Fifth of Russians say interethnic relations worse over past year

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About one fifth of Russians (19%) believe interethnic relations in the country have deteriorated over the past year, the all-Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said Monday.
MOSCOW, September 11 (RIA Novosti) - About one fifth of Russians (19%) believe interethnic relations in the country have deteriorated over the past year, the all-Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said Monday.

Russia faced an increasing number of race-related incidents in 2006, the latest of which occurred in the northern Russian town of Kondopoga in the Republic of Karelia.

In that incident, a confrontation between locals and Caucasus natives that left at least two city residents dead culminated in riots that shook the town, as residents demanded Chechens be deported.

According to the VTsIOM's survey, 55% of respondents believe interethnic relations in the country are the same as a year ago, a total of 16% said relations improved, and each 10th respondent found it difficult to answer.

Twenty-two percent of those who said interethnic relations grew worse linked the deterioration to "an uncontrolled growth in the number of foreign-language immigrants who pose problems" for local residents who have lived in the area for several generations.

Twenty percent linked the deterioration to "the position of the authorities, who did nothing to resolve the problem."

Thirteen percent said the root of the problem was that Russian nationalists have become more active, while 42% found it difficult to answer.

The survey was conducted September 2-3 and involved 1,600 respondents in 153 cities and towns in 46 Russian regions. The margin of error did not exceed 3.4%.

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