Meeting of the Council for Interethnic Relations 2021-03-30 16:05:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin chaired the tenth meeting of the Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations via videoconference. The meeting discussed the strengthening of Russian civic identity, the creation and promotion of ethnocultural tourism, the role of education in harmonising interethnic relations, and progress in implementing the State National Policy Strategy until 2025. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, We have not seen each other for a long time; we have not met for a while because of the events we all know about, the epidemic, but I hope we will be productive today. I would like to start with a major topic, and it is about strengthening the nation’s civic identity. There is nothing more important for Russia, or for any other country, and we know what problems many countries are facing today in this key area – on the American continent as well as on the European one. We will also hear reports on the role of education in harmonising interethnic relations, including with regard to the social adaptation of migrant children and on creating and promoting ethnocultural tourism projects in the Russian regions. It seems that these are separate topics, but at the same time they are strongly interrelated. But first I would like to congratulate our colleagues, Maxim Amelin, Vladimir Grigoryev and Dmitry Itskovich. They have created a unique and innovative publishing project – a multilingual anthology of contemporary literature of the peoples of Russia – and have become prize winners for their contribution to strengthening the unity of the Russian nation. Let me add that a new stage of the competition for this prize started on March 1. Taking into account its importance, I decided to increase the prize amount to 5 million rubles. I would also like to thank all members of our Council for being active in the drafting and subsequent adoption of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The changes, approved by an absolute majority of citizens, have enshrined the basic principles of the state national policy; the Constitution now says a lot about it. This includes strengthening the unity of the people of Russia, ensuring interethnic accord, preserving the country's ethnocultural and linguistic diversity. All the clauses of the updated Constitution will be followed up in federal laws. This work is already underway, as you know well. In particular, the Government, in collaboration with a wide range of experts, is working on a concept for the state language policy. The Russian language receives special attention in the draft. You know how great its significance is for all citizens of Russia – for the socioeconomic, spiritual and cultural consolidation of society. By the end of this year, the State Duma will adopt in the third reading amendments to the Law On the Languages of the Peoples of the Russian Federation. It will reflect the state’s responsibility for preserving the native languages of the peoples living in Russia, and for creating the right conditions for their study and development. I would like to ask the members of the Council to become more actively involved in law-making, and to provide expert support for the deputies’ work in relevant areas. Colleagues, To successfully tackle the tasks facing the country we need not only an effective economy and competent management. For a huge multinational state such as Russia it is fundamentally, and even crucially important, to ensure public solidarity and a feeling of involvement in the life of the Fatherland and responsibility for its present and future, which is commonly referred to as Russian identity and civic consciousness. In some countries, civic identity and ethnic identity are seen as rival notions. I believe that this approach is absolutely incorrect, to put it mildly, and absolutely unacceptable in our country. Our people come from different ethnic groups, but they have a common country, Russia. This is also true for our national languages and customs. Our common state language and our common cultural and spiritual values and traditions, which developed over centuries, are strengthening Russia’s unity and might, and are ensuring our sovereignty and independence. I would like to emphasise that economic and political problems are the root causes of the majority of hot spots around the world. Yes, this is so. But it is interethnic and religious intolerance that are usually incited to provoke conflicts. We must prevent, and we will prevent any aggressive demonstration of one’s ethnic origin or disrespect for other ethnic groups in Russia, and we will not allow foreign conflicts of this kind to be brought to our country. At this moment, over 80 percent of Russian citizens have a positive view on interethnic relations in the country. However, this matter calls for constant, I would even say daily work. In addition, we understand that this issue has always been and still remains a deeply personal and an extremely sensitive sphere. This is why I would like to say once again: we must pay close and constant attention to the implementation of the national policy, especially in the regions, and our actions must be as delicate, tactful and accurate as possible. This is also important in connection with the upcoming nationwide Population Census, and I would like to give this a special mention. As a rule, the census takes place every ten years and it provides the most complete picture of the number and size of large and small ethnic groups, and this picture has to be absolutely objective. I am asking the Federal State Statistics Service as well as the Prosecutor General's Office to ensure people's constitutional right to freely express their will in defining their ethnicity during the census, and to strictly suppress any attempts at pressure and especially discrimination on ethnic grounds. Dividing citizens into friends and foes is not the best example to show the younger generations. One’s civic identity, like patriotism, is not given at birth, rather these are formed later in life. They are fostered by the actions of adults, by models of their behaviour and images proliferated by the media, by our entire social environment: culture, science, and education. All this, along with the traditions in the family, contributes to the education of young people. I cannot help but mention the recent period of the coronavirus restrictions in this connection. I started with it, and now I would like to say this again. Remarkable examples of mutual assistance, disinterested help, and solidarity regardless of one’s age, social status, ethnicity or religion – we have seen all these examples quite recently. And it is important that these examples become a moral guideline for young people, for our children. And of course, in order to realise that they are part of a huge and beautiful country, and to love our Motherland, young generations must get to know the country, in all the diversity of its nature and geography, history, and the various cultures and traditions of our peoples. I hope that the Tourism and the Hospitality Industry national project will contribute to achieving that; we will also talk about this today. The proposal to develop that project was supported last November, as you know. I also support your proposal, colleagues, to include measures for the development of ethnocultural tourism in that national project. We will certainly discuss this today as well. Russia has a unique and original heritage of its peoples. It is part of our common wealth, and it should be accessible to every resident of our country, every citizen, everyone who lives on this land, and again, this primarily concerns the younger generations. Let's move on to our agenda. <…> Vladimir Putin: To finish up, I would like to draw your attention to the following: the list of instructions will certainly note the need to take additional measures for the adaptation of children of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation. We will also note the issues of tourism, support for the ethnocultural parks that are being established now, including methodological support at the federal level. Of course, we will note the need to review the proposal that was just made to create a national centre for studying the history of the Great Patriotic War, as well as the proposal to extend the terms for temporary stay of minors of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation. Naturally, we will again return, in this list of instructions, to the National Population Census and the need to strictly comply with Russian Federation laws. In this context, it is vital to prevent any discrimination on social, ethnic, national, linguistic or religious grounds. These are extremely important issues. Some other proposals that I consider important were also made at our meeting. I would like to ask the Presidential Executive Office to summarise them and present proposals to be included in the list of instructions. Colleagues, I would like to thank all of you for continuing this work and for your participation in our today’s meeting. I hope we will continue to cooperate in the future. I do not need to repeat how important your work is for multiethnic and multi-religious Russia. Thank you very much.