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A New Level of Cooperation: First Steps of a Network Against Xenophobia in Russia

The Center for Interethnic Cooperation conducted an inter-regional conference from 20 to 22 August in Anapa, Krasnodar territory on the topic of �Developing a network of ethnic organizations for the opposition to xenophobia in Russia�. This conference was a part of the project �Developing a Network of Ethnic Organizations in Opposition to Xenophobia in Russia.� The project was carried out by the Center for Interethnic Cooperation in partnership with the organization UNITED, the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees. In two days, conference participants exchanged information about the ethnic situation in their regions, discussed successful techniques for the formation of tolerance and positive work experience with different audiences. Furthermore, there was the opportunity to develop a plan of action for each region, whose public organizations were interested in participating in the work of a Russian network of ethnic non-governmental organizations opposed to racism, xenophobia and fascism. It was precisely for this reason that the representatives of NGOs and authorities of 12 regions of Russia, and also international experts, gathered in Anapa.

At the beginning the participants were gathered at a planning session in a hotel, where the representatives of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation and the experts from UNITED discussed the tasks of the project.e tasks of the project. Further participants worked in two groups - colleagues of regional administrations and activists from national public associations - in order to exchange opinions and to create a unified idea about purposes and tasks of a network. The group of administrators provided enough time for the exchange of information around successful regional projects directed toward an increase in tolerance both among the national majority and among the national minorities. The director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation Ashot Ayrapetyan mediated the group work. Similar work has occurred in Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Volgograd, Yaroslavl, Voronezh, Perm, Samara, Stavropol, Krasnodar and Anapa

  1. �Celebrating 1000 years of Yaroslavl�
  2. Conducting a joint culture event (festival, holiday)
  3. Project �Ethnic towns�
  4. Action �Common memory�
  5. Establishing monuments
  6. Conducting round tables and seminars
  7. Joint publishing and ethnic activity
  8. Conducting a referendum on the question of the union of regions
  9. Joint law-making activity
  10. Competition �Strangers are welcome�
  11. KaMeLot
  12. Action �Kristallnacht- Never Again�
  13. Action �Stop Nazism/Stop Racism�
  14. School of multicultural interaction (Ethnica)
  15. MDN- New Year�s celebration
  16. Ethnic carnival
  17. Youth discussion club
  18. Moscow multiethnic
  19. Pomegranate holiday - Armenian year in Russia
  20. Action �For tolerance� joint sessions with state authorities, law-enforcement agencies, media, administration
  21. From heart to heart- support of migrants and forced migrants
  22. Zone of free registration � 2 months� free migration card without sanctions
  23. Joint action, directed by materials on the theme of tolerance
It was clear to everybody that considering the level of tolerance in the regions, the number of activities for building tolerance in regions was simply not enough. As such, conference colleagues from the state authorities made a second list �events which are necessary for a concrete, qualitative positive change in the interrelations between representatives of different nationalities, public opinion relating to migrants and the position of the power structure and law-enforcement agencies. Their results were:


  1. Monitoring- collection of analytical information
  2. Creation of a data bank
    • National cultural centers
    • Disturbances of the law
    • NGO social partners
  3. Plan of actions
  4. Organization of projects, campaigns, actions
  5. Search for means
  6. Organizing volunteer actions
  7. Working with the media
  8. Interaction with networks and government authorities at different levels
  9. Preparing a report on the results
  10. Sharing the report with interested persons
  11. Creation of a data bank
  12. Determining priority of direction of action
  13. Education (seminars, trainings, round tables) of leaders and volunteers
  14. Monitoring organization
  15. Forms of work:
    • social receiving committee, juridical consultation
    • joint action in the adaptation of migrants
    • publishing and handing out informative materials
    • joint social and cultural action
    • carrying out of educational projects
    • interaction with mass-media: press releases
    • partnering with authorities
  16. Summing up the results in a report
  17. Maintaining contacts with interethnic and all-Russian organizations
During this time, representatives from NGOs were working on a different task. To start, trainer Victoria Shukhat form the Center for Interethnic Cooperation (CIC) asked participants for formulate foundational principles, goals, tasks and work tools for a network. This task challenged participants who, until this day, had had a clear picture about the techniques of a network, commented Geert Ates, director of UNITED from the Netherlands and Florin, a trained professional from France.

Russian participants formulated the following situation:

What is a �Network of Public Organizations�

  • Public organizations united by themes, tasks, goals and territory
  • Network must have a developed system of communication, electronic and printed media
  • Rapid exchange of reliable information, renovation of information base
  • Ability to execute joint projects
  • United resources- material, organizational, and other
  • Coordinating committee
  • Execution of base projects
  • General support of initiative of separate participants of network
  • Monitoring and analysis of situation by problems
Goals of the network � Opposition to xenophobia and support of human rights

Tasks of the Network:

  • forming of public opinion
  • helping members of the network
  • rallying of resources
  • exchange of information

Tools of the Network:

  • Conferences
  • Mass actions
  • Trainings
  • Publishing activity
  • Creating contacts with other public organizations in different regions and countries
  • Attracting the attention of public to memorable dates
After these concepts were outlined, the participants approached the following task. They were asked to record the results of beneficial experiences that their NGOs had bore witness to. It is necessary at this point to underline that one of the tasks of the conference was to integrate the successful experience that NGOs had in the techniques of network interaction.

Victoria asked participants to exchange information about activities in three areas: interaction with authorities, working with youth, and counteraction against racism and xenophobia. The results were exceedingly interesting:

Positive contact with authorities

  • United ethno-cultural organizations
  • Inviting authorities to seminars and trainings
  • Financing through grants �������������� ����� ������
  • Attracting the councils of diasporas for the resolution of situations of conflict
  • Monitoring the situation
  • Regular meetings with legislative authorities and consultations with administrative authorities
  • Advance in the legislative authority
  • Initiation of participation in the development of legislative acts
  • Personal amicable connections
  • Informative communication
  • Going beyond the limits of regions. Exchange of experience, including that at the international level
  • Formation of a positive relationship with authorities in the sphere of NGOs

Positive contact with youth

  1. Organizing cultural events:
    • Concerts
    • Educational events- history lessons, cultures and languages of different peoples
    • Trainings for the development of leadership qualities, leading organizations etc.
  2. Execution of sporting events, education and competitions between different diasporas
  3. Work with groups of elementary school students
  4. Social work in family- competition for young families, Father�s Day, Mother�s Day, etc.
  5. Untraditional sports
  6. Professional youth orientation
  7. Interethnic creative collective
  8. Communication with interethnic youth organizations
  9. Organizing scholarship competitions for youth
  10. Development of leisure activities from youth
  11. Disseminating printed materials about peace and tolerance
  12. Advertising spiritual lifestyle, cooperative work heads of religion
  13. Monitoring youth sphere

Positive experience with opposition to racism and xenophobia

  1. Mass-cultural interethnic actions
  2. Educational activities
  3. Interethnic sporting events
  4. Charity
  5. Highlighting diverse activities of NGOs and mass-media on the Internet
  6. Interethnic conferences
  7. Educational work in educational institutions
  8. Publishing activity
  9. Forming of a citizens� stand
  10. Schools� and students� exchange
  11. Working with at risk
  12. Creating socially-directed advertising
  13. Work with Ministry of Internal Affairs
  14. Holding competitions on the theme of tolerance
  15. Direct support for the victims of racism and discrimination
  16. Exchange of experience with international organizations
  17. Creating a committee with local legislative bodies to fight against racism and xenophobia
  18. Regular consultations with different representatives of legislative powers
  19. Trainings with the participation of legislative powers
A logical end for the conference work became the creation of a precise algorithm of consecutive actions which would be essential for those involved in the network �inside a region� to undertake.

Planned schedule for work on the �Inside a Region� network

  1. Official press-conference at the Russian level at the beginning of the program work with representatives of personnel: month 1
  2. Highlighting the work flow in mass media month: 1-18
  3. Creating material bases
  4. Creating a site, e-mail account: month 1
  5. Creating a cadre reserve: months 1-6
  6. Developing a network of agents (institutions of higher education): months 1-6
  7. Search for and communication with all organizations involved in the fight against racism and xenophobia
  8. Conducting PR activity: months 4-18
  9. Conducting conferences, round tables, trainings: months 6-18
  10. Creating own resources for legal support: months 12-18
  11. Address book of public and governmental organizations: months 14-18
  12. Educational seminars: months 1-6
  13. Excursion youth camps for the selection of volunteers, training: month 17
  14. Information exchange with different regions and main centers: months 1-18
  15. Preparation of training on human rights: months 1-18
In this case especially one should note that the representatives from different regions were impressed by the cumulative effect that they reached only with the help of agreeing to united action and goals of the organizations which made up the network.

The planned schedule for work on the network �Common Actions�

  1. Coordination training for developing goals and tasks for the execution of the project
  2. Creating a common information base
  3. Creating an information center
  4. Recruiting participants
  5. September 21: Ethnic Peace Day
  6. Dissemination of informative pamphlets with results and analysis
  7. Training for the monitoring and analysis of �Effectiveness of the work on the Network project�
  8. November 9: Day Against Fascism
  9. November 16: Tolerance Day
  10. December 10: Day of Human Rights Protection
  11. Gaining experience in Holland
  12. March: all-Russian Week Against Racism
  13. June 1: Day of Children�s Protection
  14. July: Youth Summer Camp
  15. Fall: Training �Techniques for Working with Youth�
  16. December: a wrap up conference for project results
What is left to add is that the resulting outcomes of the conference were a concrete agreement and an organizational decision that MORE CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED TOGETHER!

Victoria Shukhat

� 1993-2003

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