ST. PETERSBURG, April 28. /TASS/. At the end of the 1990s Russia was pretty close to following the Yugoslav scenario but the unity and integrity of the country was preserved after all, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a media forum of the All-Russia Popular Front, as he commented on the documentary The President, the Rossiya-1 television channel aired last Sunday.
"We preserved the unity and territorial integrity of the country. We must be grateful to the ordinary guys, our military, who in those very complicated conditions were taking the necessary military measures in the North Caucasus. That’s who really deserves greater publicity. They protected the country with their own bodies," Putin said. "It was not just a local conflict. That local conflict could have caused the situation in Russia to follow the Yugoslav scenario."
"We were very close to that," Putin believes. "And in those conditions, when people were fighting a war against international terrorism and carrying that heavy burden, it was very hard to achieve positive results, it was very difficult, but they did it."
A very similar situation, he added, developed in the economy in those days.
"The shock therapy that the people had to go through caused a grave effect on our country, on ordinary people. We were losing nearly a million people a year. The demographic situation was catastrophic," Putin recalled.