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YAROSLAVL, September 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Separatism and terrorism remain serious challenges to Russia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at the Yaroslavl International Policy Forum.
"Everyone knows about the problems facing Russian society," he said. "We are engaged in years-long struggle against separatism and terrorism, and although the enemy has weakened, it is still there, undefeated," declared the head of state.
Medvedev said that Russia is "a unique example of social, political, and cultural diversity."
"We forget about that in our daily lives, but we must remember it," he said. "We are a multi-religious country, and that feature is not borrowed from outside, it is a traditionally established one," the president said.
"Unfortunately, there has been growing the geography of ethnic tensions," Medvedev said. "Internal migration flows are moving mostly from south to north, in areas traditionally inhabited by a large number of Russian citizens there emerge many new-comers from the Caucasus, while the Russian population in the Caucasus is decreasing, and this leads to the self-isolation of ethno-cultural regions and the emergence of inter-ethnic tensions in others," the head of state said.
"The situation is exacerbated by the fact that in Russia, as in most other countries that lived through large-scale economic and political reforms last century, there has occurred excessive stratification of society in terms of living standards," said Medvedev. He said that ten percent of the wealthiest Russians were getting incomes that were 15 times greater than those of the poorest 10 percent.
"They account for almost one-third of the total incomes of citizens, and the poorest class, for just two percent," he said. "Poverty is a powerful catalyst for ethnic differences, it is among the disadvantaged social groups that the spread of xenophobia and intolerance is the fastest," said the president.