Moscow Mayor For Reviewing Policies Towards Countries That Discriminate Against Russian Citizens

Discrimination against Russia's citizens may provide ground for revising Russia's policy towards states that practice this, said Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov on Friday. He was speaking at a congress of compatriots living abroad. He described the attitude to the Russian-speaking population in Latvia and Estonia as "naked apartheid". He also emphasized that Ukraine, too, was noted for its suppressive attitudes to people with different language and culture. Luzhkov stressed that none of the CIS summits had ever taken up the problem of the Russian-speaking population in former Soviet republics outside Russia. In the mayor's view, at a time when threats of terrorist incursions on the CIS borders add to tensions Russia must intensify its contacts with fellow-countrymen. Close ties with them, he said, would keep terrorism from spreading. Russian compatriots abroad, Luzhkov emphasized, are a barrier against "expansion of medievalism and political extremism". Speaking of 10 million Russian speakers in countries outside the CIS, Luzhkov described them as a powerful factor for Russian culture and civilization. He stressed that Russia must do all it can to protect the rights and interests of Russian speakers abroad. Luzhkov pointed to the need to adopt a state program of supporting the Russian language. We should work, he said, to ensure that the Russian language in former Soviet republics should be adopted as a second national language.

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