Russia sacks official in 'white race' scandal

21st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's migration service has sacked its spokesman after he sparked an outcry by saying that the survival of the "white race" was at stake in immigration policies, media reported on Thursday.

"At stake is in principle the future of the white race," Konstantin Poltoranin, the head of public relations at the Federal Migration Service (FMS) told the BBC in an interview posted on the website of its Russian service.

"In Russia we feel this question as Russians are the titular people and we see that problems arise every day," he said, shown speaking against a backdrop of the world "welcome" written in a dozen languages.

"We need to make sure that the mixing of blood takes place in the right way," Poltoranin added.

The comments -- by the top spokesman for the main agency in Russia for dealing with immigration issues -- came amid mounting concern over racist-motivated attacks on immigrants in Russia.

Big Russian cities have in the last years seen an upsurge in migration of workers from other ex-Soviet states, especially from mainly Muslim Central Asia, who mainly take low-paid jobs at building sites or with municipal services.

"Such declarations are inadmissible from any Russian official, but in particular an official from the Federal Migration Service," the agency's head Konstantin Romodanovsky told the Interfax news agency, confirming the sacking.

A Kremlin source told the RIA Novosti news agency meanwhile that the comments had aroused attention in the presidential administration and his sacking was a "logical and necessary" action.

The comments -- whose publication coincided with Adolf Hitler's birthday -- sparked a storm of condemnation on the increasingly vibrant Russian liberal blogosphere.

But there were also expressions of admiration from far-right extremists who congratulated him for "telling the truth".

Poltoranin told the Kommersant daily meanwhile that he did not intend to renounce his comments but insisted that they had been taken out of context.

"I am not a racist, I am not a fascist and I have never had any connection with that," he added.

Ethnic Russians form the vast majority of the country's population of 142.9 million but Russia also has a large Muslim minority of over 20 million concentrated mainly in the Caucasus and the Volga region.

Russia also faces a long-term problem of a declining birthrate which has seen the population shrink from over 148 million at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union.

© 2011 AFP

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