I  N  T  E  R  E  T  H  N  I  C
News archive of Center for Interethnic Cooperation
Back to the archive of CIC

Path to Resolving Ethnic Conflicts

A round-table meeting on the theme of �How to Resolve Conflicts and Build Tolerance� was carried out in the press center �RIA Novosti�. In the course of the meeting, a similar teaching aid was presented on social and ethnic conflictology, written by Larisa Ruban, doctor of sociology and founder of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau.

The book outlines a complete series of lectures, practicum, seminars, trainings, role games, and a broad comparative analysis of domestic and foreign conflictological concepts and practical developments.

Larisa Ruban noted in her presentation that twenty years of material from the implementation of a program under the name of �Youth in poly-ethnic regions: views, positions, orientations� were in the book. This program, running from 1988 to the present, is carried out in nine regions of Russia among schoolchildren.

"Schools were chosen as a setting for the program because that is exactly where the formation of people begins, and we need to understand what to do to teach children to resolve conflicts without the application of violence,� remarked L. Ruban.

Many years of examinations allowed the author to isolate several results: since 2000, the growth of the idea of all of Russia as one�s native land (in contrast to the adherence to one�s �home town� in the 90s) and the simultaneous increase in the tendencies towards compulsive actions for the protection of one�s native land (�hit non-Russians, fight, etc.)

"Basically, schoolchildren have quite a high level of tolerance. In effect, there were no cases where someone would refuse to sit at a desk with another student because of his nationality. The main thing is that this positive influence would extend beyond the school limits�, Ruban underlined.

The director of the Moscow Human Rights Bureau (MHRB), Aleksandr Brod, remarked that Ruban�s book is�more than just a teaching aid. This mini-encyclopedia of tolerance is essential for educators, representatives of law-enforcement agencies and journalists.�

He also said that the book �How to resolve conflicts and build tolerance� was presented by the Moscow Human Rights Bureau at the Ministry of Internal Affairs� Law School and was well received by the students. Taking into account that the book interested the European Commission, a larger volume of copies will be reprinted.

Brod also underlined that Larisa Ruban�s book, like other MHRB publications, is in opposition to the wave of brown literature which Russian national-radicals publish, which preaches xenophobia, racism and nationalism, up to twenty book s a year.

"An entire industry has grown, which hypothesizes these ideas and, of course, the researchers of democratic directivity lose to this brown wave�, noted the director of MHRB.

Brod noted that currently, whole stacks of similar literature are confiscated from skinheads, and books of a similar sort have lead to an attack on a synagogue on B.Bronnoj A.Koptseva.

He cited data from a study by the Levada Center last July, according to which forty-one percent of Russians answered "yes" to a question of whether there were more displays of nationalism in the country. Also, data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs states that 150 extremist groups with approximately 10 000 participants exist in Russia.

According to monitoring by MHRB for the first half of 2007, about 120 attacks and conflicts on xenophobic grounds have taken place in Russia, which resulted in between thirty-five and 150 victims, almost twice exceeding corresponding figures for the first half of 2006.

The big problem, in A.Brod's words, is that although high government officials continue to actively participate in anti-xenophobic speeches, at middle and lower levels there is still a tendency to involve nationalists, and their violent actions and "hooliganism" is maintained (however, here again positive examples do exist: authorities of the city of Krasnoarmeysk in the Saratov area, operating together with national diasporas, have not permitted nationalists to create an organization in the city of "new Kondopoga")

The absence of a united program for opposing xenophobia stands in the way of reducing the aforementioned numbers, as does the passiveness of many public organizations. One such program for the propagation of tolerance under the Federal Goals Program was closed in 2005, which in the opinion of the director of the MHRB should be opened again.

Aleksandr Brod expressed hope that the Commission of the Public Chamber�s actions will continue to act on the issues of tolerance and freedom of conscience, and previously published recommendations on the fight against xenophobia will aid in the attempts to coordinate the actions of public organizations.

The director of MHRB also focused his attention on the danger that parties (especially in regions) will use xenophobic rhetoric during state Duma election campaigns.

He drew special attention to the newly formed block �Native Land - Patriots of Russia�, which Deputy of the state Duma and racist A. Savelyev in particular entered. In connection with this, he emphasized the need for election campaigns to be monitored by public organizations (this project exists as part of MHRB) and he noted that the Ruban�s book will be useful in this work.

The president of the Russian Federal National-Cultural Azerbaijani Organization Soyun Sadykov pointed out that Ruban actually carried out the work that should have been fulfilled by the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs.

He also stated that last year in Moscow attention was drawn to cases of xenophobic moods among students in relating to their classmates; both from the sides of �Slavs� and �Caucasians� (people from the Caucasus). He underlined that interethnic conflict can be effectively prevented at that moment when the law is working form the top down.

Legal advisor for the MHRB and Center of Extreme Journalism Boris Panteleyev, after remembering that at the end of the 1980s, incompetence of high officials actually led to a flash in interethnic conflicts, expressed his hope that after the emergence of Ruban�s book, their ignorance of this topic will not stand in the way of action.

"For those who serve the government there must be training courses and recorded ethical codes. If an official permits some sort of xenophobic statement, society must act�, underlined Panteleyev.

As far as the fight against xenophobia is concerned, according to the expert, a legislative base for it already exists and only political will for its application is necessary.

Source: Federation of Russian Jewish Societies

� 1993-2003

If you have some interesting information about interethnic
situation in your region or about activity
of your organisation, we would be glad to
post it on our website
[email protected]