The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 12:21 PM
MOSCOW — Russians may face new restrictions when trying to move from the provinces to Moscow, St. Petersburg or other large cities, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signaled Tuesday.
Putin portrayed the move as a way to cut down on ethnic violence in the streets, but Kremlin critics say those tensions are being fanned deliberately as a pretext to introduce repressive legislation ahead ofRussia’s 2012 presidential election.
Ethnic tensions have been simmering since the death of a Slavic soccer fan during a fight with southern people from the Caucasus earlier this month. Racist hooligans reacted by conducting violent protests chanting “Russia for Russians!” and other slogans near the Kremlin, and police have arrested thousands of people since then to keep a lid on further unrest.
Putin appealed to soccer fans in Moscow on Tuesday to distance themselves from any ultranationalists and announced the possible measures, ostensibly to combat ethnic violence.