Vladimir Putin is often misquoted as saying that “Russia is for Russians” – which, to the naked eye, seems nationalistic. But this rhetoric has no racist inclination; it is a misunderstanding arising from the Russian language. The word “Russians” has two meanings – it is both those who are Russian ethnically, and those who live in Russia historically …. As a rule of thumb, every Russian considers themselves “indigenous” – its “colonisation” history is not as fresh as it is in the countries of European colonisation.
Russia is home to over 120 numerically small (many under 50,000 each) local ethnicities. Many have retained their languages and traditions, as well as being citizens of the Russian Federation and speaking Russian fluently. What is important to understand when Putin says “Russia is for Russians” is that it means he puts the rights of all of Russia’s many ethnicities before those of immigrants – those immigrants who are culturally and historically not a part of the Russian Federation.
Can you imagine any Western leader (or Asian, except perhaps Duterte of the Philippines) talking like this? It sounds like commonsense mostly. Putin has a genuine grasp of all these areas of political life, and simply says what he thinks. No teleprompting.