Financing for the special federal program “Formation of a Tolerant Consciousness and the Prevention of Extremism in Russian Society” is stopped
MOSCOW, July 8. By a decision of the Government of the Russian Federation, starting from the first of January 2005, financing for the special federal program “Formation of a Tolerant Consciousness and the Prevention of Extremism in Russian Society” (2001-2005) will be stopped. “It’s suicidal” said Ludmilla Alekseeva, the chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, “for the authorities of this multiethnic state to refuse to take any kind of steps” toward the establishment of tolerance in Russian society. “We are shutting down a program on tolerance in a country in which an explosion of xenophobia is taking place,” she said. Despite the fact that the program “hasn’t solved the problem,” it at least “symbolically represents the position of our executive authorities,” Alekseeva thinks. As Aleksander Asmolov, the academic head of the special federal program, said, the program was undertaken in 2001 under the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation, and the last stage, which was to be begun in 2005, proposed a full-scale introduction of technology for the formation of a tolerant consciousness and measures for the prevention of extremism in Russian society. During the first two stages, a series of research in the majority of Russian regions was conducted, technology for the lowering of xenophobia was worked out, and a network of centers for tolerance and social security, aimed at the solving of social, ethnic, and religious conflicts, was created. Besides that, from the beginning 2005, financing for the program was supposed to increase from 25 million rubles per year to 29.2 million rubles per year. In Ludmila Alekseeva’s opinion, the budget is not burdensome for the Russian treasury. Similar measures taken by the government force human rights defenders to “further promote tolerance in our citizens at the expense of foreign funds,” which spend “millions and millions of dollars” for these goals every year, Alekseeva pointed out. The interruption of the program “is percieved as monstrous political, ideological, and economic nonsense,” in the words of Ella Pamfilova, the chairman of the Comission for Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, when speaking to Mikhail Fradkov, the chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation . “The program on tolerance and peace accepted in 2001 under the initiative of the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin as a major government decision,” as it says in the letter, ‘It was the first humanitarian program in the world aimed at the creation of social strategies for counteracting nationalism, fundamentalism, religious fanatacism, and terrorism, and for the strengthening of the consolidation of civil society. The program got a positive responses in both the Russian and international communities, having become an effective stimulus in the search for an interconfessional dialogue, and trust between different social groups in various regions of Russia. Pamfilova asked Fradkov to look into the developing situation and to “do everything possible” so that the program will be “preserved and carried out to full capacity.”
Leaders of ethnic associations from 30 different regions of Russia have taken part in the activities of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation over the past two years. Our surveys have shown that not one of them even suspected the existence of the special federal program “Formation of a Tolerant Consciousness and the Prevention of Extremism in Russian Society.” If there had been a formation of tolerant consciousness, then it was only in the depths of some scientific institution that received the lion’s share of the apportioned assets. On account of this, all the money from this special federal program in no way influenced the level of tolerance in the country.