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Training in Rostov-on-Don

 

On the 25th and the 26th, there has been a training program “Teamwork - for Successful Negotiations with Authorities and for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic Minorities” in the sanatorium “Nadezhda” (Hope) in Rostov-on-Don organized by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation. The participants were leaders of the most active national associations in Rostov, Taganrog, and Novocherkassk, as well as the following representatives of the local authorities: Vladimir Vital’evich Otvagin, the main expert of the Committee on Relations to Political Parties, Public and Ethnic Associations of the administration of the Rostov district, and Yurii Anatol’evich Sidorenko, the chairman of the Committee on Public and Interregional Relations of the Rostov’s mayor.

      In contrast to previous trainings in Samara and Nizhni Novgorod, where the local administration was supporting us in organizing and realizing the trainings, this time we did not know any representative of the authorities before. This situation was result of the fact that our former partners either had left or had been removed from their posts. And the establishment of necessary contacts is always difficult. Having met Vladimir Otvagin for the first time, Ashot Airapetian, the director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, took long to explain that the Center’s business is neither to compromise the local authorities nor to unit ethnic associations against them. Otvagin asserted that there are no violations of human rights in the Rostov district. Airapetian replied that human rights are being restricted and violated everywhere, as well as the Criminal Code. Significant is only the frequency and the extent of violation. Nevertheless, to be just one mention that Vladimir Viktorovich met us with a very benevolent attitude. Due to his calls, more leaders of ethnic associations than expected took part in the training. Only three of them had known about the meaning of an interactive training before.  Besides, also representatives of the Cossack organization had been invited to the training. They take an extremely hard lined position towards immigrants. We considered a direct calm discussion the best way to search compromises and solutions for the sharp problems.

      The choice for the sanatorium "Nadezhda” (hope) as the venue of the training was completely right as the sanatorium was far away from any street or shop. Except of us, there actually didn’t live anybody. These were the best working conditions for the training. This time the training methods had been slightly changed as it had become visible on previous trainings that the leaders of communities have only a quite vague idea about the importance to organize the activities of public organizations. Therefore Felix Karacev devoted considerably more time to comprehensive explanations than in Nizhni Novgorod or Samara.

The participants defined in long discussions the following problems, with which ethnic associations from the Rostov district are confronted:

 

Problems to organize their work efficiently

Chauvinism and its forms of appearance

Absence of a precise state policy on ethnic problems

 

The following weak points of ethnic associations were drawn up:

 

Separation tendencies

Absence of special knowledge, and sufficient information

Absence of structures and/ or distribution of functional duties among the leading staff of an organization

Shortage of leaders (public and business ones), skills in finding mean sources (material, human), a systematic regular activity of the organization’s leading stuff, and precise defined action schedules

Weak attraction to induce the members (including new) to active participation

·         Inability to cooperate with bodies of authority, public organizations and the media

·         Inability to analyze the activities

·         Historical parasitism

·         Ignoring of history lessons

 

According to the opinion of the participants of the training, the following external factors have an influence on the work in the given environment:

 

The economic situation of the area

Help from the mother ethnic group

The relation to the resident population

The relation to other Diasporas

The relation to the authorities

Position of the media

Interaction with the police

Immigration

Legislative conditions

Religious tolerance/ intolerance in the region

Culture of interethnic interaction

Increasing of interest of charitable funds in national problems

 

Thus there are following threats or dangers interfering with the normal activities:

 

Actions of extremist organizations (skinheads, Russian nationalist Union (RNE), etc.)

Terrorism in Russian regions

Chauvinism and its appearance

Existence of an attractive living place/ residence (departure to a historical home land)

The war in Chechnya

Negative policy of some leaders (regional and state ones) on national/ ethnic questions (e.g. Тkatchik - Krasnodar)

Confessional questions

Absence of a distinct national/ ethnic policy

 

According to the participants of the training, an assumed coalition can have following fundamental missions:

 

Protection of the world and consent between the Diasporas in the region

Achieving an interethnic consent and cooperation on the Don

Protection of national originality within the framework of a multiethnic region

Helping the members of NGOs in the Rostov district for protecting the national originality and for integrating in the local society

 

 

For realizing these missions and for solving the existing problems the following strengths of national associations should help. That is:

 

Existence of cultural historical traditions

Period of residing in the region, language, observance of traditions and customs

Number and unity of members

Material maintenance, financial supply of the peoples

Interaction with state organs

Use of media (website, newspapers, magazines)

Cooperation with other public organizations, and in particular with national/ ethnic cultural organizations

Multi-nationality and community of cultures

Tolerance of religions

 

There have been hot disputes on these questions and loud declarations. However to the honor of the leaders of national associations of the Rostov restrict it is to mention, that they very responsibly undertook this work, and as a consequence it was for them and for the organizers of the training quite interesting to work together.

The coming out of the questionnaires filled in by the participants of the training was, that the leaders of national associations of the Rostov district unanimously considered the training as interesting, and the received skills as helpful in the further work. They also mentioned, that a coordination of efforts of ethnic associations from different regions of Russia is very useful, as well as the further realization of similar trainings for the Rostov area.