On June 24th and 26th 2004 the Center for Interethnic Cooperation plans to carry out a seminar on the theme: “Interaction Betweem Ethnic Associations and the Police” in the context of the project: “Ethnic Minorities and Their Access to Justice,” subsidized by the European Union. The training will be attended by ethnic minority leaders from the Krasnodar region, representatives of the MVD Krasnodar and European Dialogue, a partner organization of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation.
For a successful turnout at the seminar, it was necessary for the Center for Interethnic Cooperation to travel to Anapa to secure the seminar venue and accommodations for the seminar participants. In addition, Center representatives visited Krasnodar to secure the attendence and cooperation of the Krasnodar administration and ethnic community leaders from the Krasnodar region.
Upon our arrival in Krasnodar in the late afternoon of May 23rd, we received a warm welcome at the bus station by the head of the Adygean community and a member of the Georgian community in Krasnodar. We were stunned by 30-degree weather and the beauty of the lively city of Krasnodar, with all its parks and pedestrian streets. We were driven to the newly established “House of Ethnic Cultures” in the heart of Krasnodar, which hosts more than 20 different ethnic communities of Krasnodar. When we got out of the car, we were already impatiently awaited by city officials and the Georgian community of Krasnodar, who happened to be celebrating the fifth anniversary of the foundation of their association. We were the last guests to arrive, and as soon as we stepped into the big auditorium, the celebrations began. Traditional Caucasian songs were sung, and dances were presented by the youngest of the community. The celebrations included a huge Georgian dinner, more than anybody could eat and drink, and dancing and singing continued until late at night. We were happy to see that ethnic communities in Krasnodar have found a space to celebrate their culture and that its traditions are well-respected and celebrated actively by the younger generation. But, at the same time, we also realized the need to expand the activities of the “House” beyond cultural celebrations. This is where the Center for Interethnic Cooperation hopes to give inspiration to the “House of Ethnic Cultures” and to lay a foundation to work together with the city officials. At a gathering of most of the heads of the ethnic communities represented in the “House of Ethnic Cultures” later in the week, we introduced our strategy and work and invited them to take part in our Anapa seminar in June. The invitation was well-received, and we are impatiantly awaiting the participation of the extremely diverse ethnic communities of Krasnodar.
Our vist to Krasnodar also shows that our work is a great balancing act most of the time. Besides meeting ethnic community leaders, we also scheduled meetings with city officials and the administration of the Krasnodar region (for example, the Ombudsman for Human Rights). The interests, motivations and discussions were at least as diverse as between the different ethnic communities, but in the end, they welcomed and supported us and our ideas, and our hopes are high that cooperation with the administration of Krasnodar will be as successfull as in other regions like Samara.