WASHINGTON, June 14. /TASS/. Russia has seen its third consecutive year of a natural population increase, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a fragment of his interview to US filmmaker Oliver Stone, released on Tuesday night.
During the interview, the Russian leader was asked to comment on earlier estimates, according to which the ethnic Russian population in the country was diminishing.
"Fortunately, we have managed to reverse this trend. And it’s the third consecutive year that we are witnessing a natural increase in the population, including in the regions which are traditionally populated by ethnic Russians," Putin said.
The Russian leader also told Stone about his view of inter-ethnic relations in Russia.
"As to the inter-ethnic relations, this has always been a delicate issue - whenever, wherever. But Russia has certain advantages in this regard. For example, take Europe and the United States and you’ll see that people with other religions are mostly immigrants," Putin said. "Russia is different. Those people with other religions are Russians. And it’s their homeland and they have none other."
"From the very beginning, Russia was emerging as a muti-religious and multi-ethnic country. And over a thousand years we’ve nurtured a certain culture of interaction. And those places where mixed populations live - Christians and Muslims - there are many situations where people side-by-side celebrate both Muslim feast days and Christian holidays," Putin went on.
"And I think that based on these huge positive experiences, we will be able to surmount quite easily all those things - sensitive, delicate issues of inter-ethnic and inter-religious interactions," he added.
The four-part documentary, The Putin Interviews, will be aired in the United States on four consecutive nights between June 12 and 15. In Russia, it will be aired by Channel One, which has already purchased the broadcasting rights.
In the interviews, conducted between July 2015 and February 2017, Putin outlined his stance on current Russian-US relations, NATO’s policy in Europe and the deployment of the US missile defense system, and touched upon the allegations that Moscow meddled in the US election campaign.
Putin also spoke about the Syrian and Ukrainian crises and about his relations with George Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and his stance on Edward Snowden, a former employee of the US National Security Agency (NSA), who leaked details of extensive Internet and phone surveillance by US intelligence to the media and subsequently requested asylum in Russia. Putin also answered questions about domestic policy, his path to the presidency and presidential terms, without sidestepping thorny issues.