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Putin talks multi-culturalism with religious leaders

Prime minister Vladimir Putin met with religious leaders sympathetic to his People's Front on Tuesday, in an apparent bid to address the thorny issue of multiculturalism.

Rhetoric from the Kremlin on the subject is new and unformed, it made its debut on the list of serious issues in December 2010 after a 5,000 strong ethnic clash by the walls of the Kremlin.

Tuesday's meeting continued the now-established formula of trying to offer something to both parties.

Leading with religion

Religious leaders should take an active part in helping migrants fit in and blend in and "migrants who move to a region of Russia that is not traditional to them," must learn the language, culture and customs of the ethnic majority, Putin said, Moskovskiye Novosti reported.

The leaders of Russia's major religious were all present: Kirill, the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Sheihk Ravil Gainutdin, head of the Russian Council of Muftis, Chief Rabbi Berel Lazaar and the Moscow Sangey Lama, representing the Buddhist community.

The Russian way

From references to a "rainbow nation" to laying a wreath for dead Spartak fan and nationalist icon Yegor Sviridov Putin has been keen to keep a foot in both camps, despite warnings from political commentators.

"Besides Russia our citizens have no other motherland," the PM said, pointing out that the colors of Russia's rainbow come not from newly arrived immigrants but from indigenous peoples and nations, Kommersant reported.

But multiculturalism, at least in its Western incarnation, is still something best kept in check, warned Patriarch Kirill.

"The most common model, the model of multiculturalism has arisen across the ocean...They have gone down this route in part in western Europe and it seems that now they are seriously reconsidering this approach," he said, RIA Novosti reported.

And despite the dictates of the constitution, he said that religion is important, "If we want to build a society, devoid of values, absolutely secular... then we lose something that we all have, that unites people of every religion," the Patriarch said.


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