Russia was close to Yugoslav-style disintegration - Putin

Russia was "pretty close to following the Yugoslav scenario" in the late 1990s, President Vladimir Putin has told a meeting of the All-Russia Popular Front.

Source: TASS
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However, the country "preserved its unity and integrity after all," Putin said, commenting on the recently broadcast TV documentary "The President," TASS reported.

"We preserved the unity and territorial integrity of the country. We must be grateful to the ordinary guys, our military, who in those very complicated conditions were taking the necessary military measures in the North Caucasus. That’s who really deserves greater publicity. They protected the country with their own bodies. It was not just a local conflict. That local conflict could have caused the situation in Russia to follow the Yugoslav scenario," Putin said.

"We were very close to that. And in those conditions, when people were fighting a war against international terrorism and carrying that heavy burden, it was very hard to achieve positive results, it was very difficult, but they did it," the Russian leader said.

"The (economic) 'shock therapy' that the people had to go through caused a grave effect on our country, on ordinary people. We were losing nearly a million people a year. The demographic situation was catastrophic," Putin recalled.

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