Training in Moscow
“International System of the Protection of National Minorities”
The Center for Interethnic Cooperation carried out a training course on the issue “International System of the Protection of National Minorities” in the rest house “Kolontevo” in Moscow on the 20th till the 22nd of September 2002. Participants of the training course were leaders of national communities from Moscow, San Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Perm and Astrakhan. The course was one part of the project “International System of the Protection of National Minorities”, financial and informational supported by the Minority Rights Group (MRG).
The participants had been chosen not by chance. The four leaders of national communities from Moscow knew each other very well. They have cooperated with the Center for Interethnic Cooperation before and taken part in the Network of Ethnic Association established by our organization. Another leader from Moscow represented the Talysh organization, which was founded only some time before. They had consulted the Center for Interethnic Cooperation to get informational support for their organization. Shamil Taganiasov, representative of the Community of Turkmen Culture from the Astrakhan oblast’, had already taken part in a meeting of national Non-Government Organizations with the Consultative Committee on the Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe, organized by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation. The participants from San Petersburg didn’t know each other and have cooperated with the Center for Interethnic Cooperation for the first time.
The participants of the training course gathered on the 20th of September in the office rooms of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation. Unfortunately, two participants from Volgograd informed us two days before that they would not be able to come. And then their substitute called off, too. It is worth to mention that these were representatives of nationalities having the most national problems and biggest need for support. But at the same time these are traditionally supposed to be the most undisciplined in Russia. Therefore the Center was very okay with the idea to invite two participants from different national associations from Astrakhan. Most impressed was everybody by Gan’ Ismael’, the black skin representative of the organization “African Union” from San Petersburg. People in Moscow and San Petersburg are already used to meet people from the African continent. In the Russian provinces this is a quite rare appearance, the more as there are no organizations representing the interest of this population.
In the evening the whole group went by bus to the rest home “Kolontaevo”, which is 40 kilometers from Moscow.
The program of the training course was based on the informational materials from the MRG training “Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities” having taken place from the 16th till the 19th of May 2002. The material on “The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations for Protection of National Minority Rights” was prepared by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation. The Center is very experienced in realizing training courses, conferences and similar activities for leaders of national organizations.
Irina Kropotkina and Niara Gafarova reported on the work of the Council of Europe and the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. The lectures on the “Framework Convention for Protection on National Minorities” and the “Alternative Report of the Council of Europe as an international Instrument for Protection of National Minority Rights” caught the attention of the participants still something more the previous report.
During the round table “Problems of Protecting Human Rights in Russia: Experiences made in the Regions”, the participants reported on cases of national intolerance in their regions. This was the impulse for a quite lively discussion on the following problem: Should immigrants be considered as a national minority, or is the status “national minority” reserved for citizens of the respective country?
Evaluating the training course the participants considered the acquainted information and knowledge as important and interesting.
Four persons of the ten participants declared in their questionnaires that they could use the information and knowledge for the work of their organizations immediately. Four persons hoped that they could use it in future, two persons were doubtful about the practical use, but did not deny the possible use of the knowledge.
Ashot Airapetyan, the chair of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, Irina Kropotkina, the project’s leader, and Felix Karacev, the trainer, did estimate the training course as successful.
The outcomes of the course were that the leaders of national organizations from Russian regions are in majority not acquainted with the International System of Protection of National Minority Rights. In addition, they imagine the power of the Council of Europe and other international organizations as rather weak.
Further results and outcomes:
1. The weak knowledge of national leaders about international documents on the protection of national minority rights and their interest in this issue shows that national organizations have need for this knowledge. Hence, one decided to include the basic information of the training course “International System of the Protection of National Minorities” also in the program of further training courses. (Only recently, the Center realized a training course in Perm using the mentioned information.)
2. The participating organizations from Perm, Astrakhan and Ekaterinburg joint the Network of Ethnic Associations. Thus they got the possibility to place information about their organizations and activities on the Center’s website. The organizations became regional bases for the activities of the Center.
3. In point 4 of the Funding Application we concerned that the realization of the project could be difficult due to the small financial resources. In addition, the timeframe could be too small for carrying out a seminar, and insufficient for acquiring new knowledge. In reality, the financial means were sufficient as we asked the participants to come by rail (what is the most cheapest way to travel). In addition, the two-day duration of the training course was optimal.
4. A real problem of the training course was that we had only few handout materials for our disposal. That is the informational materials about the international system of the protection of national minorities the Center received from MRG are not translated into Russian.