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Putin - Liberals must join the fight against radicalism

Rioters With Flares Near Kremlin WallsVladimir Putin called on the "liberal intelligentsia" to stop hiding behind political postures and start actively creating a better Russia in response to the riots in Moscow this week.

The Prime Minister wasted little time in tackling the aftermath of the disturbances when he delivered his annual Q & A session to the Russian people.

The second question he fielded was about the riots and growing public fears over extremism and nationalist tensions across Russia.

And he urged everybody ­ particularly the liberal opposition ­ to do their bit to quell the tide of tension.

Harsh resistance

"We need to stop extremism coming from all sides," he said. "We can't just paint different people with the same paint. All extremism should be harshly resisted.

"The liberals need to understand there has to be order. The government exists to support the wishes of the majority.

"Our liberal intelligentsia will have to shave off their little beards, put on helmets and go to the square and fight the radicals. Everyone has their role. The government must fulfill its functions, within the limits of the law."

The tough talk echoed his comments in a newspaper interview this summer than unauthorised demonstrators should be met "with a club to the head".

And he defended the police against public criticism, saying they "perform the most important function in our society".

Inclusive Russia

Alongside the fighting talk there was a message of peace, with Putin outlining his vision of a multi-ethnic nation comfortable with its diversity.

"People from all regions need to get rid of fears; they should feel equally comfortable wherever they live. The regional authorities will have to play a big role in this.

"Everyone has to understand that we are all children of the same country, so that a man from Caucasus should not be scared to go out to Moscow streets, and Slavic people shouldn't be afraid to live in the Caucasus. We have a common motherland. Russia has been a multi-confessional and multi-ethnic state.

"There has always been a culture of cooperation and we have to remember these roots."


Putin's comments came at the start of his annual televised conversation with the nation, which began at midday on Thursday.

The show is expected to last up to four hours, and typically covers a wide range of issues raised by people all over Russia, usually in the formed of pre-submitted questions to the premier.

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