Staunton, February 20 – At a meeting of the collegium of the Federal Security Service, Vladimir Putin said he expects FSB officers to “nip in the bud all calls for aggression and force” and that “any manifestations of nationalism and religious hostility must be blocked” (tass.ru/politika/7804003 and nazaccent.ru/content/32289-putin-postavil-pered-fsb-zadachu-presekat.html).
The Kremlin leader has made similar appeals in the past, but his decision to reiterate them now and particularly to give such high profile coverage to his directives are important for two reasons. On the one hand, Putin’s words almost certainly will unleash a new wave of FSB harassment and arrests of ethnic and religious activists.
And on the other, this statement suggests that he may be more worried about such ethnic and religious activism than he has been – after all, polls show ethnic and religious tensions growing as the Crimea is Ours euphoria fields and wants to make sure that everyone knows he will back new repressions against both national communities and religious ones.
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