March 31, 2016, marks one year since the creation of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs, pursuant to a Presidential Executive Order. On March 17, 2016, the first Board meeting of the Federal Agency was held to review its work in 2015 and set targets for 2016.
In his address at the meeting, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Magomedsalam Magomedov said the President’s decision to set up a separate federal executive agency responsible for the development and implementation of the state ethnic policy and for the state of interethnic relations was expected and well-prepared. This decision made it possible to act on numerous suggestions made by representatives of the regions, State Duma deputies, Federation Council members, experts and civil society institutions. The Executive Order was preceded by strategic system-wide resolutions in the national ethnic policy.
A special consultative body – the Council on Interethnic Relations – has been operating under the President’s aegis since 2012. Also in 2012, the President of Russia approved the National Interethnic Policy Strategy. A Federal Targeted Programme was adopted to strengthen the unity of the Russian nation and develop the ethnic cultures of Russia for 2014–2020. Since 2013, the Presidential Executive Office has been making significant efforts to improve the multilevel system of state governance of interethnic relations.
Mr Magomedov stressed that overall the national strategy, presidential resolutions and systematic measures at the federal, regional and local levels regarding interethnic and migration policies have already led to an improvement in the general wellbeing of the population in terms of interethnic relations.
Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs Igor Barinov reported on the Agency’s activities in 2015 and set the main targets for 2016.
Having given an overall positive assessment of the Agency’s performance, Mr Magomedov spoke of the need to enhance its role in implementing the national ethnic policy. The official called for greater efficiency in cooperation between the authorities and civil society institutions in interethnic relations and spoke of the need to prevent any destabilisation of the social and political situation in the country on the basis of the ethnic factor, particularly in an election year.
Mr Magomedov said the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs should heavily rely in its work on a system of conflict monitoring and early prevention, which should be in operation in every region and municipality.
In conclusion, the Deputy Chief of Staff said, “We can see a good level of consolidation within society, primarily around our leader, Vladimir Putin. Therefore, our primary task is to do everything within our power not only to retain the existing positive tendencies in interethnic relations, but also to create new points of growth in the implementation of the national ethnic policy.”