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Training Session in Yekaterinburg
We Built a Monument to Tolerance

Working in Yekaterinburg is always a pleasure, even if it means working throughout a holiday and with minus thirty weather to boot. From February 24 to 25, the Center for Interethnic Cooperation had the chance to lead a training session at the House of Peace and Friendship in Yekaterinburg on the theme of Networking Youth Organizations. We received great support from the Sverdlovsk Department of Internal Affairs and from the director of the House of Peace and Friendship, Tagir Sultanov. The House of Friendship is a beautiful and comfortable mansion in the center of the city, and we were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves for two days. The participants were fed delicious meals, tea and coffee. It is not the first time that the people in Yekaterinburg have treated us like close friends. We can even say that it is already a tradition. In a few regions of Russia, the authorities work very well, in others there are strong ethnic organizations, but Yekaterinburg is blessed with both. February 24th , in the early morning, twenty-five young people gathered at the House of Friendship, along with our old acquaintance Marina Plyasunova, of the Department of Internal Affairs. Among the participants were many familiar faces: Aram from the Armenian organization, Suleiman from the Chechen, Osman from the Ingushetian and Nazim from Gorny University. They have all taken part in at least one of our previous events. Apart from activists from ethnic organizations, representatives of Yekaterinburgs youth organizations partook in the training sessions.

At the beginning of the training seminar the participants drew a portrait of what they believed to be a typical youth from Yekaterinburg.

Young person

  1. Loves to drink and have a good time
  2. Egoist
  3. Apolitical, gregarious
According to their assessment of a typical youth from Yekaterinburg, one might think youths from this region are slightly obnoxious. Can one expect that such a young person will be able to relate with representatives from other regions of Russia in a positive manner? Before answering that question, the participants of the training session broke out into small groups and tried to clarify the meaning of the word tolerance. As expected, the results were similar from group to group. The young people then created a diagram showing what they believed to be the level of tolerance in the Sverdlovsk district, having the representatives of ethnic groups writing in red, and the remaining participants writing in blue. The survey showed that there was a much wider discrepancy in opinion among the non-Russians as there was among the Russians. The level of tolerance in the Sverdlovsk district turned out to be a grade of 3 out of 5 - this corresponds with past surveys done by schoolteachers and municipal workers in the area.

Afterwards, the participants had to imagine a Monument to Tolerance, and groups of four were created, and they had to come up with their own ideas of what a monument of tolerance would look like. The results were simply fantastic.

Then, the leaders of youth organizations reflected on the qualities needed from a leader of the youth movement. These are the results:


  1. Goal oriented
  2. Responsible
  3. Kind
  4. Tolerant
  5. Authority
  6. Charismatic
  7. Educated
  8. Honest
The young people partook in the interactive games with great enthusiasm. The walls of the House of Friendship resonated with their laughter. We were lucky, as the Sverdlovsk television show Izmerenye N filmed part of the seminar and therefore, tens of thousands of spectators in the region were able to catch a glance of these diverse and engaging youths.

At the seminar, I described the activities of the European Network Against Racism and Xenophobia, whose organizers happen to be our Dutch partner UNITED, and about the Russian and international experience in carrying out various events to support tolerance and equality.

What are the ways a youth organization can increase tolerance in its region? The question received the following answers:

Possibilities available to youth organizations

Entertainment: show, KVN, sports events, sports days, relays, cultural events (theater, music, festivals, concerts)

Information: TV channels, radio, websites, newspapers, magazines, leaflets, specialized courses in educational institutions, ads.

Action: exchange programs, international connections, joint action with businesses, developing relations with official structures

With such remarkable resources available, what can a youth organizations do to increase the level of tolerance in the Sverdlovsk region? Our experience with similar training sessions in other regions has shown that a simple list of events produces little results. In order for a few of them to come to life, it is necessary to find a source of funds and to develop a suitable project with a group of interested people. What financial resources exist in the region and what project ideas interest the participants of the seminar? That portion of our work was set aside for the next day of the seminar, on February 25.

My hotel was a short 15 minute walk away from the House of Friendship. I decided to go by foot. It turned out to be the wrong decision, as that Sunday turned out to be the coldest day all winter in Yekaterinburg. Considering the situation, we were surprised and, of course, enthusiastic to see 25 young people the next morning arrive at the House of Friendship.

Olga, a young representative of the Department for Youth Affairs, talked about the numberable financing possibilities for youth projects. Although, it is true that money for big projects will only be available within a year, it is possible to receive some of that money more quickly. The Yekaterinburg administration has declared a competition for projects, however, the maximum amount that can be awarded is 30 000 rubles.

The survey Which projects can raise the level of tolerance in the region produced the following results:

  1. Evening at the club
  2. Lessons of tolerance in school
  3. Large social events such as rock concerts
  4. Youth camps
  5. Networking with youth organizations
  6. Sports
Then the participants of the seminar discussed project ideas in groups of four:

Project Evening at the club
We are different, but we are together

  1. Working on the signs, branding
  2. Goal: unity (ethnic and cultural)
  3. Age group: 14-30 y.o.
  4. Events: contests, programs, games, show, performance from the representatives, display of national cuisines, speeches by the participating organizations
  5. Budget:
       a) rent for the hall (400 people) 70 000 rubles
       b) preparation of the signs (printing, production, prizes) 100 000 rubles
       c) material 15 000 rubles
       d) salaries (from 5000 rubles for one person)
       e) miscellaneous 20 000 rubles
       f) costs for national cuisine
    Total: about 220 000 rubles

Sports events

  1. friendly matches
  2. arm wrestling
  3. racing on hands
  4. tug-of-war
  5. archery
  6. shoe throwing
    (prizes, participants, spectators, money, judges, room, program, sponsor, ads, media, inventory, estimate)

Youth camp

  1. Base on the amount of people. 100-150 is our initial estimate, however, this number may grow.
  2. Participants from different ethnic associations and students
  3. Organizing committee: the program and the goals of the camp
  4. Media: analysis of the events of the project and its results
  5. Sponsors (partial and group partnerships)
  6. Details of the Camp
       - 5 days
       - Holidays and weekends
       - Planned in February and March
       - Announcements during youth evenings
       - Program: cultural days, joint events
       - Time frame: July

Project Lessons of Tolerance in Schools

  1. Teachers from the Center for Tolerance (specialists in teaching tolerance)
  2. Agreement with the educational institution
  3. Elaboration of interesting and accessible activities for the schoolchildren (games, discussions, tales)
  4. Exchange trips to other regions and countries
  5. Collection of material
  6. Specialist literature (tests, questionnaires), scientific and artistic literature
  7. Work with the teaching staff
  8. Work with the participants (ideas, opinions, remarks)
  9. Celebration of national holidays, getting to know more about other cultures
  10. Creation of a brand name for each collective
  11. Invitation to the media (specialized TV programs 5 Counts, TV Pupil)


    - to encourage citizens to be respectful and considerate of other cultures
    - to develop the practices needed for a harmonious interethnic society
    - to spread the idea of tolerance

    - training sessions for children
    - educational games
    - festivals
    - sports
    - evenings of ethnic activities
    - information through direction, schools, youth committees
    - search for a home
    - transfer
    - training sessions for leaders

    - staff salaries
    - pedagogical staff and leaders salaries
    - food
    - accommodation

Youth Camp in Anapa Friendship of the People 2007

  1. Organization: Armenian community Ani-Armenia
  2. Goals:
       - to gain experience in holding similar events and to eventually hold a similar one in our region
       - to establish contacts with youth organizations for further collaboration
       - to learn more about the problems related to tolerance in other regions, the methods used to fight them and to discuss the state of tolerance currently in our region
  3. Collection of information about the problems related to tolerance, psychological group training sessions, games, seminars, interethnic competitions (dancing, KVN, etc.)
  4. Transport (3000 rubles/person)
    Accommodation, food (150 rubles/person/day)
The project ideas are great, now the question is whether they will materialize. Near the end of the seminar, the participants stood shoulder to shoulder and loudly repeated together the slogan We are different, but we are together, it was difficult to think that these projects would only ever exist on paper.

In order for youth organizations to fully work together, they need the support of adults. We discussed this with leaders of ethnic organizations and representatives of authorities of Yekaterinburg and of the Sverdlovsk region later that same day. In the evening as we were sitting on the train heading towards Omsk, I reflected on our successes in Yekaterinburg and was looking forward to our next seminar.

This training was one of the series of trainings carried out in the framework of the partnership project of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation and UNITED Development of the Network of Interethnic Organizations for the Opposition of Racism in Russia

Ashot Ayrapetyan


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