge he will fail (in my opinion) to accomplish as Muslims flow into Russia in large numbers.
(Reuters) – 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.
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.
Putin is steering a fine line between Orthodox Christian ethnic Russians, some of whom fear labor migration and higher birth rates among Russia’s Muslims, and ethnic tensions which could challenge his vision of a centralized, united, Russia.
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.
We have heard it all before.