Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed establishing a new state agency on national development and interethnic accord.
Interethnic issues have been prominent in the headlines in the last year, after a series of murders following clashes between ethnic Russians and members of ethnic minorities, particularly following football matches.
A mass riot of around 5,000 football fans took place in central Moscow on December 11, 2010 following the murder of Yegor Sviridov, a Russian Spartak football club fan by Aslan Cherkesov, a native of the North Caucasus.
In an apparent attempt to soothe both groups, Putin, who will run for president in the March 4 elections, said in an article for the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily: “I think a special structure responsible for issues of national development, interethnic accord and interaction should be established in the system of the federal power bodies.”
Putin’s initiative echoes proposals by regional parliamentarians, who have repeatedly called for reestablishing a federal body strengthening interethnic relations.
Earlier the Nationalities Ministry dealt with such issues, while now they are addressed by the Regional Development Ministry, which does not pay enough attention to them, Putin said.
The premier said the agency should interact with the president, the government staff, the public and have certain powers.
Putin served two terms as Russia’s president between 2000 and 2008, but was barred from standing for a third consecutive term by the constitution. He became prime minister after his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, became president.