Caucasus being integrated into Russian socio-political context
The Moscow interdistrict situation center of presidential representatives in the federal districts hosted the first meeting of the Moscow Caucasian Club, designed to become an effective public-advisory platform bringing together representatives of public authorities, ethnic organizations and the expert community. It is planned to create a communication platform on the basis of the Moscow Caucasus Club for living and/or working in the capital of the authoritative representatives of the regions of the North Caucasus Federal District who are interested in quality implementation of the tasks set for the club. Among the main activities of the participants of the meeting were also marked organization and coordination of the activities of public organizations of immigrants from the North Caucasus, primarily youth; the formation of a common pool of experts of the federal and regional levels; the organization and participation in cultural, educational and youth activities on the territory of the Moscow region. The initiator of the formation of the club became the autonomous non-profit organization ‘Center for Contemporary Caucasian Policy’ (CCCP ‘Caucasus’) with the support of the apparatus of the presidential envoy in the North Caucasus Federal District, Sergei Melikov.
Addressing the audience at the meeting, Melikov said: "Today the future of this initiative depends on you. I hope that the outcome of the discussion will be that everyone present in the hall will have formed and formulated a position on the issue. Some of the things we discussed yesterday at an informal meeting with our colleagues, members of the State Duma from the North Caucasian subjects – the republics and Stavropol Territory ... When the idea of creating the Moscow Caucasus Club emerged, we were in the same format, but today, unfortunately, we have a different format, when yesterday's speech of the Supreme Commander declared an uncompromising stance in the fight against international terrorism. Russia has always been in these positions, but what has happened in the world over the past few weeks has once again strengthened us in understanding that terrorism is a universal evil, and we'd have to fight in any format. This idea is today the priority for the security for you and me, our fellow citizens, our country and the world."
According to Melikov, "This position was voiced by the Supreme Commander at the meeting, and before, such as at the meeting of the UN General Assembly and the summit in the G20 format, and today we must adhere to these objectives. The events of recent weeks have once again convinced us of the need to realize the project which today will be presented to your attention. In fact, its main objective is to reduce conflicts between peoples of different cultures, traditions, the very contradictions that, unfortunately, sometimes become a breeding ground for nurturing radicalism, and support the actions of destructive forces, not only in our country, but around the world.The international situation and external threats, the actual situation in the country oblige us to act quickly, without wasting time on various kinds of tie-dye roadmaps running off some conceptual, long-term plans."
According to the envoy, ‘’due to the prevalence of stereotypes and one-sided presentation of information, the North Caucasus still remains terra incognita for many people in our country. But it's not even the worst perception of our Caucasus. Unfortunately, in the country there are those who believe that the subjects of the North Caucasian Federal District today are something like the American Wild West. A lawless territory, where the laws of the strongest dominate. Of course, it is not that way. In recent years, with the active participation of the federal government, the Federation Council, State Duma deputies and other members of the processes occurring in the Caucasus, the regions of the country have stepped far forward, overcoming a significant gulf in political, social and economic development that was separating the North Caucasus from other Russian regions
At the same time, we do not deny a certain backwardness of our regions, due to the fact that in the 1990s and early 2000s they were the front-line or front-line area, as well as the fact that since the inclusion of this region into the Russian Empire, the North Caucasus was constantly the center of attention of influential foreign governments trying to foment social and political instability in the region and snatch it from Russia. Existing difficulties were accepted objectively by the federal government, which resulted in the decision to establish a new North Caucasus Federal District in 2010. In the same period, to overcome the gap in the socio-economic development of the territory, the Russian Federation Government approved the 'Strategy of Socio-Economic Development of the North Caucasus Federal District until 2025', which was developed as part of the federal target program 'South of Russia' and a number of other regulatory documents."
However, according to Melikov, the problems that the North Caucasus faced since the late 1980's to the early 2000s, affected not only the economic and social spheres, they left deep traces in the social and political life, education, culture, environmental policy matters, religion, in the information space. So today the Plenipotentiary Presidential Envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District does not only control the implementation of decrees, orders, orders of the head of state, but also a whole range of related issues, the main one of which is the establishment and maintenance of effective dialogue in civic society.
The main platform for dialogue is the North Caucasus Federal District Public Council. Today the second council is working, which combines both regional and federal social activists and experts.The expert sees great potential in the conjunction of social initiatives: "One such example is the North Caucasus Civil Forum ‘Arkhyz-21’, which has been running for two years in Karachay-Cherkessia."
To demonstrate the effectiveness of such projects, I allow myself to dwell on one point relating to the second forum, which was held this year on July 9-11. Present here Sultan Hamzaev and Sultan Togonidze updated a topic common in the North Caucasus – the pharmacy addiction problem. We must admit that it is very acute in the region, but, frankly, not only in the Caucasus. And due to various, including subjective delays, the problem was not tackled for a long time. The wide, public debate on this issue, the position of experts, the involvement of non-core organs of the government in its decision became a prerequisite that from October 1st several psychotropic drugs previously quietly sold in all pharmacies and on fairly simple prescriptions, have been added to the list of drugs that must be accounted. This substantially limits the possibility of illegal sales, increases accountability measures for those responsible. It is noteworthy that the initiators of this process are representatives of the youth."
Melikov said that young people in the North Caucasus need a special approach: "It is no secret that our regions are leaders in the number of persons under the age of 30 years. The North Caucasus today is the youngest territory, and to direct the energy and aspirations of the younger generation onto a constructive track requires a lot of work, some of which is already under way. It is about the functioning of the council on youth policy at the embassy, and the creation of common district volunteerism, and the whole complex of youth projects supported both at the district and at the federal level. Particular attention in this regard is paid to the North Caucasus Youth Forum ‘Mashuk’, the history of which goes back six years. In addition to being an outstanding event in the life of the district, which is attended by young people of our regions, well-known politicians, actors, athletes, musicians, it is also the site of a competition of youth projects.
By 2015 up to 100 million rubles had been allocated to these purposes. This year the total amount of funds for certain reasons was reduced to 85 million rubles. We also revised the approach to the amounts of grants themselves, increasing them. This year, their size for individuals was 300, 400, 500 thousand rubles, and for public bodies to 2.5 million. In our view, this measure has improved the efficiency of design work, contributed to the formation of action teams, increased responsibility for its social commitment from the winners. In turn, the Mashuk itself is a generator of new projects such as common district "Summer Lightning", "Caucasian Donor", the League of KVN of the Caucasus, the bicycle festival. This year a project for the installation of our regional professional outdoor workout areas for independent physical exercise was launched."
Meanwhile, according to the envoy, "in the information century it is not enough to do something good, it is necessary also to speak. Not to brag, of course, but to disseminate objective information on the processes taking place in the North Caucasus.’' There are also problems in this direction, in the area. The Information Society has been disconnected. Each region stews in its own juice. Reliable information in the media about life in neighboring subjects is not always checked. The information risks were worked out by the media community of the region alone, without proper interaction with colleagues from neighboring countries.
Things began to change when the initiative of the plenipotentiary representative in consultation with the management of the Russian president's domestic policy resulted in an extra structure – the Centre for Contemporary Caucasus Policy (CCCP) ‘Caucasus’ was created. It was this organization that took over the function of building a common information field and building horizontal links in the media environment of our republics. This work resulted in the appearance of the annual Forum of the Media of the North Caucasus, which this year will take place, presumably, on December 10-11 in Pyatigorsk, and the Media Association of the North Caucasus Federal District. "
Particular importance in the North Caucasus Federal District is placed on the work in the field of ethno-confessional relations, enhancing the level of culture and education, but according to Melikov, "these results can be suddenly levelled by some resonant case involving the misconduct of natives of the North Caucasus somewhere in Moscow. All the good that is being done today in the Caucasus, all the efforts aimed at today's objective and honest information about the Caucasus, may be undermined and ruined by the behavior of some individuals or groups on the territory of our city. And I understand that all of us, each of us can lead by a dozen similar examples."
The plenipotentiary representative to the NCFD believes that "one of the problem areas was the interaction of the people from the Caucasus region in a city with a large population. Conflicts often arise from national, religious or criminal positions. They acquire a bunch of non-existent details, get false media coverage that certainly does not contribute to the integration of Caucasus people into the Russian socio-political context, but on the contrary, promotes xenophobia and hatred. In view of the recent events in Syria the degree of emotion around the theme of Islam has increased. It is easy to explain the increased interest of various forces in inflating incidents involving residents of the North Caucasus to the extent of high-grade ethnic or religious conflicts. We realize that in such cliches as ‘Russia is fighting against Islam’ the key word is ‘Islam’, and ‘Stop feeding the Caucasus’, certainly, came from the pen of one author, and have the same goal – to drive a wedge between Russia and the North Caucasus. These estimates are given by the biased experts and paid far from the territory of the Russian Federation."
According to Melikov, "the center of our country is the leader in the number of people who came from the North Caucasus republics, living, studying, working here on a temporary or permanent basis. Incidents involving them occurring here not only cause a great stir in Moscow, but in Russia as a whole. Hence, there is a distorted view of the regions of the country. However, the government, including agencies, departments of the regional governments of the North Caucasus republics, acting in Moscow, do not always have complete information about the daily life and problems of citizens who have arrived here from the subjects of the North Caucasus Federal District. And the communities, national and cultural organizations of experts have such information, and it must be used. We are now gathered to share this information. Based on the need for harmonization of interethnic relations and reducing ethnic crime, the establishment of good neighborly relations, we have invited to this table the authorities, including the system authorities, ministries, experts, residents of Moscow and the Moscow region, representing the North Caucasian community. I am sure that in the present conditions the coordination of our joint efforts will have a serious affect not only on the prevention of ethnic and religious-making problems in the capital, but will also have a positive impact on the atmosphere around the North Caucasus in the information field."