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Russia inherited myriad of ethnic ‘sore points’ after USSR collapsed, says Putin

Focusing on the role of Vladimir Lenin in Russia’s history, Putin stressed that he was acting not as a state leader, but as a "revolutionary"

MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Russia has over 2,000 sore points regarding ethnic and territorial issues that sprung up back during the Soviet era, President Vladimir Putin told his annual news conference on Thursday.

"By his [Vladimir Lenin’s] decisions, ethnic groups were tied to concrete territories, and then they got the right to secede from the Soviet Union. But even the territories had been carved up in such a way that they did not always correspond and still don’t coincide now with the traditional places of domicile of any given ethnicity," Putin said.

"Sore points sprung up right away, and they are still in place in relations between the former Soviet republics. Moreover, there are 2,000 such points inside the Russian Federation," the Russian leader said, adding that "if you let things go for even a second, there will be hell to pay.

Focusing on the role of Vladimir Lenin in Russia’s history, Putin stressed that he was acting "not as a state leader, but as a revolutionary." "When I spoke about our state's 1,000-year-long history, it was a strictly centralized, unitary state. What did Vladimir Ilyich Lenin suggest? He didn’t propose just a federation, but a confederation," Putin explained.

Soviet leader Josef Stalin was against a confederation, he even wrote an article on autonomy, but eventually he approved Lenin’s formula, Putin went on to say.

"So what have we got as a result? We have just discussed with my Ukrainian colleague our relations, but when the Soviet Union was being set up, the original, ancestral Russian territories, which had never had anything to do with Ukraine — the entire Black Sea region, Russia’s western lands — went to Ukraine with a strange wording "to increase the percentage ratio of the proletariat in Ukraine," the president said. Back then, Ukraine was a rural region, while the Soviet authorities saw peasants as representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, dispossessing them massively, he explained.

"This was a somewhat bizarre decision, but this did happen. All this is the legacy of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s state building and we have to grapple with this now," Putin added. The Bolsheviks linked the future of the country with their own party. "As soon as the party began falling apart, the country started to disintegrate as well," he stressed.