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Putin harnesses Russian nationalism to boost presidential bid

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says that multiethnic Russia cannot survive as a US-style 'melting pot' but must find its own way. 

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of the Russian coal sector in the city of Kemerovo, Monday. Putin has penned a lengthy article on Russian nationalism, to boost presidential bid.

Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Reuters

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Off and running in the presidential election that is now just over a month away, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has penned a lengthy article on nationalism, potentially Russia's most explosive issue. 

In the article, Mr. Putin warns that nationalist agitators, both those representing the ethnic Russian majority and those speaking for the country's multitude of small minorities, are growing voices of destruction that threaten to drive Russia down the path of a Soviet-style breakup. 

It's Mr. Putin's second program statement in less than a month, reportedly written by three speechwriters and republished on his official campaign website. Experts say it raises some very real dangers posed by Russia's ethnic and religious complexity, but offers only more state control and curbs on democracy by way of solution.

Among other things, Putin calls for tougher controls on internal migration and illegal immigration from outside Russia, a clampdown on "separatist" political parties, and the creation of a new state agency to regulate interethnic relations. He suggests language testing for immigrants, to make sure they speak Russian, and also calls for creation of a list of 100 books that embody the "self-identity" of Russia, which would be mandatory reading for every Russian student. 

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