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The results of the educational seminar Cooperation between Ethnic Organizations and the Authorities in Omsk

The training session on the 27-28th of February was conducted by the Center for Interethnic Relations and the Culture Ministry of the Omsk region. The theme of the training proved to be so urgent that besides leaders from the Armenian, Bashkir, Jewish, Kazakh, Latvian, German and Tatar diasporas, there where also representatives from the Department for Interethnic Relations for the Regional Ministry of Development within the Russian Federation Aleksey Zenko, the head specialist for the Department of Ethnic Policies and Religious Affairs for the Ministry of Culture in the Omsk region Natalie Rybakov and staff from the House of Friendship of the Omsk region.

One particular distinction of the Omsk region is that, from the local participants point of view, there are no problems relating to racism, nationalism and xenophobia in their region. In this multiethnic community that is living in friendship and harmony, lots of time and energy have been devoted to intercultural cooperation. This fact became obvious when participants enumerated the objectives shared by ethnic organizations in the Omsk region:

  1. Strengthening friendship between people
  2. The preservation of the language, culture and traditions of their forefathers
It must be said that cooperation between officials and individuals, in our case representatives from ethnic minorities, is not easy in every-day life. This is confirmed by the characteristics which, according to the participants, are prevalent in both of these groups.

Representatives of ethnic minorities describe officials as having the following characteristics:

  1. Haughty
  2. Competent
  3. Arrogant
  4. Commercialized
  5. Intelligent
  6. Efficient
  7. Diplomatic
  8. Punctual
  9. Educated
Representatives from the authorities gave the portrait a grade of 4,2 (very good) in terms of accuracy.

Officials, when faced with a similar task, painted a portrait of representatives of ethnic minorities as being genuine sons and daughters of their people:

  1. Have a good command of two languages: their native language and Russian
  2. Formed lasting traditions and customs with their own people
  3. Respect other peoples cultures and work towards tolerant relations
  4. Ability to clearly state their own ideas
  5. Friendly contact
  6. Actively take part in public life in the region
  7. Identify themselves with being citizens of Omsk and Siberia
Representatives of ethnic minorities present at the seminar gave the portrait a grade of 3,9 (very good) in terms of accuracy.

Afterwards, participants of the seminar discussed the following question: What is civil society? From the very beginning of the training session, participants from local authorities and ethnic organizations assured us that their region did not have any serious conflicts based on ethnic grounds. We replied with the example of the city of Kondopoga in the Republic of Karelia, where everyone considered that there was no serious problem, but where there has been a recent rise in ethnically motivated conflict. In order for our conscience to be clear, we decided to give a more difficult assignment to those people who considered that problems of discrimination and aggression against ethnic minorities were absolutely irrelevant in their region. We asked them to determine an algorithm of behavior for representatives of authority and ethnic minorities in the following situation:


  1. A small town with a population no bigger than 30 000.
  2. On a beautiful winter day a massive fight takes place in a Georgian restaurant
  3. The fight involved 10 people from the local population and 10 from ethnic Georgians
  4. In the city, rumors have spread about a rise of even more bloody clashes which include over a 100 people on each side
The participants of the seminar coped very well with the assignment. They came up with a program of activities that satisfied participants on both sides of the seminar. However, representatives from both the local authorities and ethnic organizations, practically in unison, said that such situations must be stopped before they can even start developing in order for people to live in harmony.

Since the primary task of ethnic organizations in the Omsk region is to strengthen and build relationships, we asked the participants to propose projects that would strengthen these relations, based on a 35 million ruble budget.

Our results

Project United We Are Strong
It is directed towards the revival and the development of ethnic cultures in the region
Goal: to introduce the inhabitants of the region to the culture of the people of Priirtyshya
Time frame of the project - 2007


  1. Acquiring ethnic costumes, musical instruments and sound equipment (6 million rubles)
  2. Exhibition of peoples creative work (500 thousand rubles)
  3. Advertising (1 million rubles)
  4. Festival of childrens creative work (1.5 million rubles)
  5. Instrumental and vocal competition (1.5 million rubles)
  6. Television and radio broadcasting about ethno-cultural associations activities (1 million rubles)
  7. Master classes for leaders of creative groups (1 million rubles)
  8. Seminar for leaders of ethno-cultural associations (1 million rubles)
  9. Departure of active members to the historical native land (2 million rubles)
  10. Gala-concert (3 million rubles)
  11. Renting a Mercedes bus (4 million rubles)
  12. Gas, book-keeping and parking (2 million rubles)

Project Friendship Meridian

Goal and tasks:
- To develop contacts with other regions of Russia and foreign countries in the ethno-cultural sphere
- To encourage friendship and good relationships between peoples
- Interethnic cooperation
Time frame of the project- 1 year

Activity program:

  1. Development of a plan of action and program activities. In accordance with other projects in the region (1 million rubles)
  2. Manufacturing the blank information format ( 1 million rubles)
  3. Preparing and carrying out a Day of Ethnic Culture in Omsk Priirtyshya (exhibition, photos, concert program, exhibition DPI, round table and press conference) (13 million rubles)
  4. Manufacturing costumes and stage props (2.5 million rubles)
  5. Traveling expenses (10 million rubles)
  6. Summing up the results of the project:
       Publishing an information booklet ( 1 million rubles)
       Videotape (5000 thousand rubles)
       Gala-concert, press conference ( 500 thousand rubles)
Route: Ukraine (Kiev), Kazakhstan (Astana), Armenia (Yerevan), Israel, Germany

The fact that participants chose to include points such as Seminar for Leaders of Ethnic-Cultural Organization and The Develop of Contacts with Regions of Russia and Foreign Countries in an Ethno-Cultural Sphere showed that our work was bearing fruits. We enjoyed Omsk and the staff from the Division of Ethnic Policy with whom we had tea after the seminar to discuss the results. Our first seminar in Omsk was a success and I am confident that we will have several more seminars in the future.

Anastasiya Sviyazova


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