Vladimir Putin has promised to get to grips with Russian immigration if he is re-elected president.
24 January 2012
Putin promises tough new Russian immigration rules
Former Russian president Vladimir Putin has warned that ethnic tensions could 'tear Russia apart' and if he is re-elected president he will bring Russian immigration under control.
Mr Putin, the current prime minister, is seeking re-election for a third term in this year's election. Writing in a Russian newspaper, he said he would keep a tight rein on migration rules to prevent Russia from following the Soviet Union in to dissolution by ensuring migrants pass Russian language and history exams before being granted a Russian visa.
"With the collapse of the [Soviet Union], we were on the edge - and in some regions over the edge of civil war" wrote Mr Putin, referring to the separatist struggles in Chechnya.
"With great effort, with great sacrifice we were able to douse these fires. But that doesn't mean that the problem is gone."
Mr Putin is the favourite to win re-election in March when he and current president Dmitry Medvedev intend to swap positions once more.
Mr Putin intends to re-establish a Soviet-styled country where the rights of ethnic minorities, particularly Russia's growing Muslim population, are respected but Russian language and culture would be the prevailing majority.
"The Russian people, the Russian culture is the glue holding together the unique fabric of this civilisation" said Mr Putin.
Mr Putin blamed Russian nationalists for ethnic tensions and claimed the nationalists, who have been his most outspoken critics, as the main threat to a united and more centralised Russia.
"If a multi-ethnic society is infected by nationalism, it loses its strength and durability. We need to understand what far-reaching effects can be caused by attempts to inflame national enmity and hatred".
Mr Putin said that helping developing economies in ex-Soviet states, which currently provide millions of migrants to Russia's workforce, would help to curb Russian immigration.
The Russian Presidential Elections take place in March 2012; Vladimir Putin faces opposition from Communist Party of the Russian Federation leader Gennady Zyuganov and social democratic party A Just Russia candidate Sergey Mironov.
The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Russian visa and immigration services.