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Calling Russians non-indigenous in Ukraine ‘funny, stupid’ — Putin

The Russian President noted that "it was an obvious fact that the people who joined the Russian state with these territories were calling themselves Russians"

MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. Calling Russians a non-indigenous people of Ukraine is not only incorrect but funny and stupid, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview aired Wednesday.

"It is an obvious fact that the people who joined the Russian state with these territories were calling themselves Russians. Therefore, to speak about Russians as a non-indigenous people is not simply incorrect, but funny and stupid," Putin said. "This does not correspond to history at all."

Speaking about his own attitude to the Ukrainian bill "on indigenous peoples," Putin recalled the history of Ukraine. He noted that people who lived in modern Ukraine in the 17th century "considered themselves and called themselves Russians and Orthodox Christians."

Putin regretted that he could not talk about it in detail within the TV interview format.

"By the way, you’ve suggested a good idea: to speak about it in more substance and detail. Maybe, I should prepare a dedicated article, as I did in regards to the beginning of the World War I. I will think about it," he added.

Bilateral relations between Russia and Ukraine

Problems in the bilateral relations between Russia and Ukraine should be the main topic on the agenda in case the two leaders hold a meeting rather than international security, Putin said.

"It is not even about that monstrous bill (on indigenous peoples of Ukraine - TASS), the case is that when we asked at the administration level what we can talk about [at a possible bilateral meeting], we were told that <…> it was generally proposed to talk about international security. Of course, international security is an important aspect of the situation in the world, particularly for Russia and Ukraine. However, I think that there are so many problems in our bilateral ties that we should talk about that," Putin said.

The Russian leader also couldn’t explain what Kiev meant by topics of international security. "I don’t really know. Maybe they want to discuss Donbass with us. However, these are issues of global nature. We believe that each member of the international conversation has the right to discuss such issues, including Ukraine, but problem points in the bilateral ties should be addressed first," he concluded.

About the bill

On May 18, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced the introduction of the bill on indigenous peoples of Ukraine protection of their rights/. According to the bill, the indigenous people of Ukraine is the autochthonous ethnic community, formed on the Ukrainian territory, which carries the language and culture, has traditional, social, cultural or representative bodies, considers itself an indigenous people of Ukraine, constitutes an ethnic minority in the Ukrainian population and does not have a state entity outside of Ukraine.

This definition means that Russian cannot be considered indigenous people in Ukraine. The bill also defines indigenous peoples of Crimea, which include Crimean Tatars, Karaims, and Krymchaks.

Ukrainian national football team’s uniform

Ukraine’s position which disregards declaration of will of Crimeans is well known, therefore, there is nothing new in the fact that the Ukrainian national football team’s uniform features the outline of the country with Crimea included in it, Putin said.

"No," he said when asked if he was piqued by the uniform chosen by the Ukrainian national team for Euro 2020.

"There is nothing new here because we are well aware of the position of the Ukrainian authorities about Crimea. They neglect the expression of will by Crimeans which does not really fit in with democracy," Putin noted. He recalled that "democracy means power of the people" and Crimea’s people expressed their will at the 2014 referendum. "The Ukrainian authorities do not recognize that, it is their position and we are well aware of it," he underlined once again.

The uniform for the Ukrainian national team to compete in the upcoming European Football Championship will feature slogans of Ukrainian nationalists, ‘Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!’. The kit also demonstrates an outline of Ukraine which includes the uncontrolled territories in Donbass and Russia’s Crimea.

Euro 2020 will be held from June 11 through July 11. Russia’s St. Petersburg will host seven matches, including a quarterfinal game on July 2.