Kremlin ideologue links ethnic riots to opposition

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The top Kremlin ideologue on Thursday linked ethnic violence to protests by the liberal opposition, following the race-tinged violence that erupted in Russia over the past days.

Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff, told the pro-government Izvestia newspaper that Russia's fractured liberal opposition were rocking the boat and encouraging violence.

"It is the ostensibly 'liberal' public that brings illegal protests into vogue and these Nazis and lunatics keep up with the fashion," he told the newspaper.

On December 11, some 5,000 ultra-nationalists and football hooligans clashed with the police outside the Kremlin walls following the deadly shooting of a football fan by a Muslim suspect.

President Dmitry Medvedev has warned such violence threatened the stability of the entire state.

On Wednesday, police detained hundreds of youths in Moscow and other cities in a national security sweep aimed at staving off fresh ethnic riots.

"The 11th comes out of the 31st," Surkov said, referring to protests the liberal opposition organises for the 31st day of the month in reference to Article 31 in the Russian Constitution which permits peaceful demonstrations.

"Different people, same lunacy. No guys. That is no good."

Surkov, who is credited with coining the phrase "sovereign democracy" to describe Russia's post-Soviet political system, said those behind the murder of the football fan should receive a lengthy jail term.

"And those who join the ranks of ethnic criminal gangs and shoot at our boys will be eradicated," he added.

© 2010 AFP

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