I  N  T  E  R  E  T  H  N  I  C
News archive of Center for Interethnic Cooperation
The Website of The Center for Interethnic Cooperation
News from the Center



Training in Krasnoyarsk: Youth Initiatives in Opposing Xenophobia, Racism and Extremism
May 30- June 1


Straight from Irkutsk, having got on the train, we journeyed to the other side of Siberia- Krasnoyarsk. With us were trainers from the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, Victoria Shukhat, Ashot Ayrapetyan and two volunteers from Canada, Miriam Larose and Deanna Allan. In addition were representatives of the administration Svetlana Plakhotnikova, leader of the Dagestan Society Akhmed Zakaryaev and Elena Tarakanovskaya, an activist from a Polish society. It was an enormous benefit that they were able to travel with us, especially because the training conducted in Krasnoyarsk had been planned to be carried out inter-regionally. It was the first training from the second cycle of the project Development of the Network of Interethnic Organizations for the Opposition of Racism in Russia. It carried the name Problems and Perspectives of Network Development. This project of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation was completed in partnership with the European-wide Network UNITED, about which a lot has already been written. UNITED has for many years been occupied with forming a youth social union in Europe, in the rubric of which now exist over 500 organizations. Although it is made up of various NGOs, they are all united by the belief that the threatening escalation of fascist moods in the youth sphere is not a myth, but harsh reality. This requires impulse actions from those interested in this problem. In this case, they all recognize the need for a professional level of work, something that our youth organizations consider to be a matter of the future. Our dream is creation and strengthening through the Russian youth a network of Russian youth which will work effectively. As such, the director of UNITED Geert Ates is involved with every measure of this project, in order to personally share with the participants with principals and methods of the Network.

Staying with Krasnoyarsk hosts were representatives from youth organizations from Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk. Krasnoyarsk itself, however, the capital of an enormous interethnic territory, assembled in its institutions of higher education representatives of the diverse people which populate its enormous territory. To our surprise it appeared that the young representatives of native to the area nationalities, such as Tuvintsy, Khakasses, Yakuts, and Buryats also experience negative reactions from the majority. It is obvious that the problem of interethnic tolerance in Siberia is far from permissible and exists without taking into account historical validity.

It is necessary to note that this completely organizationally and financially complex seminar plan took place with the active support of our Krasnoyarsk friends. A colleague from the Interethnic Cultural Center of Krasnoyarsk Territory, Anna Perlova, organized questions. In the duration of the conference it became known that Anna became the director of the fore-mentioned organization. We were very happy for her and everybody considered that a better director did not exist. The financial support for the seminar was provided by Ramzan Tsokayev, administrator for the Division of Interethnic Relations of the Organization for Social Bonds connected with the Administration of Krasnoyarsk Territory. This is one of a few regions in Russian where administration always plays a more active role in financing our projects. Probably, it stands as such because of the high level of interethnic relations central to the development of the territory. We wanted to express great gratitude for this. Strictly speaking, the whole project took place thanks to a grant from the European Union. So it is all the more pleasant to meet authorities who are interested in helping tolerance flourish and to support positive youth activity as much as their European counterparts.

We make the efforts to carry out our seminars in interesting, memorable places. This place, which was recommended to us by our Krasnoyarsk friends, was one of the most surprising. Manns Creek, well-known to many fans of alloys, flowed round many world-famous Krasnoyarsk points. The place made a memorable impression even on the local residents, to say nothing of the guests to the territory.

All the representatives from youth social organizations who had gathered were unanimous in their concern over the current tendencies in the youth sphere. Therefore, we first determined with the participants a psychological portrait of a young person who could be a potential participant in disorderliness along interethnic lines. The basic features of his character are such:

Fundamental patterns for potential participants in disturbances.

  1. Adolescent
  2. Drunk
  3. Inherent herd instinct.
  4. Feeling of impunity
  5. Not satisfied with life
  6. Not satisfied with government
  7. Want an intense feeling.
In all, it is a sad and disturbing picture. The absence of any special signs is disturbing in itself, as this is a person similar to many, ordinary others. The point on being not satisfied with the government attracts attention, as it seems to the author of this article that it is a serious means to authorities at different levels to recognize that person who is inclined to pogroms on nationalistic sentiments can suddenly move to the organs of authority. This also happened in Kondopog in its time. Consequently, active and structural operations on warning of interethnic conflicts are in the interest of every authority at different levels. Moreover, the effectiveness of opposition, rationalizing the budget and conforming to the measures is very easy to validate. Everyday conflicts in Russia occurred, occur and will continue to occur in numbers. It is sad, but it is tradition. If they found their way into the national level it would be significant and dangerous. One of the best methods of opposition is the creation of youth organizations, which both in values and morals oppose those of the Nazis.

Even more effective is the association of such organizations into the network, which is our current work.

Reflecting on the technicalities of the work of the network, however, it becomes clear that the key moment of interest for youth of various social movements is the personality of the leader of the group. Therefore, we asked our participants:

What traits should a leader of youth action posses?

  1. Responsible
  2. Purposeful
  3. Interested
  4. Smart
  5. Tolerant
  6. Hard-working
  7. Communicative
  8. Enterprising
  9. Erudite
  10. Charismatic
  11. Young
  12. Active
  13. Nice
  14. Aware of his/her own culture
The list came out remarkable, especially in contrast with the previous.

We always pay close attention to the terms that emerge. As such, we decided to analyze the current understanding among youth of the following terms: racism, nationalism and fascism. To our surprise, in two different groups the participants followed very logical, reason-based sequences:

Group 1

Racism:

  1. superiority of one race over another
  2. a feeling of hostility to other races
  3. the totality of the concepts of nationalism and fascism
Nationalism:
  1. the infringement of rights and freedoms of the representatives of specific nations
  2. conflict between the people of different nations
Fascism:
  1. aggression and cruelty towards a person based on their eyes, the colour of their hair, etc.
  2. non-acceptance of a person from another nation, including his/her annihilation.

Group II

Racism at the level of personality- this is the oppression of one specific race (everyday level) of the USA (oppression of Afro-Americans)

Nationalism at the society level- the isolation and definition of ones own nation as the leading nation. (Conflicts with Georgia, Tatar-Mongolian yoke, skinheads.)

Fascism at the governmental level- the physical destruction of other nations. Enslavement of different nationals. Defining itself as the highest nation (state policy).

We liked that the seminar participants approached the problem so seriously and expressed conscious judgments. Therefore to discuss the following question about tolerance we also began from considering the meaning of the term. The following answers were obtained:

Tolerance is:

  1. Mutual respect towards people of another culture, their traditions, customs and religion.
  2. Teaching tolerance in the family and at school.
  3. Being well-mannered
  4. Readiness for learning and perceiving
  5. Dialogue about different interests
  6. Benevolence
  7. Respecting the law
  8. Compromise
  9. Correctness in statements
  10. Culture of contact (behavioral ethics)
  11. Interaction with other nations
  12. Presence of legal conscience
  13. Education of others
  14. Openness
  15. How you relate to other religions
  16. Absence of egocentrism (support, self-control)
  17. Understanding
  18. Adopting another
  19. Expression of culture
  20. Indifference
  21. Equality
  22. Observance of peoples rights
  23. Ability to accept others
  24. Ability of individual or generally of people to tolerantly relate to the representatives of other nationalities and religions
  25. Tact, general culture of behavior, the desire to understand
  26. Tolerance
  27. Tolerance (to dissent, to other means of life, traditions, customs, dispositions, social inequality based on financial means, etc)
  28. Respect for people with different opinions and views.
  29. Respect for different traditions.
  30. Ability to live in agreement.
  31. Ability to accept people as they are.
  32. Level of ones own culture.
  33. Considering strange interest and special features.
After which, the participants were asked to evaluate the current level of tolerance in Siberia according to the elementary 5-point scale: 1-it is terrible; to 5-it is excellent. The graph produced wholly demonstrated the results expected:

Level of Tolerance in Sibiria


It goes without saying that these results left no one indifferent and participants formulated reasons which, to their view, caused this picture:

The cause of a low level of tolerance:

  1. Environment at home
  2. TV
  3. Media
  4. Ignorance
  5. Envy
  6. Absence of goals
  7. Psychological conflicts in family
  8. Socializing at school (outside, institution)
  9. Circle of contact (personal)
  10. Execution (?) of extremist groups and leaders
  11. Social-economic situation
  12. Narcotics/alcohol
  13. Media, bullies
So, it is evident that if there is understanding of the causes of the problem, then the actions that need to be taken are clearer. Recommendations included:

Steps for raising the level of tolerance:

  1. Create a collective (organization)
  2. Create a program which is designed for different social institutions given to one idea
  3. Create a systematic center for the instruction of these programs in different places of work
  4. Printed materials
  5. Festivals of peoples friendship
  6. Inter-regional cooperation
  7. Mass actions (conferences, holidays, concerts)
  8. Interaction with media
  9. Interaction with authorities
  10. Releasing printed materials (video, audio)
  11. Interaction with different social organizations
  12. Instruction of tolerance in schools (designing action)
  13. Organization and conducting of interethnic retreats
  14. Preventative maintenance of extremism and political organizations
  15. Presence of a social specialist in municipalities (administration)
  16. Leading seminars with police and preparing specialists to lead such seminars
A productive and sufficiently intelligible list. It is not entirely clear, however, if this is such an important theme for the state, why up until now it has not occurred on a wide, state scale, as it occurs in other regions will the help of a prosperous regional budget, public organizations and by the voluntary activity of devotees. Therefore, in an effort to clear up the matter, participants answered the question:

Why is it beneficial to be tolerant?

  1. In order to have fewer conflicts
  2. To equalize the national strata of society
  3. Socio-economic stability
  4. World peace
  5. Order
  6. Lessening conflicts
  7. Mutual enrichment
  8. Comfort and safety
  9. Preserving cultural diversity
  10. Peaceful existence


After having presented at the seminar, the activists form youth organizations turned to the task at hand: an activity to work out what would motivate young people to move forward the idea of tolerance in the mass conscience. The following are examples of possible action of youth organizations:

Possible projects

  1. Protest actions
  2. Interethnic campaigns
  3. Friendship caravan
  4. Beauty contest Miss Asia
  5. Interethnic Football Cup
  6. Interethnic disco + media
  7. Interethnic youth retreat
  8. Inter-regional meetings
  9. Meetings, marches, demonstrations
  10. Internet youth site
  11. Rock-festival with well-known performers
  12. Site
  13. Trainings
  14. Lessons on tolerance at school
  15. Festival of national dress
  16. Joint synchronized actions
  17. Marches in the city
  18. Ethno-club
Following this, we asked seminar participants to develop a concrete, step-by-step plan of how to bring to fruition some of the most outstanding projects. This was done with pleasure:

Project

PSK (Practical-Scientific Conference)
Preservation and succession of language, literary-cultural heritage
   - library collection
    - preparation of form (report)
    - total collection
Creating a youth ethnic internet site
    -developing a project, collecting information on each organization
    - presentation of site (press-conference, press release to all organizations which are involved with ethnic youth issues.
    - uploading information at least once a week to the site.

Carrying out the action Changing places
   - agree on an organization (in such cases, attract national and political organizations)
   - collect information for exchange
   - the study of culture, customs and possibly internet-sites, ability to exchange between regions
   - selection of pairs
   - illumination of the media, internet-site
   - visual material
   - conducting training as the total

For carrying out the project one needs:
   - desire, initiative
   - financial support
   - materials for capturing video and photo images

For carrying out the lessons on tolerance
   - In secondary schools and high-schools, prisons, media
   - writing a grant proposal
   - co-action with local authorities and attracting volunteers from different countries

Interethnic Disco
idea of culture, renting of venue and sale of tickets, advertising

Interethnic Football Cup
    creating teams from each organization
    support of a sponsor
    purchasing television time

Debate on the theme of tolerance
    attracting youth
    selecting the best speakers
    attract the work of international organizations

Comedy Club International
   - information
   - participant selection
   - search for investors, sponsors

Interethnic Sporting Event
   - Attracting professional athletes
   - Notifying the media
   - Ascertain prizes

Friendship Caravan
   - Attracting groups of performers from each ethnic societ
   - Designing the program (dances, songs, ethnic dishes, etc.)
   - Choosing a destination (near-by towns)
   - Advertising in the towns informing of upcoming performances
   - Search for sponsors
   - Related to all the aforementioned projects: participation of the media!

Miss Asia Siberia 2007
Situated in Siberian cities

  • Sponsors
  • attracting media
  • Participants, organizers
  • Talent, engaging girls who would bring their customs to the arena for the education of all involved.
Patriotic-war game Zarnitsa
  • Location, agreement of local administration and military division, youth ethnic associations etc.
  • Healthy recruits
  • Patriotic spirit of youth
  • Advertising of Russian army
We are sure that all of these measures can be successfully carried out. But at an individual level, they have the possibility to change the level of tolerance in society, especially among youth. And most importantly, a wish to the young activists: dont be afraid to use your strength to push forward the idea of TOLERANCE as a fundamental state issue. From the governmental side, one can hope that they will receive public support for their efforts.

Victoria Shukhat



1993-2003
Web-Master


If you have some interesting information about interethnic
situation in your region or about activity
of your organisation, we would be glad to
post it on our website
center@interethnic.org