Valery Gazzayev: ‘The Russian language — the language of interethnic communication — unites our multiethnic country better than any staples’

What the legendary coach and currently chairman of the Duma’s Committee for Nationalities’ Affairs talked about during his visit to Tatarstan

Valery Gazzayev: ‘The Russian language — the language of interethnic communication — unites our multiethnic country better than any staples’

Valery Gazzayev recently went on a business trip to Tatarstan. He visited Turks’ Gold forum in late September to meet with the youth and answer concerning questions. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent managed to seize an opportunity and talk with the legendary coach and successful politician for a couple of minutes.

The youth are concerned about sport, politics and football players’ salaries

Within several days, participants in the forum Turks’ Gold, which took place in Tatarstan in late September, managed to meet a lot of famous people including Tatarstan Minister of Culture Irada Ayupova, Minister of Youth Affairs Damir Fattakhov, First Vice Chairman of the Duma’s Committee for Nationalities’ Affairs Ildar Gilmutdinov, Tatarstan State Council deputy Svetlana Zakharova.

Then another interesting meeting awaited them — with Valery Gazzayev, an ex-football player and legendary coach and now chairman of the Russian State Duma’s Committee for Nationalities’ Affairs. He made time to visit the forum during his trip to the Republic of Tatarstan.

Making himself comfortable in the armchair on the stage, he answered questions of the participants in the forum for more than an hour. As it was expected, most questions anyway were about sport — moreover, there weren’t questions about the modern situation in the Russian Football Premier League. For instance, men were interested in the historic match where CSKA under Gazzayev won the UEFA Cup in 2005. Somebody made discoveries. For instance, one of the participants in the forum honestly admitted asking his question that he had googled whom they were going to talk with and when he learnt who Valery Gazzayev was he was amazed: “I am proud the country has such people”.

Making himself comfortable in the armchair on the stage, he answered questions of the participants in the forum for more than an hour. As it was expected, most questions anyway were about sport

However, the personality of the speaker was no surprise for most participants. Different questions were asked — neutral, unexpected and hot-button. For instance, a young man openly asked why football players’ salaries were much higher than those of doctors (and the audience applauded after hearing him). Mr Gazzayev replied delicately: he thinks that doctors and teachers’ salaries shouldn’t be below football players’ salaries. The case is that this is the situation with contractual obligations in the modern world. “Football players’ work is also important because they represent their country, the flag of their country on the international stage, which means they do a very responsible job,” the coach said and remembered how proud he was after winning big international trophies for his country.

Mainly young men expectedly asked Gazzayev questions, and the host deliberately offered girls to express their opinion several times. They did in the end. For instance, a participant in the forum from Perm asked for Mr Gazzayev’s opinion about women’s football, which seemed to confuse the speaker. He replied that women’s football was good, of course, but he thinks the woman has another task.

Mr Gazzayev was also asked why Karachayevo-Cherkessia didn’t have a professional football team — sponsors are needed, the former coach answered.

One of the Kazan participants offered to consider an option in which national teams for international competitions would be created at regional level (for instance, in Tatarstan) like in Great Britain where the teams England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland compete separately. Gazzayev immediately brushed this idea off putting an example of a number of weak teams of former allied republics: “I think that one team should represent Russia, and there is no reason to divide it”.

Mainly young men expectedly asked Gazzayev questions, and the host deliberately offered girls to express their opinion several times

There was another interesting proposal, also from Tatarstan — try to popularise some sport coming from Russia internationally. “For instance, everybody knows that football was created in England. Why not try to promote, for example, Russian lapta?” In reply to this, Mr Gazzayev offered not to divide sport into countries of origin.

“It’s big luck that the youth love sport today”

Taking a photo with everybody after the meeting, Gazzayev answered TV journalists’ questions.

What questions have you been asked the most? About nationalities, national friendship or anyway football and sport?

I think that sport and national issues unite everything and everybody. Of course, every nationality wants to show off in both sport and professional activity. This is why I have been very pleased today to answer questions of our young generation, it is the future of our country, and it is very important in every person’s life. Not every athlete who starts a professional career becomes a great athlete or world star. But there is no doubt that he becomes a strong person who will benefit his family, his surname, his professional career, his country. This is why I think that sport and national issues altogether provide the state with a chance to become strong.

It is big luck that the youth love sport today. You see how much attention both the president and government pay to these issues nowadays. Look at the amazing summer infrastructure, amazing winter infrastructure. Take Tatarstan, world championships, the Universiade, a lot of serious, big tournaments are hosted here. And residents of Tatarstan benefit from this as well, the youth have an opportunity to do sport and pay attention to a healthy lifestyle.

I think that sport and national issues altogether provide the state with a chance to become strong

Could you evaluate the national policy of Tatarstan, how good the work in our republic is?

Tatarstan is one of the very important regions of the Russian Federation. And the 5th All-Russian Turkic Youth Forum is held in Kazan today within the state national policy. This socially important project is implemented to harmonise interethnic relations among the youth. Russia’s Federal Agency for Nationalities’ Affairs with the support of the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan is the organiser of the forum. The main task of the forum is to create and promote different regional projects and train young leaders dealing with state national and youth politics.

“We should oppose the decomposition of moral and spiritual culture by all means”

After a brief talk with TV journalists and another unscheduled photoshoot, Mr Gazzayev wasn’t tuned up for a talk with the press — he had to continue the programme of his visit. However, Realnoe Vremya managed to ask him a couple of questions. At the beginning of the talk, Gazzayev congratulated Rustam Minnikhanov again via our newspaper:

“First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr Minnikhanov on the election and inauguration as the president of Tatarstan. The republic develops very dynamically, and his merit is huge here. I would like to wish him health, happiness, well-being and the republic under his management prosperity”.

So now I deal with the state national policy. And it is a very responsible job

After working in the Duma’s Committee for Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs you chaired the Committee for Nationalities’ Affairs. How did this happen?

The case is that every faction in the State Duma represents certain committees. Our faction (Editor’s Note: Fair Russia) has three committees: on the financial market, housing utilities and nationalities’ affairs. When Oleg Nikolayev stepped down in advance on 29 January 2020 due to his appointment as acting governor of Chuvashia, I was appointed as chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Nationalities’ Affairs. So now I deal with the state national policy. And it is a very responsible job.

We have a huge country with a very rich centuries-old history, greatest achievements and victorious traditions of the multiethnic people. The state policy has paid a lot of attention to the peaceful coexistence of representatives of different nationalities the majority of which still live in our country and made a significant and considerable contribution to the development of Russian statehood since the Catherine era.

What issues exactly do you supervise now?

I would note three key areas in our committee’s work. Firstly, language policy. After two meetings, the Russian Language Council and Council for Interethnic Relations, gave us a task of developing a concept of state language policy of the Russian Federation. And nobody will deny that the Russian language — the language of interethnic communication — unites our multiethnic country today better than any staples. The Russian language has never been forcedly imposed in the history of the Russian and Soviet state. All nations have always had a chance of learning, talking, developing their language, going to schools, printing magazines and newspapers and practising any religion.

The second crucial issue is the creation and conservation of the cultural legacy of our multiethnic country. First of all, this is impossible to do without the institution of family. It is very important that our country supports only the traditional model of family life. I am a person who was brought up in the Caucasus. And family values are unchangeable for me, they were inculcated in me by the generations of my fathers and grandfathers. I think we should pass healthy family values to our children. While we must resist the decomposition of moral and spiritual culture by all means.

Thirdly, it is patriotic education of our youth. 2020 was declared the Year of Memory and Glory in our country, and the whole year is dedicated to one of the holiest and glories pages of our history — the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. The legacy of the Great Victory is a powerful uniting foundation, the basis of patriotic education of the youth. A new generation grows up, and we should tell our youth about our history, about the heroism of our ancestors. It is the best source of patriotic education and love for our Fatherland.

A bill on students’ education initiated by the president was adopted by the State Duma this spring. Now schools and universities will pay as much attention to such education as to teaching itself. The school must pass not only knowledge but also participate in the formation of the individuality and future of the growing generation.

A bill on students’ education initiated by the president was adopted by the State Duma this spring. Now schools and universities will pay as much attention to such education as to teaching itself

“If a person is talented, he will always be in demand”

Many say now that it was easier for a child from an ordinary family in the Soviet era to get to elite sport, moreover, not from the capital. Do you agree with this point of view?

I don’t support this point of view. I can say that ideal conditions are created in our country to do sport. Russia has hosted world-class events such as the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the FIFA World Cup, Universiade in Kazan and Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk. And all these big events left a legacy such as developed infrastructure for both amateur and professional sport. Not all people will become top stars, but it is obvious that they will become strong healthy people who will benefit their country, family in another sphere of life. But believe me, if a person is talented, he will always be in demand.

What have you managed to see in Tatarstan?

I’ve been in the People’s Friendship House, and you know, I am amazed, I have not seen anything like this. It is compact, busy, it is an example for others.

We see Tatarstan’s rapid growth in social, economic spheres, not to mention sport — all sports are at the top level here. Indeed, today Tatarstan should be put as an example of how all spheres of life and activity of the republic should develop.

By Lyudmila Gubayeva, Olga Golyzhbina
Tatarstan