The BBC has reported that, at the G20 summit, Russia's president Vladimir Putin remarked that liberalism is obsolete. Which should be no surprise to anyone. The curious part of this criticism of western 'liberalism' is that Putin's disapproval of 'multiculturalism' seems a double edged sword, and I'd like to know how Russians understand this sentiment.

In the West disapproval of migration from Muslim regions is common, as well as a general anxiety about Islamic culture. There's a fear of parallel Islamic legal systems and regions developing within western nations. However, Russia has a significant minority of Muslims, and Russia's security apparatus seems to rely upon Muslim autonomy in places like Chechnya.

The implication from a critique of multiculturalism seems that ideally Russia should have less regional autonomy and less Muslims. Which might be something of a dangerous logic given the bloody history of the Caucuses.

This impression comes from Putin's 2016 claim that Lenin created a federalist "time bomb" under the Russian state. Though this claim seems untrue, federalism was Stalin's idea in opposition of Lenin's preference for a unitary Soviet state.

How do Russians, especially Russian Muslims in regions where they are allowed to practice a different culture from that of Russia's Christians (multiculturalism), perceive Putin's disapproval of multiculturalism in the West?

EDIT: The context is Chechnya. Putin has appointed Ramzan Kadyrov to power in Chechnya. Consequently law in Chechnya has become Islamist and is neither secular nor Christian (Russian). Putin relies upon Kadyrov to maintain security in Chechnya, but in doing so he is promoting multiculturalism within Russia. Those European parties who hate multiculturalism want to prevent this.

From St. Petersberg Times, Issue #1453 (15), Tuesday, March 3, 2009:

GROZNY — The bull-necked president of Chechnya emerged from afternoon prayers at the mosque and with chilling composure explained why seven young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die.

Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the roadside, had “loose morals” and were rightfully shot by male relatives in honor killings.

Kadyrov has also forced women to wear headscarves.

Imagine if Germany's PEGIDA appointed an Islamist to rule Bavaria under Sharia law... and then claimed they are against multiculturalism. The party would implode. Chechnya has always been majority Muslim, but it hasn't always been theocratic, and its becoming theocratic is a new phenomenon. This suggests the move towards theocracy isn't inevitable and is a choice in favour of multiculturalism.

Answers can be evidenced by opinions presented in Russian surveys or media.

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    I have problems understanding the question. Why should Russian Muslims understand Putin's critic of multiculturalism any different from anyone else? Putin probably just wanted to express his view that all Russians should all be very Russian, for a particular definition of Russian. Did I misunderstand him? Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 20:49
  • @Trilarion I don't know how they understand his statements, especially when considered as part of a broader view of Russia as an indivisibly Christian and unitary state. While on the other hand promoting multiculturalism regarding republics like Chechnya, even though he seems to disapprove of the very concept of a federal system.
    – user8398
    Commented Aug 9, 2019 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


I am a student learning the Russian language and interested in the Russian history and culture, and I have read many Russian articles, blogs, and materials about Russia, including discussions on Russian forums. I will now write my impressions and observations relevant to your question, and I hope that Russian users of SE will correct all inaccuracies in my answer if there are any.

The short answer to your question is that Russians do not care much about Putin's rhetoric about Western multiculturalism.

Let me make a few points and explain them in order to provide a detailed answer.

1. Russians tend to be considerably less interested in politics than people in the West are, owing to peculiarities of the political landscape in Russia.

Churchill said long time ago that Kremlin intrigues are comparable to a bulldog fight under a rug: an observer only hears the growling, and when he sees the bones fly out from beneath it is obvious who won. This aphorism seems to be still applicable to Russia's political life. Many Russians see their government and the ruling elite as a mafia that maintains order and stability on the territory it controls. In view of many Russians, Russia's real political life mainly occurs inside that mafia, behind closed doors, and is thus hidden from ordinary people, who only see which person gets which position (minister, mayor, etc.).

Russian newspapers, news agencies, and TV channels refrain from seriously criticizing the government and supporting the so-called opposition.

The activity of the opposition seems pretty pointless as the opposition does not have any real power and, in particular, cannot do anything when cheated against in elections and courts. Elections in Russia are merely an imitation of democracy: votes are manipulated, and politicians disliked by the government are often not allowed to participate in elections as candidates. Russian courts are not independent from the government and obey when given orders "from above."

Influenced or brainwashed by mass media, many Russians believe that the boss, Putin, knows what he is doing, and that an alternative leader might lead the country to chaos, so they vote for Putin and the ruling party, seeing no alternative and remembering the chaos of the 1990s.

With the median salary in Russia being 500$ per month or so, many Russians barely make the ends meet and have neither energy nor motivation to think and learn much about politics. [In response to a comment below, I will explain here the cost of living in Russia. Prices for food, clothes and electronics in Russia are roughly the same as in Western countries such as Germany and France (if we compare products of the same quality), whilst renting an accommodation in Russia is considerably cheaper than in Western Europe, but takes a considerable portion of the median salary in any given Russian city. The so-called прожиточный минимум (cost of minimal consumption for an adult), which is an officially defined and legally used quantity that includes food, clothes, and bills, but does not include renting an accommodation, is officially about 150$ per month (with some variations across the country), but is far from being enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle of a middle-aged adult.]

2. Practically no one in Russia expects Putin's policy about ethnic groups to change, as that policy has always been very consistent.

The policy has always been to ensure stability in Russia and, in particular, extirpate all extremist, radical, and separatist movements as well as prevent conflicts between ethnic groups. In the Russian criminal law, there is a special section for "igniting conflicts between ethnic groups."

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union there have been no visible attempts by the Russian government to restrict the freedom of religious beliefs. In many Russian cities, including Moscow, you can find churches, mosques, and synagogues, all peacefully co-existing together.

Likewise, there have been no visible attempts by the government to suppress cultures or languages of ethnic groups. Languages of various ethnic groups are officially recognized, have their own alphabets, and are freely used. Examples are the Tatar, Chuckchi, and Kalmyk languages, which have their own alphabets somewhat different from the Russian alphabet. The only "suppression" that comes to mind is that the government did not let the Tatars officially adopt a Latin-based aplhabet, so they use a Cyrillic-based one instead. The Russian language is the lingua franca in Russia, so very few people living in Russia do not speak Russian, but many Russian citizens are bilingual, and the Russian government does not have any problem with it.

Putin is okay with existence of regions with a somewhat different culture as long as they do not cause trouble. Governments of such regions demonstrate loyalty to Putin and do their best not to cause trouble. A number of such regions (e.g., Chechnya and Chukotka) are financially helped by the Russian government, getting more money from the federal budget than giving back, and thus have no reason to complain about the treatment by the Russian government.

Concerning specifically Russian Muslims, here is how Putin himself expressed his attitude towards them:

Today, traditional Islam is an integral part of Russia's spiritual life. Islam's humanist values, like the values of our other traditional religions, teach people compassion, justice and care for our loved ones. We place great value on these things. ... It is important to educate Muslim youth in traditional Islamic values and prevent attempts to impose on us world outlooks that are alien to us and have nothing to do with genuine Islam. Let me say that the authorities will continue to assist in reviving Russia's system of Islamic theological schools and religious education. ... Of course, we must continue expanding the network of Muslim cultural and educational centres. Their aim is to bring Muslims together, impart to them the spiritual, cultural and moral code inherent to traditional Islam in Russia, help to resolve common problems, and take part in youth education. I note the big role that Muslims and above all their spiritual leaders play in strengthening interethnic and interfaith harmony. Their rejection and condemnation of all forms of fundamentalism and radicalism have made a major contribution to the fight against nationalism and religious extremism. (Source)

In short, Putin views Russian Muslims positively as long as they help him maintain order and stability and do not cause trouble.

There are no indications of any upcoming change, so Russians do not really care what Putin rhetorically says to the West about Western multiculturalism.

3. Many Russians do not seriously take Putin's rhetoric speeches.

Many Russians understand that his speeches do not necessarily convey what he really thinks or is up to. For example, in the very same interview in which he made his remark about multiculturalism he also said the following:

You know, first of all, we do not have oligarchs anymore. Oligarchs are those who use their proximity to the authorities to receive super profits. We have large companies, private ones, or with government participation. But I do not know of any large companies that get preferential treatment from being close to the authorities, these are practically non-existent.

Many Russians laughed reading this, as I see on the Internet. To them, nothing can be further from the truth. (See examples of reaction here.)

4. Putin's remark about multiculturalism was made in relation to migration, and his actual message seems to be merely that a massive inflow of troublesome migrants to a country can cause trouble in that country.

Let us read the exact words of Putin about multiculturalism in that interview:

Vladimir Putin: ... There is also the so-called liberal idea, which has outlived its purpose. Our Western partners have admitted that some elements of the liberal idea, such as multiculturalism, are no longer tenable. When the migration problem came to a head, many people admitted that the policy of multiculturalism is not effective and that the interests of the core population should be considered. Although those who have run into difficulties because of political problems in their home countries need our assistance as well. That is great, but what about the interests of their own population when the number of migrants heading to Western Europe is not just a handful of people but thousands or hundreds of thousands?

Lionel Barber: Did Angela Merkel make a mistake?

Vladimir Putin: Cardinal mistake. One can criticise Trump for his intention to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. It could be going too far. Yes, maybe so. I am not arguing about this point. But he had to do something about the huge inflow of migrants and narcotics. Nobody is doing anything. They say this is bad and that is bad as well. Tell me, what is good then? What should be done? Nobody has proposed anything. I do not mean that a wall must be built or tariffs raised by 5 percent annually in the economic relations with Mexico. This is not what I am saying, yet something must be done. He is at least looking for a solution. What am I driving at? Those who are concerned about this, ordinary Americans, they look at this and say, Good for him, at least he is doing something, suggesting ideas and looking for a solution. As for the liberal idea, its proponents are not doing anything. They say that all is well, that everything is as it should be. But is it? They are sitting in their cosy offices, while those who are facing the problem every day in Texas or Florida are not happy, they will soon have problems of their own. Does anyone think about them? The same is happening in Europe. I discussed this with many of my colleagues, but nobody has the answer. The say they cannot pursue a hard-line policy for various reasons. Why exactly? Just because. We have the law, they say. Well, then change the law! We have quite a few problems of our own in this sphere as well. We have open borders with the former Soviet republics, but their people at least speak Russian. Do you see what I mean? And besides, we in Russia have taken steps to streamline the situation in this sphere. We are now working in the countries from which the migrants come, teaching Russian at their schools, and we are also working with them here. We have toughened the legislation to show that migrants must respect the laws, customs and culture of the country.

As you see, Putin talks about migrants, not ethnic minorities integrated into a country's life, and it is hard to see any implications about possible future measures against ethnic minorities that have always been living in Russia and have learned not to cause trouble. Putin seems to have chosen the word "multiculturalism" rather carelessly, and his message seems to be merely that a massive inflow of troublesome migrants to a country can cause trouble in that country.

I performed a search in Google to see how Russians had reacted to Putin's words about multiculturalism, and here is a typical example of reaction. The author, a popular blogger, sees hypocrisy in Putin's words as Russia has about two million illegal immigrants and open borders with poor neighboring countries, whose citizens do not need a visa to travel to Russia.

To conclude, my impression is that Russians do not draw any serious conclusions from Putin's words about Western multiculturalism. They see those words rather as rhetoric of little significance for them personally.

UPDATE: In response to the OP's comment below, I am adding citations of articles in Russian media in order to evidence the points made by me.

Widespread political apathy: link1, link2

"Mafia state": link3, link4, link5, link6

Manipulations in elections: link7, link8

Denials to participate in elections: link9, link10

Economic hardship of ordinary Russians: link11, link12, link13

Government policy on ethnic groups: link14, link15

Russians do not seriously take Putin's rhetoric: link16, link17, link18

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    @Bregalad : Thanks, I just updated my answer in order to explain the cost of living in Russia.
    – Mitsuko
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 9:44
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    @Bregalad : I only wrote that prices for FOOD, CLOTHES, and ELECTRONICS in Russia are roughly the same as in Germany and France (if we compare items of the same quality, of course). Renting an accommodation is much cheaper in Russia than in Western Europe.
    – Mitsuko
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 12:48
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    For those curious about cost of living check out this website. Milk is $3.50, utilities ((Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment) is $108.32. So, if monthly salary is $500 about 20% is utilities. Apartment rent (1 bedroom) Outside of Center $246.35. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 14:43
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    I am from eastern Europe myself (Ukraine) which is similar culture and cost of living wise. I know it's hard to believe but it really is that bad. I approve of this answer. Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 14:49
  • 1
    @inappropriateCode : I just added an update at the end of my answer. The update contains 16 citations grouped by categories and evidencing the points made by me in my answer.
    – Mitsuko
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 17:08

The topic of multiculturalism has been seldom polled in Russia, as far as I can tell. The closest I could find was

After the December 2010 race riot in Manezh Square, the National Centre for Public Opionion Research (VTsIOM) carried out a survey to explore attitudes to xenophobia. 11% of respondents said they would take part in a similar protest action themselves. Meanwhile a Levada Centre survey in December 2009 found that 18% of Russians are in complete agreement with the idea of “Russia for the Russians” (results from various surveys in the period 1998-2009 give a range of 14-21%). Another 36% agreed with the idea, but “within reason”. Only 32% described the idea as fascist.

Racism and xenophobia emerge in the views of Russians more strongly when they are confronted by specific issues, as opposed to the issue of immigration generally. For example, they overwhelmingly disapprove of marriage between Russians and those they consider to be of a different race. The 2010 VTsIOM survey showed that the highest rates of disapproval were reserved for the hypothetical possibility of marriages with Chechens (65%, 2002: 67%); Arabs (63%, 2002: no figures); Kazakh, Kyrgyz or Uzbek (60%, 2002: 57%); Georgian, Armenian or Azeri (54%, 2002: 58%); Jews (46%, same in 2002).

These sentiments appear to be shared by the populations of Russia’s ethnically diverse autonomous republics. Madina Shakhbanova's research project “Attitudes to mixed marriages in the Dagestani ethnic consciousness” found that while 81.1% of respondents would be prepared to accept a person of another nationality as a citizen of their republic, the figure fell to 67.8% who would accept a non-national as a neighbour, 50.7% as an immediate boss and 39.9% as a spouse. [...]

In his 2007 interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Deacon Andrei Kurayev described mixed-race marriages as “genocide”: “When our women marry men from the Caucausus, their genes are enriching other nations and the Russian nation is weakened!”

I could find no polls on explicit disapproval of Western multiculturalism, but you can probably infer from the above that Russian multiculturalism might differ somewhat in practice at least.

As for more refined views on multiculturalism in Russia, this 2012 paper, apparently from a Daghestani perspective, could be interesting:

There is the opinion in the West that multiculturalism, a brief episode in human history which ends the era of industrial modernization and classical liberal civil society, is in crisis; the most far-sighted politicians have pointed to the "division of the sphere of culture" as a way out. They argue that the public sphere needs cultural uniformity based on unified formalized norms, while cultural diversity should thrive in the spheres of private and spiritual life. Religious ceremonies belong to temples, while the street is a sphere of civilian communication.

When talking about the Northern Caucasus, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly criticized multiculturalism and pointed out that it leads to disintegration cropping up in the Northern Caucasus in the form of a clan system, ethnic separatism, and religious radicalism. On many occasions the president referred to civilian integration, which he described as "all-Russia patriotism" and the task of developing an "all-Russia nation" as a means of healing the ills of disintegration.

Some think that multiculturalism dates back to the Soviet period, that is, it is older than the European. It is believed that it was an inalienable part of the Soviet state policy of setting up republics, districts, and regions and was a form of encouraging ethnic and national identity.

It should be borne in mind, however, that there are at least two elements which make Soviet and European multiculturalism different.

■ First, in the Soviet period, the peoples of the national republics permanently lived in their ethnic territories; their cooperation and communication was limited to remote economic and cultural ties.

■ Second, in the Soviet Union, public life was deprived of the religious factor, which ensured primacy of the ethnic culture no matter how divisional and isolationist it was.

This means that we cannot totally agree with President Medvedev's optimism who, while criticizing certain aspects of multiculturalism, describes it as the best possible future for Russia's poly-ethnic and poly-confessional society.

We should bear in mind that in the West the Islamic factor moved to the frontline of public and political life much earlier than in the Russian Federation; this undermined the policy of multiculturalism even in the most advanced civil societies with rich historical traditions and democratic experience. [...]

Today, most Russian philosophers think that sociopolitical unity (agreement on basic social and political values) is the key feature of any nationality and that nationality and the emergence of a civil society cannot be separated. [...]

Very soon it will become hard in Daghestan not only to insist on one's ethnic identity, but even to be merely "aware" of it. Contemporary dynamics have diluted the idea of a common ethnic territory; today, many regions are best described as an ethnic patchwork. A shared past, likewise, has lost its importance as a criterion of ethnic identity; in many cases, the past belongs to several ethnicities (many of which know next to nothing about it). [...]

Today, ethnonational identity cannot be described as a factor which slows down the advance toward a civil nation and "all-Russia" identity.

This was published in Russian academic journal by a Daghestani academic. It's hard to summarize its main point (hence the long quote), but it seems to be that Russian multiculturalism is convergent on a "all-Russia" identity, whereas the Western one (as viewed from Russia/Dagestan) lacks such a convergence feature.

Probably the same idea is better expressed by a Russian academic:

Because multiculturalism promotes the rejection of one general culture, its result is that the receiving country becomes divided into several segments that differ significantly from each other. The ideals of a common history and a unifying national awareness have been gradually disappearing. [...]

While in Europe, the concept of multiculturalism proved to be unrealistic and utopian in practice, it is still part of the current liberal reforms in Russia. What are the results in our country? During the years that followed the collapse of the USSR, Russia was unable to become a cohesive nation. In Russian society, some communities based on ethnic or religious principles have become more and more isolated and the use of the Russian language has been gradually declining. Thus, in the districts of Moscow where immigrants from the former Soviet republics live, 30 percent of the children of immigrants do not know a word of Russian when they enter school. During the 20 years after collapse of the USSR, ethnic identities have dominated Russian state identity.

Nevertheless, recent sociological research cautiously indicates the emergence of a new positive tendency. In 2011, for the first time, the importance of a civil all-Russia state identity was registered among the population. [...]

In the course of the discussion, I was asked a provocative question: was I calling for a leveling of ethnic communities? On the contrary, Russia with its thousand-year experience of intercultural interaction has preserved as many peoples, languages, and cultures as were adopted. But Russia can be united only by dual or two-tiered identity fixed in the minds of all the peoples of Russia. The first level is ethnic identity (such as Avars, Russians, Tatars), and at the same time the second level, an all-Russia state identity. A representative of a certain ethnic community is also a representative of the whole country. The most important factors uniting people of different ethno-cultural groups could be the official state language and common culture as the bases, along with local ethnic cultures.

From that it's not hard to see the association of (Western) multiculturalism in Russia roughly with the Yeltsin years, with the implication of weakness, overcome by the new Putin-era vision.

The rejection of (Western) multiculturalism is something that the European new right and the Russian Neo-Eurasianism have in common, but I think the rejection enjoys even a broader base in Russia besides strict Neo-Eurasianists.

I'm guessing the liberal opposition to Putin isn't as enamoured of the rejection of multiculturalism as Putin's supporters are, but it's been hard for me to find what the exponents of Russian liberal opposition have to say on multiculturalism. One needs to be careful not to assign too much in the way Western liberal views to Putin's opposition. As an article in the Washington Post noted:

Anti-minority extremists are often anti-state, believing that the government has not taken a hard enough stance against minorities. For instance, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny, has flirted with xenophobic and nationalist sentiment. He helped organize the 2006 “Russian March” and supported the movement “Stop Feeding the Caucasus,” a region that the Russian federal government heavily subsidizes.

Likewise, an analysis of his blog finds that

Navalny advocates a “normal” nationalism, which he contrasts with abnormal, radical, and marginal nationalism. He underlines the importance of national rebirth and constructs Russian national identity in connection to a history of victory and greatness. The national identity that Navalny constructs is ethnically Russian. Other ethnic groups, Chechens in particular, are constructed as “Others” who belong outside the boundaries of the Russian imagined community.

Interestingly enough, there are more pro-European (of sorts) views in Russia that simultaneously reject multiculturalism:

radical liberalism meets with Russian ethnic nationalism, which also has a monistic liberal nature. These activists propose to reconsider Russia's territorial integrity for the sake of implementing the model of a ‘cosy European home’ (Shevchenko and Belkovskiy 2012). They claim that Russia must focus on constructing her European identity, which stands at odds with the culture and civilization of the North Caucasus regions, and from that point of view such regions could be territorially sacrificed for the sake of implementing the European choice to the full. These authors appeal to Russian ethnic nationalism, which is opposed to Russian civic patriotism and traditionalist multiculturalism (Chebankova 2012a), and hopes to access the European space as a Europeanized, territorially reduced, but ‘civilized’ region. Konstantin Krylov, the leader of the National Democratic Party, and, with some exceptions, Stanislav Belkovskiy, are the most notable intellectuals within this wing.

Although I could find no Russian sources saying this, your criticism of how Putin contrasts Russia with the West on this matter is echoed by some Western academics, e.g. Fukuyama:

I actually think the Russian Federation is liberal in many respects. [Putin] is not imposing Orthodox Christianity as a religion that all members of the Russian Federation have to follow, because a lot of them are Muslim or follow other religious beliefs. So even in his country, liberalism is a key value. And if they don't observe that kind of tolerance, there's going to be a lot of conflict within the borders of the Russian Federation. That's something that people need to keep in mind. That liberalism is really about allowing people to live peacefully while perhaps disagreeing about some of the more fundamental issues raised by religion.

But the Russian (and Daghestani) sources I found seemed keen on emphasizing the differences and the perceived failure of the Western model, very much in line with Putin's perspective.

Asking for genuine Chechen perspectives seems a long shot given that that region records 99% votes for Putin. Occasionally, Chechen leader Kadyrov launches a symbolic challenge to Putin's position, when it plays really well at home, e.g. his march/petition for the Rohingya, but generally the two leaders have a mutual support pact, which indeed translates into Putin not interfering much in Chechnya's everyday life under Kadyrov. You call this setup multiculturalism, but it seems only a few others (in Russia) do so, in particular Krylov and Belkovskiy as mentioned above. Navalny is critical of the Kremlin spending in the region, but it's less clear to me what he thinks the alternative to the current setup should be.

And occasionally there's other overt Russian criticism of Putin's solution to Chechnya e.g.:

But instead of a “monstrous” solution — continuing the war to wipe out Chechnya's population — President Vladimir Putin chose a “very bad” one: Installing in Chechnya an ostensibly loyal leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and giving him free rein to rule the land, Piontkovsky wrote.

But even when criticized, this is seldom described as "multiculturalism" in Russia, as far as I can tell. The main criticism (within Russia) seems to be that it's disguised separatism.

Kadyrov has received at least 500 billion rubles ($6.4 billion at the current rate) for his republic in official subsidies from Moscow, but the actual figure may be much higher, according to a documentary “The Family,” released by the pro-democracy Open Russia foundation last year.

“Having unleashed and lost the war in the Caucasus, the Kremlin is paying, in exchange for ostensible submissiveness, a toll and contribution not only to Kadyrov, but also to the criminal elites of other republics,” Piontkovsky wrote. The money “is spent to buy palaces and golden guns for local leaders.”

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny wrote on his website earlier this month that Kadyrov's supposed loyalty to Putin was spurious, and the Chechen leader planned secession as soon as federal subsidies dry up.

“Kadyrov's strategic task is to break away from Russia and create his own authoritarian state under the cover of Islamic slogans,” Navalny wrote. “He is simply awaiting the moment when the budget absolutely runs out of money.”

Actually, I did find one 2012 positive reference to "multiculturalism" in Russian media, as cited in a Western source:

While 90 percent of Chechnya's 1.1 million people are Muslim, Tatarstan’s 3.7 million population is split into 43 percent Muslim and 40 percent Russian Orthodox, whose peaceful co-existence has been portrayed as a successful project of multiculturalism. [citing: Landysh Zaripova, “Multiculturalism works,” The Kazan Times, March 18, 2012, http://kazantimes.com/lifestyle/multiculturalism-works/ ]

However the link is dead now, in fact the whole site is.

The Western source which further contrast Chechnya with Tatarstan doesn't refer to Chechnya as multicultural in the greater context of Russia, but rather as "a state within a state". And it's not the only Western source to use that latter phrase to refer to Chechnya. So I suppose even some Western sources disagree that "multiculturalism" is the best description for the Russia-Chechnya setup.

  • Great answer with good sources. Only thing I would say is some of the quotations could be shortened or summarised. But as you mention in part, this will be difficult at times given the complexity of the subject.
    – user8398
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 17:31

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