Sunday, March 24, 2024

Election Over, Putin Regime Turns Its Attention to Nationality Problems

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 20 – Vladimir Putin has always been concerned that elections have the potential to spark nationality problems and has done what he could to prevent that from happening by having his spokesman and the media he controls play down those issues during campaigns.

            But once the elections take place, the Kremlin leader routinely has turned to the nationality problem, an indication of its continuing importance in the minds of Russia’s rulers even if all of them, including Putin, like to suggest that there are no serious ethnic issues and that everything is under control.

            This time around is no different. There have been three noteworthy developments on this front that suggest larger ones may be coming:

First, Vladimir Putin told FSB officers that they must step up work to counter efforts to “provoke a time of troubles, inter-ethnic conflicts ... and use Russophobia and any other form of intolerance” (

Putin has always relied on the FSB as his key vehicle for managing nationality policy, but this address to senior officers of that agency is in some ways his most serious because he links efforts to promote inter-ethnic conflicts and Russophobia to the idea that outside forces are trying to push Russia into a new time of troubles.

Second, Gennady Semigin, head of the Duma’s nationality affairs committee, called for the adoption of “a new national project – Multi-National Russia,” to resolve “problems of interethnic relations” in the Russian Federation (

Doing so would be to create the sixth such project, alongside the family and other issues. The prospects for this at least under the title Semigin proposes are somewhat problematic as many in the Putin regime want to stop talking about the multinational population of the Russian Federation and instead stress its common Russianness.

And third, Samigin told the Duma that according to “our information, [Putin] has given approval” to his proposal to re-establish a ministry for nationality affairs, an institution that would be directly subordinate to the president and very powerful (

The deputy also called for the creation of a coordinating council on nationality policy that would include representatives of the Presidential Administration, the Russian Security Council, the government and other organs,” something that along with the new ministry would put the administration of nationality policy alongside the force structures.


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