Comparative Analysis of Regions’ Nationalities Policy Efficiency

The positive experience of ethnic policy conduct in regions is impressive: there are wonderfully elaborated projects of legal basis for the nationalities policy, for its instrumental, institutional and financial provision. A rich experience of provision for interaction of executive power structures, their constructive cooperation with organizations of “the third sector” has been accumulated.

Weak points of the nationalities policies remain to be the declarative nature of laws and other normative acts, insufficient interaction of executive power bodies with the legislative power, weak coordination of activities of all branches of regional power with local self-government bodies and organizations of national minorities. Inadequacy of funding, its instability and lack of its transparency are felt everywhere.

The most vulnerable link of ethnic minorities’ policy is its implementation: it seems that elaboration of programs in some cases becomes a self-sufficing task while inadequate attention is paid to their improvement, monitoring, institutional and financial provision. Stability and predictability of nationalities policy cannot be guaranteed even in the more “advanced” regions.

The most impressive achievements have been attained in regions that headed for constructive cooperation with national and ethnic minorities (please see Appendix “Assessment of comparative effectiveness of the Russian Federation constituent parts’ policy towards ethnic minorities”).

As a rule, regions that head for such cooperation are economically strong regions with stable liberal traditions, the developed “third sector”, established cooperation of executive and legislative power.

Nationalities policy is less elaborated in regions that have opted for policy of estrangement and alienation and where authorities assume that the very statement of nationalities problems causes inter-ethnic tensions.

The nationalities policy of regions that determine the profile of the Federal nationalities policy (Tatarstan, Bashkiria, Moscow region and Moscow city) is quite unimpressive due to peculiarities of decision making procedures, closed character of their budgets and inconsistency. Achievements of Moscow city are results of considerable funds assigned for these purposes, but the effectiveness of these funds spending is very doubtful.

It is exceptionally important to emphasize that efficiency of regional nationalities policy is determined by coupling (balanced character of their development) of each of its components: normative and legal basis, programs of nationalities policy implementation; institutional foundations of its conduct; its financial basis.

Failures in development of individual components are the factor that limits implementation of regional nationalities policy:

Due to this reason efficiency of nationalities policy is low in regions that have wonderful practical projects in spheres of program, institutional and financial provision but do not pay proper attention to the legal basis of nationalities policy as, for example, in Moscow, Astrakhan region, Bashkiria. (It’s similar to “Liebich law” that in biology limits a plant’s growth by the minimum factor). The regions mentioned above undertake considerable efforts aimed at development of potential of policy towards minorities (according index of nationalities policy’s infrastructure development these regions occupy the 7th, 11th and 16th positions respectively — see Appendix). Nevertheless they have a low rating of the nationalities policy efficiency.

Efficiency of regional nationalities policy is determined by efforts all principal actors (various branches of state power, local self-government bodies and NGOs) devote to elaboration and implementation of nationalities policy. An efficient regional nationalities policy suggests coordination of efforts undertaken by regional bodies of state power and local self-government including delegation of powers and finance to the bottom level. Building of an “interaction vertical” by creation of local subdivisions, elaboration of plans of activities at the local self-government bodies’ level have demonstrated their efficiency in some regions (Republic of Komi, Perm region etc.).

Transparency of all components of nationalities policy (in particular, procedures of decision making and spending of financial means) acquires the most important significance for efficient nationalities policy.

The experience of conduct and continuity of nationalities policy (in respect of elaboration of interests concurrence and decision making procedures) are of great significance. Regions that initiated this process in early 1990s (Perm, Komi, Samara, Saratov, Orenbourg regions) nowadays are the regions with the most advanced nationalities policy. The high rating of some of them, as, for example, Republic of Komi, is maintained by previous achievements that allow these regions to distinguish themselves against the general background despite an obvious weakening of attention these region pay to the nationalities policy.

Resolution of authorities to carry on constructive nationalities policy, monitor situation and suppress incoming challenges and form the appropriate public opinion at the same time acquires no small significance. Achievements Volgograd and Stavropol regions attained in the recent years are in glaring contrast with failures of policy in Voronezh and Tula regions though just a few years ago all four regions occupied similar initial positions.

Unfortunately, the line aimed at the constructive nationalities policy in regions has not become irreversible. Inconsistency of policy aggravated by reverses (repudiation of transparency in decision making, erosion of functions and elimination of structures responsible for implementation of nationalities policy, repudiation of transparency of funding, deterioration of financial discipline etc) is typical for many constituent parts of the Russian Federation. In some degree these trends are characteristic for Tatarstan, Komi, Stavropol, Astrakan, Moscow, Orenbourg, Nizhni Novgorod, Sverdlovsk regions.

Enormous positive experience of nationalities policy implementation (in particular, experience of elaboration of instruments and mechanisms of implementation) has been accumulated in regions. The funding of nationalities policy remains to be the stumbling block while insufficient transparency of financial flows remains to be Achilles heel of regional nationalities policy: of 29 regions that are considered here nationalities policy is either separated as a specific line of a budget or the funding earmarked for nationalities policy measures in a budget is tracked only in 9 regions (Buryatia, Komi, Udmurtia, Stavropol region, Moscow city, Perm, Samara, Tver, Tomsk regions). One may speak of a partial transparency in 2 regions (Tataria, Moscow region). At the same time Orenbourg region since 2001 renounced “nationalities policy” line in its budget. In 2003 Sverdlovsk region, for the first time in a long succession of years, abolished a separate line funding of the key program.

Summing up one may try to outline an ideal model of regional ethnic policy. We think that such model includes:

It should be said that there are regions that already approach this ideal model.