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.