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We decided to start the organization of the training course with the following experiment. In Perm’ it had been the job of the local administration to invite the leaders of ethnic communities to our training course. In Ekaterinburg we wanted to take care of this problem on our own. By the way, we did not choose the word “problem” by chance. To find out the addresses and telephone numbers of the leaders of ethnic communities is not as easy as it might seem. It is simply not possible to find them in telephone directories. And to get the information from the local administration is not easy at all. As the local administration usually has not known anything about the Center for Interethnic Cooperation until we contact them, we strive for showing them that we are monitoring the situation in their region. That is not for the purpose to give them additional troubles but to help them knowing and understanding better the problems of ethnic minorities. For this reason we are searching for the mentioned lists on our own. It is amusing, that Bugaj, the chairman of the Department of National Questions of the Ministry of Affairs of Nationalities of the Russian Federation, forbade his colleagues to hand over any information about ethnic communities. What ministry has no secrets? In our opinion information on ethnic communities must be available. Any journalist, public person, and first of all representatives of ethnic minorities should have the possibility to contact the heads of organizations represents the interests of the given ethnic group. That is the reason why we do not only search the data of ethnic communities and organize training courses for them, but also publish their data on our website.

We have found the list of leaders of ethnic minorities from Ekaterinburg finally half a year ago. As usual some of the telephone numbers were not up-to date any more and belonged already to other persons. But this is not only a problem of ethnic minorities. There have been times when the government has changed even more often. The outcomes of our Ekaterinburg experiment was that we could invite the leaders of 21 ethnic communities from Ekaterinburg and the Svetlovsk oblast’, among them the finally participating 15 persons. According to our experience from previous trainings leaders of some ethnic communities give their promise to take part in the training but do not come to the training. They dare doing so when the invitation has not been made by the administration. This is really insulting as far as we spend a lot of time in order to find a person via long-distance calls and to tell them in detail who we are, what kind of activity a training is, to whom it is dedicated, when and where it will take place, who is still invited, etc. After the initially call we send out official invitations via fax. In the invitation we point out that all expenses will be paid by the grant of the MacArthur Foundation. In addition, we inform the addressee that we would appreciate to see another representative of the organization in case that the chairman would be occupied. Finally we add that nobody in the cities, where we carried out training courses, did organize a trip for the leaders of ethnic communities to the outer region. We did not only organize the training course and paid for all expenses, but also strived for finding pensions with high comfort. It doesn’t help. People promise their participation but do not come. Doing so they withhold from them and their Diaspora the possibility to acquaint knowledge and to improve their relations with the administration. Is there no clear intra-national policy maybe because of the lack of strong ethnic organizations, the authorities can rely on? Of course, there are plenty of strong German or Jewish organizations in the regions. But the governmental national policy in a multinational country cannot only orientate on a small group of nationalities. There is still one more, pure Russian problem. According to the Law on National-Cultural Autonomy any ethnic group has, for understandable reasons, the right to found its own cultural autonomy. In a number of regions nationalists, who did not receive the support of the majority of the population at the elections, found their own Russian national cultural autonomy or public organization, which is further used as platform for frank nationalistic propaganda. There is factual nothing local authorities can do. Besides, who wants to oppress an organization representing formally the interests of the Russian majority? Although these organizations usually represent the interests of only a small group of persons, they dare to act on behalf of the Russian people. In result, local authorities often prefer not to notice the disciplined behavior and activity of say Jewish organizations not to come under fire.

In result, only 15 of the 21 invited leaders of ethnic communities took part in the training on the 18th and 19th January, which took place in the rest home “Ostrov sokrobisch” which is half an hour from Ekaterinburg. As in other cities, there were representatives of German and Jewish organizations among these 15 organizations. In the training participated also representatives of the local administration: Maya Innokent’evna Mikhalova, the chairman of the Department of Relations with Public and Religious Organizations of the Administration of the city of Ekaterinburg, and Maria Yur’evna Plyacynova, the responsible secretary of the Consultative Council on Nationality Affairs of the Svetlovsk Oblast’. 

Worth mentioning that the interethnic atmosphere in Ekaterinburg is, resembling many cities in the Northern Regions of Russia, considerable less tensed than for example in the Krasnodar district, in Moscow and in the Moscow oblast’.

Our meetings and the common work with the administrations from the Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm’ and Svetlovsk oblast’ have shown that this appearance is not only connected with the absence of a big number of immigrants, but also with the professional and specialist skills of the administrations’ personnel. Maya Innokent’evna and Marina Yur’evna had a very responsible attitude towards the training. They took actively part in all tasks given by Viktoria Shukhat, our trainer. Concerning the training, they behaved even more responsible than the leaders of ethnic communities. They were really natural and in the same time, there have not been any “boss – subordinate” relations between them and the other participants of the training.

The participating leaders of ethnic communities of Ekaterinburg and the Svetlovsk oblast’ specified 58 acute problems. The problems were as follows:

1.                      Non- perfect laws, budget, oblast’ do not allow to realize the necessary work

2.                      Laws do not work and/ or are ignored

3.                      Absence of partnership relations with other organizations and organs of the authorities

4.                      Ambitions of the leaders of ethnic communities

5.                      No abilities for a dialog

6.                      Insufficient nationality self-confidence

7.                      Formalities of the bureaucracy

8.                      Dawdling in the resolution of problems

9.                      Assimilation

10.                  Mixed marriages

11.                  No professional working on the side of the national NGO

12.                  Many are only interested in the process, but not in the purpose 

13.                  No national policy on the governmental level

14.                  No fixed priorities

15.                  Absence of a necessary Consultation Council

16.                  No interaction in between the authorities

17.                  No financial means

18.                  No coordination

19.                  Relations to law enforcement bodies

20.                  No cultural center

21.                  No registration of marriages in the residential place

22.                  Problems of language and traditions

23.                  No horses/ rams for the traditional Mari festivals

24.                  No adequate immigration policy

25.                  Employment exchange

26.                  Conflict of laws concerning ethnic minorities

27.                  Violations of human rights

28.                  Pressure of national tensions

29.                  Absence of necessary interaction with the mass media

30.                  Unprofessional journalists

31.                  Women programs

32.                  Room/ remises

33.                  Regularity of subsidies

34.                  Library

35.                  Responsibility/ who is responsible or competent for what?

36.                  No responsibility of a person regarding his/her nation

37.                  Difficulties with fundraising

38.                  The leaders of an NGO have a lack of knowledge and skills 

39.                  Emigration

40.                  Rehabilitation! Help for repressed people

41.                  Language tests (for Russian Germans who want to emigrate to Germany)

42.                  Education for Roma

43.                  Work permit/ Ministry of the Interior

44.                  Difficulties with the view on the residence place

45.                  Freedom of practicing faith

46.                  Manners of the state

47.                  Equality of all nations and ethnics before the state

48.                  Absence of tolerance

49.                  No social economical conditions for adaptation

50.                  Problems of education in the middle school (history, geography, ethnology and culture)

51.                  No constitutional state, persons and not a system

52.                  No continuity of authorities

53.                  Politicizing

54.                  Policy: “separate and rule”

55.                  The authorities manipulate and interfere with the affairs of NGOs

56.                  Political demands towards NGOs

57.                  Inner contradictions within the NGO


After having specified such a big number of problems, the participants of the training were supposed to commit their selves to the three most important (in their opinion). According to the express-inquiry the following problems are the most urgent ones:

1.                      Absence of tolerance

2.                      No constitutional state

3.                      No adequate immigration policy

4.                      Assimilation

5.                      Mass media

6.                      Absence of financial means


However, the problem “Absence of tolerance” did not only get the highest rating, but also differs considerable from the other points.

Thereafter the participants of the training defined temporary steps to be done to prepare negotiations. The outcomes of this work are as follows:

1.                      Monitoring the problems

2.                      Monitoring the legislation

3.                      Preparation of documents (project, application)

4.                      Establishment of a personal characteristic of the partner

5.                      Structuring the performance

6.                      Orientation towards a positive result

7.                      Knowledge how to escape from a situation with negative results

8.                      Argumentation advantageous for both sides

9.                      Possibility that partners share the expenses for the project

10.                  Influence channels (Mass media)


After answering to questions concerning the foregoing preparation, Viktoria divided the participants of the training into three groups. She asked them to collect and to write down which arguments they would use during negotiations. Then, one representative of each group had to present the results and give commentaries. The outcomes were as follows:


First group:

1.                      Knowledge about the problem from the inside

2.                      Having resources (organizational, personal, more rarely – financial)

3.                      Having information concerning the problem

4.                      Direct interest in the anticipated result

5.                      Prevention of interethnic conflicts

6.                      Visiting-card of the organization and partners with authority

7.                      Active support of the given project by the mass media


Second group:

Packet of documents

1. Argumentation of the general significance, importance and actuality of the project

a.           Meeting of the interest of the different sides

b.           Statistic investigations

c.           Monitoring of the project

2. Including of experts/ specialists

3. Support of sponsors, other organizations, estimates of expenses, expenses, part of financial commitments, space of time of the realization

4. Professional cadre, chair of the organization

5. Evaluation of the project, results

6. Coordination of activities with other organizations

7. Forms of a further cooperation with state organs

-              Development of the direction расширение направлений

-              Information about the results


Third group


1.                      Development and conservation of the ethnos

2.                      Integration in the local culture

3.                      Development of tolerance

4.                      Increase of the general cultural level

5.                      Economic development

6.                      Achievements  


Worth mentioning, that Viktoria paid much attention to the informational part of the training course in Ekaterinburg, as the previous training had turned out the need of receiving this information.  

The next day, on Sunday at 10 o’clock in the morning, Ashot Airapetyan, the director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, opened the second training day. He talked about one and a half hour about the problem of the protection of ethnic minorities of Russia, about the international and Russian laws dedicated to the support of these minorities, about the Network of Ethnic Association and its tasks and purposes, and about the project in general. He also reported on the success with ethnic associations and local authorities achieved in different Russian regions, etc.

After the following informational part, the participants of the training were separated into two groups. Then the role game “Negotiations of leaders of ethnic communities with the authorities for the elaboration of a tolerance program” started. We had chosen one of the problems, which had got the highest ratings on the first day. To make the game more realistic, the representatives of the authorities had to play their selves. And… the negotiations ended without results. Like in Perm, it turned out that the leaders of ethnic associations were considerable worse prepared than the “authority” group. They proposed a small project with a negligible budget the authorities, which could neither have big influence on the tolerance of the inhabitants of Ekaterinburg, nor of the Svetlovsk oblast’. The authorities proposed to postpone the negotiations for the elaboration of a basic and global plan for the support of tolerance and declared their interest in the support of this program. However, this is a good result. Let us hope that the leaders of local ethnic communities will use this chance.