Federal strategy on ethnic conflict resolution emerges

The government of Russia has developed a special,
82-point plan to deal with inter-ethnic conflicts. Among the proposals put
forth by ministers are: the funding of nonprofit organizations involved in the
integration of immigrants; the organization of several cultural festivals and
seminars; and even the introduction of classroom curricula on the culture of
inter-ethnic relations. This is the first large-scale document on ethnic policy
in over 50 years.

Immediately following large-scale disturbances tied to
ethnic strife in Saratov Region’s city of Pugachev, the Cabinet of the Russian
Federation approved a strategy on ethnic conflict resolution.

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The adopted
“Strategy of the State National Policy of the Russian Federation for the Period
through 2025,” written by the Ministry of Regional Development, includes
82 points in various areas — from culture and education, to security.

First and foremost, the strategy stipulates that the
government will have to develop a federal program to support the unity of the
Russian nation and the strengthening of ethno-cultural nations by 2020.

documents will be developed for the regional governments, as well. For the
representatives involved in the implementation of this document, a special
training program will be developed. There is also a plan to train specialists at
foreign educational institutions in inter-ethnic relations.

In general, education is one of the main tools mentioned in
the strategy. In particular, pre-schools, grade schools and universities will
have a new subject: “culture of inter-ethnic relations.”

Also included in the document are scheduled youth
activities. For example, there are the summer political science schools and
youth education camp at the “Ethnomir” complex located in Kaluga
Region; there are also sporting events planned. As part of the strategy,
several TV programs and documentaries about the people of Russia will be

Most activities fall on the cultural side — festivals,
celebrating anniversaries, exhibitions in museums and youth festivals. Along
with the Days of Slavic Written Language and the 700th anniversary of the birth
of Orthodox St. Sergius Radonezhsky, the celebration of the 150th anniversary
of the migration of Koreans to the territory of Russia will also have support
from authorities.

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It is not completely clear yet how this will fight conflict,
but the government plans to develop a certain methodology for the
identification and elimination of conflicts.

In addition, according to the order, the government plans
to amend some legislation. For instance, the strategy touches on the law
regarding order at sporting events — most likely because, among sports fans,
there are often conflicts based on ethnic hatred.

For example, riots took place in Moscow on December 11,
2010, when nearly 5,000 people gathered on Manezh Square following the death of
a Spartak soccer team supporter, Yegor Sviridov.

The young man was killed
during a fight that took place on December 6, 2010, between a crowd of soccer
fans and a group from the Northern Caucasus.

In the investigation of the murder, law enforcement was perceived
by society as covering up for suspects who triggered the protests. The rally on
Moscow’s Manezh Square escalated into clashes with police.

The riots affected
more than 10 people, and a few dozen fans were arrested. After the riots, a
series of mass demonstrations took place, leading to street fights with natives
of the Caucasus republics living in the Russian cities.

Among the government proposals there are also regulatory
measures. The document states that activities of public associations, religious
and other nonprofit organizations will be audited, in order to identify evidence
of extremism on ethnic or religious grounds, as well as the spread of extremist
ideology and literature. Particular attention will be paid to these
organizations’ sources of funding.


It is also planned to financially support nonprofit
organizations that are engaged in inter-ethnic relations — the government will even
support student and volunteer movements.

Additionally, in the framework of the document
there is a plan to run several monitors of the strategy, to carefully observe the
balance of inter-ethnic issues in employment and keep track of pre-conflict

Aslambek Paskachev, chairman of the presidium of the nationwide
public movement “Russian Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus,”
participated in the preparation of the strategy and is confident that the main
thing now is to finance the program in its entirety and begin implementing it.

“This is the first strategy on national policy in 50
years. For the first time, [there is] a full program aimed at preserving the
integrity of the country, vis-à-vis inter-ethnic relations. All of these issues
were separately raised before; but they were engaged in various ministries and
departments, and so there was no coordination,” said Paskachev.

“Because we
have no ideological institutions — according to the Constitution — and there is no
agency that would be engaged only in national issues, the work in this
direction has been difficult.”


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He expert noted that work on the national question must be
of an accord with the work of nonprofit organizations, and it is good that support
of these organizations is built into the strategy. In addition, Paskachev agreed
that the cultural component is important and deserves the attention it is receiving.

“For example, in the youth environment, it is exactly a
familiarity with other cultures that gives a sense of security. By itself, the
festival will not solve conflicts, but it gives an understanding of other
nations,” Paskachev said.

However, the expert mentioned that, even with the
detailed measures of the 82 points, the strategy will have to be changed and

Valery Khomyakov, general director of the Council for
National Policy, is sure that, for the normalization of inter-ethnic issues, it
is important to fight corruption and to not allow officials to infringe upon
the rights of either migrants or locals.

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