Putin Makes Local Governors Responsible for Ethnic Relations

Migrant Workers file photo

UFA, October 22 (RIA Novosti) ­ President Vladimir Putin signed a law Tuesday giving local authorities more responsibility for handling relations between ethnic communities in a sign the government is growing nervous at evidence of a surge in nationalist-tinged discontent.

Speaking at the Interethnic Relations Council in the Urals town of Ufa, Putin lashed out at local governments for what he said was their lackluster record in implementing the government’s long-term strategy to minimize tensions among the numerous ethnic groups living in Russia.

Authorities are still reeling from unrest in Moscow last week that saw a protest over police failure to apprehend a murder suspect descend into violence. Days after the killing, mobs of young men clashed with police and attacked a market warehouse where many migrants are employed amid rumors the murder was committed by a non-Russian.

The suspected killer was detained days after the unrest in the southern Moscow district of Biryulyovo and identified as a citizen of Azerbaijan.

Under the terms of the law signed Tuesday by Putin, municipal leaders will face dismissal for failing to stifle ethnic tensions.

The legislation empowers regional authorities to take measures to integrate migrants.

The law was adopted to ensure the implementation of Russia’s National Ethnic Policy Strategy through to 2025, the Kremlin said Tuesday. Putin complained that little progress has been made on the strategy so far and that only nine out of Russia’s 83 federal territories have forged specific plans.

“All we’re talking about are plans, about the initial required measures. If we look at the specific work done, the picture is far more depressing,” Putin told the Interethnic Relations Council.

Putin appeared to recognize that events in Biryulyovo was the outcome of failure by local authorities to address local concerns, about rampant migration among other things.

“Local authorities often prefer armchair leadership, which is of little or no use,” he said.

In the wake of Biryulyovo, vocal opposition candidate Alexei Navalny posted a petition on his website proposing a visa regime be introduced for migrant laborers coming to Russia from former Soviet nations in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

Putin dismissed such suggestions, saying they would do little to solve migration issues. He instead urged better bureaucratic management over migration.

Mickey Mouse coming to Moscow in 2014

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – October 23, 2013)

The list of foreign retailers setting out their stall in Russia will get a colourful addition next year, with US entertainment

giant Walt Disney planning to open three themed stores in Moscow and St Petersburg in 2014. The merchandising arm of the film and

cartoon maker is set to launch toy and garment retail networks, business daily Kommersant reported on October 23.

Walt Disney Company is looking at small-sized shop space on the order of 300-500 square meters located in the burgeoning malls in

Russia’s twin capitals, according to the report. Specifically it has been checking out space in the Mega brand hypermarkets in

Moscow, which are already home to IKEA as well as several French and German retailers, and the giant Galeria shopping center in St

Petersburg.

The company will spend an estimated $2.7m just on the retail space, DNA Realty told the newspaper. Walt Disney has also opened a

tender for a local partner to operate two retail chain formats: Disney Play and Disney Style, which sell toys and garments

respectively, the paper reports. Overall, the company hopes to open 100 stores with 100-150 square meters of retail space for each

branch, to cooperate with suppliers, and to pay royalties for the use of the brand name, the paper reports.

Last year Russia overtook Germany to become the largest toy market in Europe, worth an estimated RUB662bn ($21.3bn) at the end of

2012 and continues to grow in double digits. Despite all the negative press on Russia’s “demographic problem.” birth rates have

been recovering on the back of steadily rising incomes.