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Second training in Yekaterinburg for leaders of ethnic associations and police officers

The Center for Interethnic Cooperation, along with its partners European Dialog (London) and Roma Ural (Yekaterinburg), arranged a training for leaders of ethnic associations and police officers in the hotel �Zelen� near Yekaterinburg, which took place between the 8th and 10th of July, 2004. During the preparation and the carrying out of the training, Marina Plyasunova, the main specialist of internal policies of the Sverdlovsk regional administration was a great help. She participated very actively in the work of the training. In addition to Marina, Grigoriy Vertigel, also from her department, took part in the training�s work (their surnames and positions, as well as those of the rest of the participants can be found on Roma Ural�s homepage, email [email protected] for information). It should also be mentioned that the main management staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) made great contributions to the training�s organization. Without their assistance, it would have been difficult to get invitations for the police officers who came over from Britain.

This was our second training in Yekaterinburg, held within the framework of the project �Ethnic minorities and Access to Justice,� which was financed by the European Community and the Global Opportunities Fund of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom. Just as at the first training, experts from Great Britain (Antony Cross, former leader of the Greenwich quarter police squad, and Makhan Bajwa, head of the Greenwich Council for Racial Equal) gave presentations. About one year ago in December, here in Yekaterinburg, the first modern Russian team training of police officers and leaders of ethnic associations was carried out. It was of course the most difficult one. Firstly, we didn�t know if we could avoid confrontation between the participants. Secondly, it was our first time working with our partners. Based on the results of the training, we had to introduce changes to the subject of discussion while the training was going on. Nevertheless we managed to find a successful solution. To our good fortune, it turned out that when they dealt with each other face-to-face, the representatives of these two groups behaved very tolerantly toward each other. The results of this first training can be found on the Center for Interethnic Cooperation�s website, www.interethnic.org. After the Yekaterinburg training, the trainer of our center carried out three more brilliant trainings along the same lines as the first, in Moscow, Samarra and Anapa. Especially successful was the training in Anapa, in which leaders of ethnic associations, police officers and law-enforcement agencies of the Krasnodar Territory took part (more details about the training can be found on the web through the link:

The most difficulty part of the second training in Yekaterinburg was that, besides demonstrating mutual tolerance and good intentions, we needed to figure out precise mechanisms of cooperation between the police and ethnic groups. This wasn�t a simple problem. At the first training in Yekaterinburg, policemen from Britain who worked directly with the population took part. On one hand, their participation was very important for us, since we thought that namely they, more than the rest of their colleagues, had negative attitudes toward members of ethnic minorities. However, these young guys didn�t impress the leaders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (in charge of all police business) of the Sverdlovsk region that much.

A typical detail is that at the first training, the police officers proposed to organize a pick up game of soccer between the police and the ethnic community staff. The Center for Interethnic Cooperation tried a few times to organize such a game, but it didn�t end up happening. To the second training we invited the leaders of several subdivisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Sverdlovsk region. Colonel Vladimir Nifontov in particular (the head of the regional migration services) worked very actively for the whole three days.

The majority of the police officers were participating in one of our trainings for the first time. For this reason our trainers Ashot Airapetjan and Victoria Shukat explained a few elements of the first training at the very beginning of the second. After that the participants were divided into pairs with one police officer and one leader of an ethnic association each. They spent 5 minutes getting to know each other, and afterwards they took turns introducing their partner to the rest of the participants. The presentations of the Yekaterinburg residents were much more, shall we say, peaceful than those in the city of Anapa, in the Krasnodar region, which is located much further to the south. The main result of the presentations was that people got to know each other and the awkwardness that people in an unfamiliar group normally experience was relieved. After that, Ivan Shushkevich, the head of the 10th department of the main personnel administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), gave an extensive presentation. He told us about experience of collaboration between the police and civil association in other countries in the world, about the results of the trainings carried out in Samarra, Moscow and Krosnodar and the readiness of the MIA of the Russian Federation to collaborate with the civilian population to reduce criminality and strengthen law and order in the country. In his turn, Ashot Airapetian, the director of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, talked about a few results of realizing projects in other cities. Since many of the officers hadn�t been present at the first training, Tony and Makhan repeated briefly the reports made during the first training. These short descriptions dealt with the work of the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality, and also with how the Council works with the local police district. As at the other trainings, the participants could interrupt the presentations at any time to ask questions. But Ashot asked the most questions of all - �How much does the average policeman in London get paid? Is the profession of policeman prestigious in London? Does the London population help in the solving of crimes?� and so on. We should mention that for the police officers and for the leaders of ethnic communities the stories of Tony and Makhan were extremely interesting. It�s a fact that in Great Britain the population interacts with the police most respectfully, and for one of our people this phenomenon is not that common. We, after all, like in the movie �Beware of the Car,� are used to the idea that we (that is, citizens) should run from them (the police), and that they try to catch us. It turns out that not every country has such relations with its law enforcement agencies.

After the participants had gotten to know each other and learned that cooperation between the police and ethnic associations in London helps to successfully lower the number of violations of the law, the trainers from the Center for Interethnic Cooperation asked them to determine what unities the police and ethnic minorities.

The results of the survey looked like this:

What unites us:

  • Defending human and civil rights and freedoms
  • The desire for a peaceful life
  • The need for mutual respect
  • Common cultural traditions
  • Common territory (Yekaterinburg)
  • The law
  • Defense of legal interests
  • A desire for the maintenance of law and order
  • Citizenship (nationals) in the Russian Federation
  • A feeling of being detached from the majority (negatively)
  • The desire for knowledge

In the evening of the first day a game of soccer was organized. Both the police officers and leaders of ethnic associations played. Can you guess who won? The policemen, with a score of 15 to 1! But actually, we had an Olympic principle - the most important thing was playing, not winning, so nobody got insulted or upset.

On the second day the participants were divided into three mixed groups and given the task of drawing their impressions of the first day on big sheets of paper. We use this technique very often, and the results are always great. The participants drew their impressions with great inspiration and then presented them to everyone else. It was funny to watch big men, half of whom were in police uniforms, enthusiastically drawing pictures with colored magic markers. Here it�s appropriate to remind that between the first and second trainings, the group from the administration, law enforcement agencies, and ethnic communities of Yekaterinburg and Samarra visited London. In London they met with members of Parliament, visited the Home Office, Scotland Yard, police departments in Greenwich, and other places as well. Three of the participants in the visit - Adam Kalayev, from a Chechen organization in Yekaterinburg, Aleksander, an instructor from the local Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Igor Krasavin from the organization Roma Ural took active part in the training. Naturally, Aleksander�s story was the most interesting. Firstly, as an instructor, he was able to speak eloquently and interestingly. Secondly, it was the story of a policeman. It was one thing, when the representatives of ethnic minorities talked about how great London was, and another when the storyteller is doubly �yours�: once- Russian, twice - a police officer. Aleksander exceeded the time limit twice over, but Ashot wasn�t able to stop him - the other participants wanted to hear him as much as they could.

After all the participants spoke, Marina Plyasunova said, �From all the different impressions, it would seem that we were all in different cities!� It was indeed surprising how differently we viewed each other and the very same subjects. Maybe four days is very little to really see and understand London? It�s typical, that when Tony and Makhan spoke about the projects that the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality conducts with the police and with different organizations, the training participants heard about the achievements of the Mars landing, which are of course very significant, but which won�t have any practical application in the near future. To return the participants to our sinful soil, we decided to have an interactive game. Victoria divided them up into two groups, and the process of dividing was in itself like a little game. The participants were invited to climb across an �electric line,� which was a bunch of chairs placed in a row. The difficulty of the game was in the fact that it was necessary to do this while holding each other and without touching the chairs. The purpose of the game was to form a team out of the participants. It was very emotional, and no less important, very funny. The basic problem, which is not hard to guess, was to send the women across the �electric line.� We�ve played this game in various cities in Russia. But this time in Yekaterinburg, Yan Sokol, from a Gypsy organization, and Farukh Mirzoev, from Tadjikistan, found an original solution. First a few men simply threw Farukh to the other side of the �electric line,� then Farukh and Yan stood facing each other and connected their arms and shoulders. Then all the other participants were sent across the newly created �living bridge� to the other side. The game turned out to be so thrilling that Constantine Leviy from the Main Administration of Interior Affairs of the Sverdlovsk region, despite the fact that he was from the other team, decided to imperceptibly take advantage of the services of the �living bridge.� This wasn�t the only interactive game that was played at the training. Thanks to these games, we soon stopped paying attention to the fact that a few of us taking part in the training were in police uniform. As in all collectives, a few were more active, and a few watched and listened more. Vladimir Nifontov especially distinguished himself. Firstly, he actively took part in all discussions; secondly, he conducted himself as everyone else did, not at all emphasizing that he was the head person in the Sverdlovsk region in charge of migration questions. Finally, he took pictures of all the more or less interesting episodes at the training and graciously showed us all his photographs afterwards.

When this project was being created, its authors Girina Holland and Nicky Torode (both from London) had planned that one of the trainers would be assigned to train the leaders of ethnic associations in the defense of their rights. In particular, they thought they should learn to stand up against illegal actions of police officers. At that time Ashot Airapetian and Victoria Shukhat had to spend much effort showing our English partners that during trainings with the police and leaders of ethnic associations it�s necessary to concentrate on what unites these two groups of people. Of course, the leaders of ethnic associations should know Russian and international mechanisms for defending human and minority rights. But Russia is not a state based on the rule of law. Very often what is allowed and what isn�t is determined not by the law, but by a bureaucrat, who supervises the given course of action. When during our first training in Yekaterinburg, Victoria pronounced the phrase �a bureaucrat is also a person,� Maya Mikhailova, the head of the Department for work with the Public of the Administration of Yekaterinburg, nearly kissed her. Russia has existed as a state for many centuries and consequently, among bureaucrats there has always been and always will be honest people devoted to their work. It is very hard work for little salary, from morning until evening, dealing with at times large amounts of money and staying honest. But such people both in the regional authorities and the police are many. Consequently, first-hand contact, and even more, constant cooperation with them is not only possible, but is also very useful. Even in Great Britain, where the law has priority before all the country�s citizens, independent of their position, the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality established close relations with the local police offices and was able to use these contacts. Therefore, the main goal of our project was and remains the establishment of mechanism of interaction between the police and ethnic communities. On the other hand, the participants of the second training in Yekaterinburg, when asked to determine �What unites us,� all wrote as one of the points �The defense of human and civil rights.� What a fabulous result! It meant that the rights-defending theme could not divide the participants of this training into different camps. Proceeding from this, Ashot Airapetian asked the participants to explain how they understand �the defense of human rights.� He divided the participants into 5 groups. Two groups consisted only of leaders of ethnic associations; in the third group were gathered employees of the Main Administration of Internal Affairs; in the fourth were policeman, instructors from the local police academy; and in the fifth were representatives of the local administration. Each group was given the task to answer the following questions:

  • What are human rights?
  • Who do human rights exist for?
  • What are the three most important human rights?

We received the following answers:

Group __

  • Human rights are freedoms and guarantees secured by the law (by normative acts)
  • Human rights exist for the free realization of their requirements in the established legal context.
  • The right to life, the right to freedom, the right to a worthy existence

Group __

  • The desire to look after the interests of all members of society.
  • They exist for the regulation of relations between people, both citizens of society and of the state.
    • the right to life and freedom
    • the right to property

Group ___

  • The aggregate of norms that determine the protectability of a person as an individual and a citizen.
  • Human rights are a basis for interaction
  • The rights to:
    1. life
    2. freedom
    3. equality

Group ___

  • A system of obligatory norms of the regulators in society and of guarantees by the state.
  • In order that society is not in chaos
  • The right to life, the right to work, the right to freedom of will

Group ___

  • Social possibilities, the realization of which is taken upon itself by the satisfaction of legal interests and requirements (a social good):
    • Possibilities,
    • mechanisms for the realization of rights,
    • the receipt of the good (achievement of the goal)
  • They exist for:
    • equal rights for all people in society
    • for the creation of states based on the rule of law
    • for the fulfillment of duties, as they are united together
    • the security of the worthy development and existence of the person
    • the right to life
    • the right to defense
    • the right to peace

Analysis of the answers shows that all the groups about the same understand the meaning of �Human Rights.� They are so similar, that, based on the texts it is hard to determine which group wrote this or that variant. From these results it follows that the police know about human rights and understand what they are for no worse than that leaders of ethnic communities. Consequently, the violation of human rights on the part of the police happens not because the police officers do not know about the existence of these rights. Its simply, as has already been noticed, we all have our own interpretation of the law. This touches on not only the police, but also all of society as a whole, and, to a large degree, ethnic minorities. Another result of the survey was that all the groups, when listing the �three most important human rights,� wrote the same general words as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights determines them most concretely. The culmination of the work of the second day was the working out of project ideas for the creation of actually functioning mechanisms for the interaction of the police and ethnic minorities. Here it is necessary to add that in the context of the project �Ethnic minorities and Access to Justice,� it is planned to announce in the Sverdlovsk region a contest of microprojects devoted to the cooperation of ethnic minorities and the police. More detailed information about the contest can be read on our website. So the formulation of the project ideas did not only have a theoretical meaning. For this reason it was suggested that the participants propose ideas that could be realized in half a year, and that didn�t require a large amount of financing. For the development of project ideas, the participants were divided into three mixed groups. After 20 minutes the temporary groups presented the results of their work.

The results looked like this:

Variant 1
  • The creation of a law website called �Migration�
  • The creation of a print publication �Prevention�
  • An informational-reference booklet for migrants
  • The creation of a �Center for Legal Consulting� (a fund) on the rights of the legal person
    Founder: the city, the region, ethnic organizations
    Agreement with the Main Administration of Internal Affairs of the Sverdlovsk region and the Government of the Sverdlovsk region

Variant 2

    The creation of an center called �The improvement of conditions� for the years 2005-2007, to be involved in the following occupations:
    1. the organization of activities
    2. prevention of the violation of the rights of ethnic minorities on the part of members of law-enforcement agencies
    3. the promotion of the rightful cultures of ethnic minorities
    4. the prevention of rights violations on the part of members of ethnic minorities (volunteer popular brigades)
    5. the creation of conditions for the supporting of cultures and institutions of traditions of ethnicities
    6. assistance on the part of members of NGO�s in the prevention and solving of crimes
    7. the security of equal possibilities in job placement and acceptance to education institutions
    8. social rehabilitation of migrants and refugees

    Variant 3
    • To introduce informational material to the educational curriculum of the Ural Institute of Law of the Russian Ministry of Interior Affairs
    • The preparation of consultation
    • An information center

      After the presentation of the project ideas, the participants were given the task of evaluating all the project ideas on a five-point scale. The following project ideas received the most points:

      Project ideas - winners

      • To introduce information about the activities of ethnic NGO�s into a course of the Ural Institute of Law of the Russian Ministry of Interior Affairs
      • The creation of a legal website �Migration�
      • The creation of informational booklets for migrants

      And so concluded the second day. It was the last day of the training for the police officers. However they had time to sample shashliki (shish kebobs) that Mikhail Mnoyan from the Armenian organization and Farukh Mirzoev had prepared for the participants. In the hotel �Selen� there was even a special place for the preparation of shashliki. The weather stayed nice, and the shashliki turned out excellently. We sang songs together. The evening was a great success!

      On the third day only the leaders of the ethnic associations and the representatives of the local authorities were supposed to participate. On this day the leaders of ethnic associations were supposed to discuss ways to convert the project ideas into real projects. According to the rules of the microproject contest, police officers could not be direct recipients of the grants. They could, however, be consultants or advisors to the projects. Vladimir Nifonov was a wonderful consultant on the third day of the training. The leader of the migration services of the Sverdlovsk region not only took part on the third day of the training, but also made a series of very valuable suggestions. No less active was the participation of Marina Plyazunova. On her suggestion the participants began to discuss the possibility of signing a trilateral agreement between the regional administration, ethnic associations, and the Sverdlovsk Region Main Administration of Internal Affairs. For the development of the text of the address to the governor with the corresponding suggestion, the participants divided into three groups. After 15 minutes the groups reported on their results. Then each of the participants expressed his or her position on the weak or strong points of the text of the address. Next we faced the most difficult problem - to choose on text out of the three, considering all the useful remarks and add-ins that were discussed. After a persistent half-hour�s work, we got the following result.

      The text of the address from the leaders of ethnic associations to the Governor of the Sverdlovsk region and the Head of the Main Administration of Internal Affairs.

      With the goal of ensuring social order in the territory of the Sverdlovsk region, continuing the struggle with criminality, observing of the rights and freedoms of the population, and developing mutual understanding between the executive authorities, law-enforcement agencies, and ethnic-cultural associations of the Sverdlovsk region, the participants of the seminar �Interaction between Ethnic Associations and the Police� feel that it is necessary and advisable to complete an agreement on cooperation between the Government of the Sverdlovsk region, the Sverdlovsk Regional Main Administration of Interior Affairs, and representatives of ethnic associations - members of the Consultative council.
      The project agreement is attached.

      Here we decided not to publish the text of the project agreement, since after the training the procedure of its adoption began, and a series of changes were introduced to the text in the process. We hope that this text will be signed, and in the history of contemporary Russia there will be created a precedent for the direct cooperation between the police, the administration, and ethnic associations will be set. Then we will publish the text corresponding to the agreement with great satisfaction.

      For the remaining portion of the training, Victoria Shukhat talked about how projects are written, from what constituent parts they are formed, to what should be paid a lot of attention, etc.

      Thus the training concluded. Both the organizers and the participants were satisfied with the results. One of the criteria of successfully run trainings is a good attitude on the part of the participants toward the trainers. Yekaterinburg was no exception. There were already many warm and friendly wishes, but Victor Nifontov suggested that we also organize an excursion to the statue that stands right on the border between Europe and Asia after the training. We, of course, agreed with pleasure, and not only because we hoped to establish good relations with the police officers. One of the delights of our work is that in various corners of Russia we periodically find interesting and nice people, with whom it is possible to not only successfully work, but also to befriend. This is simply marvelous!


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