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Saturday 23 September

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Educational seminar in Sochi, 28th-30th June 2002
The Center for Interethnic Cooperation carried out the fourth and thus closing educational seminar for leaders of national associations and representatives of the authorities of the Krasnodar district in the sport center “Sputnik” (companion), which is twenty minutes by bus or car from Sochi. The seminar was the closing part of the project “Interethnic Consent”, financed by the Council of Europe. Ten out of seventeen participants were representing national associations from Krasnodar having become board members of the Center for National Culture of Krasnodar. Natalia Bogatereva represented the organization of “Vozrozhdenie” (renewal) from the republic Adigi, Nadezhda Dzhaparidze the “Kavkaskoe Kul’turno-Ekonomicheskoe Sodruzhestvo” (Caucasian Cultural Economical Commonwealth). The representative of the Krasnodar district was Irina Onishchenko from the Immigration Commission, and Viktor Ohrimenko, the principal of the Department for Interethnic Relations.

The actual seminar differed from others as the following persons from official organs were involved in its realization: Nadezhda Rozhova, who is the substitute of the Department on Relations with Society, with Confessions and on Interregional Relations of the Nizhni Novgorod Administration, and Nadezhda Osipova, who is the main expert of the Department on Affairs of Nationalities of the apparatus of the Administration of the Samara district.

Our strategies were quite simple and successful. Both Nadezhdas represented regions, where national minorities are living quite peacefully. The local administration has a loyal attitude towards this part of the population, and supports in addition national associations by considerable financial means. Nadezhda Osipovoij pointed out, that they spent three million Rubles (in 2003 they intend to spent even four millions) for the development of peoples living in the Samara district. The participating leaders of national associations and the representatives of authorities from the Krasnodar district were quite impressed by her statement.

Contrary to our expectations, the debates and discussions of this seminar were not more rough and fierce as in other regions, but more “successful” concerning interethnic relations. Unfortunately Servar Tedorov, the chairman of the Meskhetian Turks from the Krasnodar district, was not able to take part in our seminar. Tatyana Morozova, the leader of the Krasnodar Kasaks, broke one record of temperamental and persistent statements after another, but she did not leave the standard frameworks. More than others astonished us the representatives of the Krasnodar district’s authorities. They accurately listened and accurately took notes, and kept really quiet during the lessons. That is, they showed not this arrogant patriotic behavior like the governor of the Krasnodar district had shown. Not even the provocative question of the trainer, whether it is necessary to struggle with the authorities to find solutions for problems induced the participants to criticize the authorities. “The power is like a lion, it is neither proper to struggle with them, nor to kiss them”, Gia Hurilava, the leader of the Georgian organization, noticed wisely. Like that, this part of the discussion was finished. In addition, the conversations and discussions with the representatives of the national associations during the breaks, the evenings, and the free time showed that they do not notice special critical situations in their region. Maybe, either the representatives are to much cautious, or the Krasnodar government prefers to make PR campaigns for themselves than to take real steps on suppression of “inorodnih” (people from other tribes).

It became clear that the Center of National Cultures gained a unique experience during the ten years of working in this “most unsuccessful” region. This is for some reasons not only noticed by the mass media, but also by charitably foundations, which recently took a fancy to the topic of interethnic tolerance.

The main result of the seminar was that the situation in the Krasnodar is not that terrible and hopeless, as it seemed. And the negotiations with the authorities to find solutions for existing problems, existing in this overpopulated southern region as result of a long-term clumsy policy of the central authorities, seem to be conducted in a quite rational way.