Vladimir Zorin: "Russia's presidential candidates should be guided by National Policy Strategy"

 Vladimir Zorin: "Russia's presidential candidates should be guided by National Policy Strategy"

Yesterday, Lomonosov Moscow State University held a panel discussion about consolidating and advancing the practical experience of the Moscow diasporas in strengthening interethnic cooperation in Russia's capital and forming the image of an inhabitant of Moscow. On the sidelines of this event, Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with the deputy chairman of the Council for Nationalities under the Government of Moscow, member of the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations, Deputy Director of the Institute for Ethnology and Anthropology of the RAS, Vladimir Zorin, who oversaw the national policy in the early 2000s.

- Vladimir Yurievich, can diaspora strengthen interethnic relations in the Russian capital today?

- We said at the panel discussion that not all representatives of the peoples inhabiting our country like the word "diaspora". But this word was mentioned without any negative connotation, but in a good sense. I think it's not about terms or relations between the host population and the visiting population, regardless of whether they are representatives of the peoples living in our country or come from abroad. For example, the Azerbaijanis are representatives of another state, but we lived together for several hundred years. 660 thousand Russian citizens are ethnic Azerbaijanis. A very good idea was expressed that we should not be too obsessed with definitions, but rather deal with the substance of the matter to strengthen friendship, harmony, mutual assistance, and co-operation among the peoples inhabiting our country.

- On December 19, 2012, the Russian president approved the Russian National Policy Strategy through to 2025. How does it work?

- We are on the edge of the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the National Policy Strategy. We can already draw preliminary results and discuss the new accents that have arisen in the implementation of this document over the past two years. They were due to the Crimean consensus, post-Crimean consensus, an information attack, which is being conducted against our country, as well as sanctions. A whole set of events shows that today we also have new accents in the implementation of the national policy. But the main thing remains unchanged. Traditionally, the Russian state retained all the peoples that were in the area of its responsibility, regardless of whether they came themselves or as a result of some conflicts or campaigns. Our state has never conducted any forced assimilation. We did not participate in religious wars. Today we continue relying on these basic values, realizing that new challenges are emerging.

- Do you mean external challenges?

- It's not just that. Challenges can be also internal - the socio-economic situation, the desire to blame their economic difficulties on migrants, domestic ethnocultural illiteracy and household xenophobia. We can see all this in our country. There are separate events that always become the backdrop for possible ethnic mobilization. These are a 2020 population census in our country and elections. The presidential elections will be held in March 2018. This September, a single day of voting on the national and migration topics, state-religious relations was held very correctly. I would like this trend to be observed at the presidential elections in Russia as well. There are already certain candidates with very confused positions on the national issue. I would like to advise all candidates to be guided by the National Policy Strategy, because it is a document of public consent, a doctrinal document of our state national policy.

- How can the population census negatively affect interethnic relations?

- I want to remind you that during the 2002 and 2010 censuses some political forces wanted to play a political card, advising people to "register as a Tatar", "register as a Circassian", "register as a Siberian". I hope that our public organizations and political forces will do everything possible to ensure that despite the voluntary nature of the census, all people come and name their nationality so that the state can consider their interests when planning our future.

- Are any areas of tension possible?

- Today we have the mechanism of ethno-confessional monitoring, by which we will be able to identify areas of tension in time and resolve a difficult situation when it occurs.

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