Fight nationalism, says Putin

2005-12-20 22:38

Moscow - Russia's Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the KGB, should be used to fight extremist nationalism and racism in society, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"The security services, especially the FSB, should become an important link in an effective opposition to extremism," Putin, a former KGB colonel and head of the FSB, said in a speech marking the annual security services day.

"Russia has always had strong national unity and cohesion among the peoples living on its lands," he said.

"One must understand that militant nationalism, xenophobia, and calls for violence, and inter-ethnic conflict threaten the stability of our multi-ethnic state," Putin said. He also called for a crackdown on the "the instigators and organisers" of racist attacks.

Russia has seen numerous nationalist movements since the Soviet collapse in 1991, including Chechnya's more-than-decade-old independence fight, which has resulted in two devastating wars.

More recently, the country has experienced a surge in ultra-nationalist ethnic-Russian sentiment, mixing anti-US, anti-capitalist and racist tendencies. Russian nationalism has been blamed for a string of vicious beatings of foreign students and people from the Caucasus region.