Russia: Putin warns against ignoring nationalism
Moscow: While warning against ignoring nationalism, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that any negative tendency in inter-ethnic relations should be dealt with promptly.
Speaking at the first session of the Presidential Council for Inter-ethnic Relations, Putin said that most conflicts originate at a local level and "this is exactly when they should and must be efficiently solved".
The Russian President also said that he would instruct his special envoys to federal districts to pay "utmost attention" to ethnic issues.
"We have no right to ignore any negative tendencies that appear in this sphere, and we must understand that such conflicts can not only undermine our statehood, but also shatter its foundations," he said.
Regional nationalist groups that became active in Russia in recent years "provoke separatist and divisive tendencies in our country", he said.
Putin blamed the recent violent ethnic clashes, such as in Kondopoga on the Finnish border and on the Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, on inaction by law-enforcers and local officials' irresponsibility.
Kondopoga experienced a wave of racial violence, including mass brawls and arson attacks, in early September 2006 after two local residents were killed and five others injured in a restaurant brawl with ethnic Chechens on August 30.
The incident sparked racially motivated violence in the community, and a wave of nationalist protests elsewhere in the country.
The Russian capital saw its biggest public disturbances for almost a decade in 2010 when a 5,000-strong crowd of nationalists and football hooligans clashed with police.