Institutional Foundations of Nationalities Policies


The most important problems of the institutional shaping of nationalities policy in regions are its accompaniment, provision for delimitation of the executive power bodies’ functions, inter-agency interaction of these bodies and of the state power and local self-government bodies and NGOs’ efforts co-ordination.


The organizational foundation of policy towards minorities in regions has become establishment of proper structures of the executive power, inter-agency co-ordination of executive power bodies and co-ordination councils with participation of the state power bodies’ representatives, representatives of local self-government bodies and of ethnic cultural organizations.


In the greater part of regions there are the executive power structures that are entrusted with issues of nationalities policy. However their statuses may differ considerably.


Despite a great variety of forms acquitted by structures conducting issues of nationalities policy these forms may be reduced to three types: an agency with powers of a ministry, a department (or a directorate) of a regional administration (ministries for nationality policies, an administration’s department for nationalities’ policy); similar agency the functions of which are not confined exclusively to nationality policies (ministries of culture and for nationalities’ affairs, departments for public relations and regional and nationalities policy); a dependent subdivision (department/division of a ministry, division of a department/directorate of administration).


Lack of regional executive bodies structures authorized to perform and vested with elaboration and implementation of nationalities policy promotes for the poor co-ordination of the executive structures, hinders effective interaction with other branches of power, local self-government bodies and the “third sector”, decreases effectiveness of expenditure of and control over financial resources allocated for nationalities policy purposes (the lack of the single customer), and complicates implication of politics at the local level.


The problem of interaction of various executive bodies is one of the most painful problems. Some regions of the Federation try to solve it by creating either inter-agency commissions engaged exclusively in nationalities’ policy issues (Krasnodar, Volgograd regions, Moscow city) or narrowly specialized commissions (on problems of Russian-speaking population in Dagestan, implementation of the Federal purpose programme for the Russian Germans in Komi) or, on the contrary, commissions with extended powers (consultative councils in Perm and Saratov regions).


Perhaps, organization of interaction among different branches of power, interaction between executive bodies and local self-government bodies and between bodies of the state power and local self-government and ethnic cultural associations is the most difficult problem.


The problem is partially eliminated by creation of consultative councils under a head of the Federation’s region. These councils are known as Councils of nationalities. Such councils are active in republics of Buryatia and Udmurtia and Oreburg, Perm, Rostov, Tver and Tomsk regions. They allow minorities’ organizations to enjoy a direct communication channel to the territorial leadership. 8 (In Republic of Chuvashia similar Council for inter-ethnic cooperation has been established under the Chief of administration, in Moscow city and in Penza region such councils are established under the regional governments). Orenburg region where representatives of  executive and local self-government bodies, legislative and court powers and national minorities’ organizations are included in the Council on  nationalities’ affairs, the consultative body under the governor provides the most consistent and logically streamlined solution of the problem of coordination of state power and local self-government bodies and ethnic minorities organizations’ activities. It is of no small importance that the Council is entitled to submit its minorities-related proposals for consideration of the regional Legislative Assembly.


Authorities’ willingness to pursue nationalities policy, perform strict monitoring of the situation and prevent forthcoming challenges modifying its policies in accordance with changing situation is important. Many regions have come to understand necessity of the permanent monitoring of inter-ethnic relations. At the present time such monitoring is carried on in Udmurtia, Krasnodar, Stavropol, Astrakhan, Volgograd, Oreburg, Perm, Rostov, Samara, Saratov, Tomsk regions (it should be added that the monitoring in some regions was launched as early as in mid-1990s).


There is a growing awareness at the local level that the “fourth power" does not just reflect the public moods but also forms them. The executive power assigns ever increasing significance to coverage of inter-ethnic relations by media. This awareness reveals itself in different forms varying from direct “enforcement” of the authorities’ interpretation of events to monitoring of mass media (as it is done in Astrakhan, Volgograd, Orenburg, Tomsk regions). Virtually all recently adopted nationalities’ policy programs devote a greater attention to monitoring studies and interaction with mass media.


Talking about provision for minorities’ rights in regions one cannot but mention the institution of regional ombudsmen. In the greater part of the Federation’s regions ombudsmen work for several years and do not possess sufficient experience of provision for ethnic minorities’ rights. However there are wonderful working materials on establishment of network of ombudsman’s local proxies (Amur, Moscow region), ombudsman’s interaction with mass media, solution of specific issues related to violation of national minorities’ rights (Perm region).


*           *           *


Institutional foundations of regional nationalities’ policy have been assessed by the following characteristics: availability and status of special structures in the executive power bodies; availability of inter-agency coordination body of regional executive power; availability of a consultative body under a head of region; availability of regional ombudsman; performance of interethnic relations monitoring and mass media monitoring by the executive power structures.


The most impressive success has been achieved in Volgograd, Perm, Kransnodar, Stavropol, Orenburg, Samara, Saratov, Astrakhan regions, in republics of Komi and Chuvashia. At the same time even signs of nationalities policy institutional foundations creation are blatantly absent in some regions (Voronezh, Amur, Tula regions — See Appendix 1. Assessment of Comparative Effectiveness of the Russian Federation Regions’ Nationalities Policy).

8  Councils of similar profile were abolished:  in Astrakhan region in October, 2003, in Saratov region in December, 2002, in Stavropol region in June, 2002, in Kabardinian-Balkar Republic in February, 2004, in Republic of Komi in April, 2002.