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Russia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

Cultural diversity is an historic element of Russia, where one can find all world religions and almost every type of religious belief, several different language families and very different natural surroundings. In the 1990s, Russia survived a so-called ethnic and religious revival that re-established values and beliefs neglected or even restrained in the USSR and re-enforced ethnicity as a basis for cultural identity. Labour immigration began in the 1990s, which makes the cultural landscape even more diverse and produces new influential Diasporas, e.g. the Chinese in the Far East of Russia.

According to the Census of 2010, 80.9% of the population has stated that they are ethnic Russians; however, it also indicates that about 26 million belong to 180 other ethnic groups. As the result, diversity is understood first and foremost as ethnicity, that is why cultural matters are often placed in an "ethnographic" sense and linked to regional specifics. The main political document in the field is the Concept of the State National (read ethnic) Policy (1996) which is currently being revised. According to the proposals of the Public Chamber (2007), this concept should be based on the contemporary notion of cultural diversity and human rights, thus modernising foundations of identity. The same year, the Ministry for Regional Development submitted a draft Concept stating the preservation and development of ethnic cultural diversity as a political goal.

The forms of state support to ethnic cultural groups are varied, e.g. there is a Council on Kazak Affairs under the Russian President and in 2009, a permanent commission on the organisation of state support for development of Kazak culture, for their artistic groups and children's creativity (folk dance, singing, crafts, etc.) was established. The Federal Target Programmes (FTPs) serve as another instrument of support to ethnic cultural communities and presuppose funding of folk arts and crafts. In 2009, implementation of the FTP for Socioeconomic and Ethnic Cultural Development of Russia's Germans for 2008-2012 included supporting the study of the German language, organisation of exhibitions, festivals and Days of German Culture in the regions of Russia, financing the «Sibirische Zeitung plus» newspaper (Novosibirsk), etc. In 2009, the governmental Sustainable Development Concept for the Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation was adopted to shape related strategies until 2025.

In 2007, there were about 2 300 organisations of an ethnic cultural character including 662 National Cultural Autonomies (NCA), in 2010 the number of the latter equalled 827. The NCAs and other types of ethnic cultural associations including the Roma Culture Centre of the North Caucasus or the all-Russia public movement named the Association of Ugro-Finns of Russia receive direct state support for ethnic cultural development. The most popular activities organised by NCAs are amateur performing arts, establishment of libraries and audio archives in mother tongues, and language courses. Conversely, there are no explicit cultural policies towards new minorities, e.g. towards legal or illegal labour migrants except minimal linguistic integration; the latter are not entitled to any social support or regulation.

Traditional folk cultures and creativity receive state support at all administrative levels and remain very popular among amateur artists in both urban and rural areas. At the federal level, major celebrations are held, including the 300th anniversary of Khakassia (2007) and the 450th anniversary of Udmurtia (2008) joining the Russian state, which are widely reported in the mass media and comprise important cultural modules.

Chapter published: 11-04-2013

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