MOSCOW (Reuters) - On a holiday created to unite his country, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a veiled warning that foreigners were seeking to split up the vast country and plunder its resource wealth.
“Some people are constantly insisting on the necessity to divide up our country and are trying to spread this theory,” Putin told military cadets during a speech in Moscow on Sunday, Russian news agencies reported.
“There are those who would like to build a unipolar world, who would themselves like to rule all of humanity,” Putin said, a phrase he has used over the past seven years of his administration to mean the United States.
Putin, who has a black belt in Judo, the Japanese martial art that stresses calm, emotionless and powerful shifts of an opponent’s weight and balance against himself, also said Russia was well respected by admirers as a stabilising world factor.
“Some minor countries, under pressure from larger ones, are having a hard time figuring out how to defend their own interests. And Russia has played and will continue to play a positive, stabilising role in the world,” he said.
Sunday was National Unity Day, an Autumn holiday created by Putin’s administration three years ago to replace October Revolution Day, formerly the most patriotic celebration in the Soviet Union, when tanks, missiles and troops filled Red Square.
Unity Day, according to Putin’s own explanation of the holiday, is meant to show the power of the Russian people as a unified whole, rising up to meet the challenges of economic development and national defence.
A Levada Centre poll of adult Russians showed only a quarter of adults could correctly identify why they have Monday off from work.
A further 48 per cent had no idea whatsoever, while the remaining poll participants confused the holiday with the National Day of Reconciliation or Halloween.
To end this national confusion, this year’s National Unity Day celebrations were heavily advertised on government television channels, and thousands of people across the country staged rallies, meetings and marches to show their patriotism.
“Some think we have too much resource wealth and should divide it,” Putin told the cadets.
“They themselves have no wish to share their own riches, and we should take that into account.”