Outline (By Brett M. Christensen)
Widely circulated message claims that, in a February 4, 2013 speech to the Duma, Russian President Vladimir Putin bluntly advised Russian minorities that they should speak Russian and adapt to Russian culture if they wish to live in the country and that, if they prefer Sharia Law, then they should go somewhere else to live.
Putin Brief AnalysisThere is no record of Putin making such a speech. Nor are there any credible news reports about the Russian President's supposed words. The message is strongly reminiscent of a factually flawed email forward that claimed that the Australian Prime Minister stated that immigrants should adapt to Australian culture, language and beliefs or leave the country and that Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law should get out of Australia.
On February 4th, 2013, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, addressed the Duma,
(Russian Parliament), and gave a speech about the tensions with minorities in Russia:
"In Russia live Russians. Any minority, from anywhere, if it wants to live in Russia, to work and eat in Russia, should speak Russian, and should respect the Russian laws. If they prefer Shari ‘a Law, then we advise them to go to those places where that's the state law. Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell 'discrimination'.
We better learn from the suicides of America, England, Holland and France, if we are to survive as a nation. The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of most minorities. When this honourable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should have in mind the national interest first, observing that the minorities are not Russians.
The politicians in the Duma gave Putin a standing ovation for five minutes!
This message, which is making its way around Cyberspace via political blogs and forums, social media posts and email, lists the rather strident words supposedly uttered by Russian President Vladimir Putin during a February 4, 2013 speech to the "Duma" ( State Duma - the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia). According to the message, Putin bluntly informed ethnic minorities that if they wanted to live in Russia, they should speak Russian, respect Russian laws and follow Russian customs and traditions. Putin is also listed as stating that those who prefer Sharia Law should go to a place where such law is in place. Putin also supposedly said that most minorities had primitive ways and a lack of culture and that Russia has no need of such minorities.
But, in fact there is no credible evidence that Putin actually made such a speech. A speech with those words is not listed in the Speeches and Transcripts section of the President of Russia Website for February 4th, 2013 or any other date in February. And searches of the website – and the Kremlin archive pages – reveal no transcripts of such a speech.
Moreover, I could find no legitimate news reports about a Putin speech like the one described. It seems quite unlikely that at least a few political journalists would not have written about such a speech. Or that the minorities at the receiving end of the alleged speech would not have publicly reacted to it.
In fact, the message appears to be a mutated variant of earlier messages that claimed that an Australian Prime Minister made a similar speech telling immigrants that they should adapt to Australian ways or leave the country. The first Australian version of the hoax claims then Prime Minister John Howard uttered the words. Later versions name subsequent Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
And a European version of the message claimed that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon made the speech. While the original John Howard version, although misleading and inaccurate, did contain elements of truth, subsequent versions are outright hoaxes.
While it seems quite unlikely that an accomplished leader like Putin would have worded a speech about minority groups in such an inflammatory and derogatory way, the President has actually made comments that echo somewhat, albeit in a much more reasonable tone, the sentiments expressed in the above speech. At a January 2012 meeting of the Board of the Federal Migration Service, Putin noted in a speech:
We must create the conditions for immigrants to normally integrate into our society, learn Russian and, of course, respect our culture and traditions and abide by Russian law. In this regard, I believe that the decision to make learning the Russian language compulsory and administer exams is well grounded. To do so, we will need to carry out major organisational work and introduce corresponding legislative amendments.