The nationalist “illness” is far advanced in Russia. But this does not mean that it is incurable or that it cannot be minimized. We should learn from the Russian Empire and particularly from the Soviet Union, which offer many positive examples and some negative ones too.
Not long ago, President Vladimir Putin signed an order establishing the Presidential Council on Interethnic Relations, designed to facilitate interaction between the authorities, constituent entities of the Russian Federation, local governments and various organizations involved in matters of interethnic relations. This problem has now come to a head. But will the new council help to cure one of Russia’s greatest ills? What are the main challenges it faces today?
Sharing his views with the website of the International Valdai Club is Prof. Vitaly Tretyakov of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Editor-in-Chief, Politicheskiy Klass journal; General Director, Independent Publishing Group.
What do you think about the idea of creating the Presidential Council on Interethnic Relations?
I am critical of it in general, because there are other organizations whose mission is to develop strategies and policies in the sphere of interethnic relations. I mean the State Duma and, in particular, the Federation Council, which should handle the public part of this business. As for the clandestine part (and surely there is one), this is up to the Presidential Security Council.
Do you share Igor Yurgens ’ view that a new Ministry for Ethnic Affairs should be established and provided, unlike its predecessor, with both money and powers, to say nothing about competent staff?
He is not the only person, nor the first one, to speak about the need to revive the Ministry for Ethnic Affairs. I, for one, have repeatedly urged the same. But before this is done, we should develop the strategy itself by the method I described in my answer to your previous question.
What do you think was the purpose of creating the council?
There is no doubt that the council is needed in order to reassure the public. It can have no other function by definition.
Is the nationalist “illness” in Russia at an advanced stage? Whose experience should we rely on to deal with this problem?
The nationalist “illness” is far advanced in this country. But this does not mean that it is incurable or that it cannot be minimized.
As to whose experience to learn from, there is only one answer to your question and it would seem odd were it any different: we should learn from the Russian Empire and particularly from the Soviet Union, which offer many positive examples and some negative ones too.
When will the Russian Federation’s new Strategy for State Ethnic Policy be drafted and approved? Should it emphasize the special status of ethnic Russians as the core ethnicity or will this alienate other ethnic communities?
I don’t know when this strategy is going to be drafted, naturally. My guess is that Putin would like to unveil it no later than the middle of his presidential term.
The Russian question is the most important, fundamental issue of this strategy. If it fails to mention the Russian question, or mentions it just in passing for propriety’s sake, this document can safely be shelved immediately.