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Round Table on Tolerance and Megapolis Culture Held in St. Petersburg

A round table on the theme of Tolerance and Megapolis Culture was held at the British Council in St. Petersburg on July 20, 2007.

Participants included representatives of social, ethnic and cultural organizations from St. Petersburg and London: musicians, historians, ethnographers as well as experts on problems of racism.

The round table was conducted within the framework of the British Councils project "UK Flavors", which was aimed at familiarizing the Russian audience with the culture of ethnic minorities in modern Great Britain. The program was organized by the concert agency NCA in collaboration with the Committee for Culture and Committee for External Affairs of the St. Petersburg administration.

The director of the Center of Independent Social Studies, Oksana Karpenko, stated that 60% of the St. Petersburg population is in favor of expelling from the city newcomers from southern republics. Karpenko also said that in Russia, racism is considered to affect only small groups of people, whereas the population as a whole is considered to be tolerant. However, the actual situation is that society nurtures racist sentiments, which is especially clear if you pay attention the populations attitude towards nonnative people.

In the opinion of Irina Levinskaya, lead researcher at the St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the causes of the problem lie in the huge gap between was is actually occurring within society and the impulse coming from the authorities. As an example, Levinskaya quoted the citys governor Valentina Matvienko who said, in regards to kebab kiosks at the Ladozhsky train station: St. Petersburg is not the Caucasus!.

Valentina Uzunova, colleague of Nikolai Girenko and researcher at the Museum of Anthropology of the Kunstkamera, also took part in the discussion. Nikolai Girenko, a renowned ethnologist, was murdered by a neo-fascist group in June 2007.

Source: Sova Center


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