Ildar Gilmutdinov:'' We don’t have any bill on Russian nation yet''

How a deputy from Tatarstan reported on non-existing law, former minister mocked Ufa and religious clerics warned about ‘‘religious terrorism’’ at Gaidar forum

The second day of the Gaidar Forum ended with an expert discussion that was not about economic issues but closely connected with politics – Religious and Ethnic and Cultural Diversity. Political experts, ethnologists, sociologists, state workers, representatives of different religions and even businesspeople gathered in one place. A correspondent of Realnoe Vremya also visited the meeting of experts.

No bill yet

Relations between nations and religions are quite actively discussed by the media because of the processes taking place in the world: military conflicts, migration of people, some politicians' statements. In such a country as Russia, this issue has always been on the agenda. This is why an expert discussion called Religious and Ethnic and Cultural Diversity: Development, Sustainability, Safety was organised at the 2017 Gaidar Forum for a reason.

It should be reminded these topics were arisen at the end of last year when President of Russia Vladimir Putin charged with creating a law on Russian nation. There was made different and opposite presupposition what kind of law it will be. Some people reacted to the president's instruction with irony, scepticism and even rejection, while it inspired and gave some people hope.

Meanwhile, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Nationalities Ildar Gilmutdinov delivered a speech at the forum and told he receives tens of letters on the law every day. Some people ask him to tell about its content.

''I want to officially claim that no committee started to work on it. We don't have any bill yet,'' the deputy elected to the lower chamber of the parliament from Tatarstan stressed.

Some people reacted to the president's instruction with irony, scepticism and even rejection, while it inspired and gave some people hope. Photo: kremlin.ru

He read the president's instruction. It was said that the praesidium of the Russian Presidential the Council for Interethnic Relations must ''present offers on preparation of the project of the legal regulatory act that regulates relations in strengthening the unity of multinational Russian Federation (Russian nation).

''The president understands it is a very delicate topic,'' the parliament speaker continued. ''Everything needs to be compared here. This is why a working group with scientists, experts, social activists, specialists was created. Regions are also joining it. A legal regulatory act we are speaking about will appear through a detailed discussion and numerous platforms.

Gilmutdinov asked not to rock the boat. According to him, the president is looking for possibilities to move forward together – uniting factors – in a country with many nations and religions.

The deputy called erection of monuments to people who lived tens, hundreds and thousands of years ago an example of rocking. Probably he insinuated the monuments to Stalin, Katherine II, Ivan the Terrible and Vladimir the Great, which were already erected or will appear in Russian cities. He says that monuments can be erected to war heroes, toilers and other people who won't cause contradictions in the society.

''There must be no closed topics on national issues. If there is a pain, we need to tell about it. If we close our mouth, we will have problems,'' he resumed having offered the experts to cooperate with him and share their ideas.

The academic said formation and approval of the all-Russian identity, concepts of ''Russians'', ''Russian people'' together with the return of religious institutes were an important step made in the last ten years. Photo: Timur Rakhmatullin

Bashkiria is not Texas, and Russia – not USA

Head of the Centre for Extremism and Xenophobia Studies of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences Emil Pain, in turn, preferred to speak about this ''cultural diversity'', not ''national policy''. He says that this approach will be more productive.

''The strategy of state national policy also has a concept of ''civic nation'', Pain said. ''Even experts don't understand well what it is. In any case, there is a great diversity of opinions about it.''

''I will explain you now,'' academic adviser of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and deputy chairman of the Russian Presidential Council for Interethnic Relations Valery Tishkov interrupted him.

Tishkov approved the concepts of ''ethnic and religious'' and ''cultural'' diversity. In the expert's opinion, such a diversity should come from not only ''people's friendship'' but also ''friendly people'' because ''people's friendship'' means that today peoples are friends but tomorrow – no.

''It became absurd here. The president visits one of the republics of our country. And he is welcomed with mottos 'Bashkortostan and Russia – forever together'. It is like if American president were welcomed with 'Texas and America – forever together','' he mocked.

The academic said formation and approval of the all-Russian identity, concepts of ''Russians'', ''Russian people'' together with the return of religious institutes were an important step made in the last ten years. Remembering the period when he worked in the government of Yegor Gaidar as minister on ethnic issues, Tishkov said he offered to write in the preamble of the Constitution of Russia ''We are a nation with many peoples'', not a ''multinational people'', to emphasise the national issue of our country.

''We are speaking about a numerous identity that can exclude another one. ''I am not Russian, I am from Russia,'' he cited the famous phrase of Bashkir classic Mustay Karim. ''This is why it is confirmed by the president in interethnic relations. Yes, there is an opposition, there are critics, those who support the ethnic and national meaning of a nation.''

Rushan Abbyasov: ''The president of our country has recently paid attention to not to use the words ''terror'' with ''Islamic'' together. The millennial history of relations of good neighbours helps to cope with it''. Photo: gdb.rferl.org

Pastors take the floor

Religious activists who came to the meeting focused on the religious component of the discussion. Metropolitan Volokamsky Ilarion who chairs the Department of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church told that the number of Orthodox churches in Russia has increased from 10,000 to 36,000 since 1998, that is to say, 2-3 churches open every day in the country. According to him, this pace doesn't reduce. Moreover, such processes are taking places in other religions too.

At the same time, any religion criticises terrorism. In the cleric's opinion, there is no ''religious terrorism'' or ''terrorism based on religion''. In addition, deputy chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia Rushan Abbyasov agreed with it.

''It would be good if the words ''Islamic extremism'', ''Islamic terrorism'' or ''Islamic radicalism'' were not used in the media,'' Hazrat Rushan started to speak. ''The president of our country has recently said not to use the words ''terror'' with ''Islamic'' together. The millennial history of relations of good neighbours helps to cope with it.''

He also reminded that in Bolgar (Tatarstan) in summer 2015, the heads of the biggest muftiates of the country signed Social Doctrine of Russian Muslims where terms ''jihad'', ''shahid'' and others are explained.

As archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin noted, the concepts of ''nation'' and ''people'' refer to the authority. The general civic identity covers ethnic and religious identities. For a person, his national or ethnic identity is the most important thing. From our columnist's view, it is impossible to separate politics from religion. Such a concept failed. For this reason, state workers should not ignore religious and ethnic factors.

By Timur Rakhmatullin

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