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KISLOVODSK, January 23 (Itar-Tass) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounced attempts to foment ethnic strife in the North Caucasus as betrayal.
“We will always remember those who defended peace in the North Caucasus and fought for the integrity of the country in the 1990s. Terrorists received a devastating blow back then. Neither handouts, nor instructions, nor ideological support from abroad helped them. Our citizens did not allow themselves to be stupefied. All this proved futile before the heroism, courage and dignity of the people of Russia. He who does not want to be a slave cannot be forced to his knees,” Putin said at the Forum of the Peoples of Southern Russia on Monday, January 23.
He recalled the role played by Dagestani Botlikh in repelling the international terrorist attack. “People rose up in defence of Russia’s interests and their own homes without external nudging or instructions and even without weapons,” he said.
Those who gave their lives in the struggle against terrorism included civilians, military personnel, militiamen, Cossacks, clergymen, public figures, and journalists, he added.
“All of them are representatives of different ethnic groups and faiths. And let me tell you frankly that attempts to foment ethnic and religious strife is nothing but a betrayal of their memory by those who dare sponge on the ethnic theme and provoke separatist and nationalist sentiments,” Putin said.
“People in the southern regions of our country have always been populated by courageous, bold and strong-willed peoples, each having its own language and culture, but all sharing one country – Russia, and one centuries-old and very controversial but great and common history,” the prime minister said.
The lessons of this history indicate “how deadly ethnic and civil conflicts and how deep the wounds from injustice and civil war can be”, he said.
“The South of Russia has drained the cup of fratricidal civil war, deportations and terrorism in full measure,” Putin said.
In his opinion, “while preserving the memory of the past it is important to restore the truth and integrity of history, and therefore the integrity of national self-consciousness as the basis for the life of people and the development of the state.”