Putin on Immigration - "Russia is for Russians"

7.8K 401 Share
Inessa S
Published on Aug 31, 2016

Vladimir Putin is often misquoted as saying that "Russia is for Russians" - which seems rather divisive. But this rhetoric has no racist inclination; it is a misunderstanding arising from the Russian language. The word "Russians" has two meanings - it is both those who are Russian ethnically and those who live in Russia historically (in the West, these groups would be called "indigenous peoples" but you would have a hard time telling an ethnically-Russian/Slavic person that they are not indigenous). As a rule of thumb, every Russian considers themselves "indigenous" - its "colonization" history is not as fresh as it is in the countries of the European colonization context. Russia is home to over 120 numerically small (many under 50,000 each) local ethnicities. Many have retained their languages and traditions, as well as being citizens of the Russian Federation and speaking Russian fluently. What is important to understand when Putin says "Russia is for Russians" is that it means he puts the rights of all of Russia's many ethnicities before those of immigrants - those who are culturally and historically not a part of the Russian Federation.