Friday, September 12, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Matvienko Wants a State Committee on Ethnic Relations

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 12 – In the wake of Vladimir Putin’s dissolution of the regional affairs ministry and his distribution of its functions to various ministries, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko has called for the creation of a state committee on inter-ethnic relations, although she says that whether that happens will be up to the government.


            Matvienko said she was concerned about the apparent downgrade in attention to inter-ethnic matters. “This is an important question which needs serious state attention considering that we are a large multi-national country.” Making the culture ministry responsible is insufficient because “inter-ethnic relations are more than about the preservation of national cultures, traditions and handicrafts” (


            She called for the creation of a separate structure which she specified would “not be involved in the distribution of money but would instead concentrate on the entire complex of inter-ethnic relations.”  As she has before, Matvienko suggested that this take the form of a state committee on inter-ethnic relations.”


            Such a body, the Federation Council speaker said, would monitor the situation in the regions, prepare “recommendations for the government, write annual reports, draw conclusions about which are the most serious issues and which require decisions.”


            Lest her words be viewed as a criticism of what Putin has just done – which of course they are – Matvienko said that her idea was “only a proposal” and that the government had every right to make a decision about whether to move forward on it or not. But the that she went this far at this time underscores how unhappy many in Moscow are with what Putin has done.


            And perhaps more importantly, it suggests that there are a growing number who are unprepared to take the risks that would arise if, as seems likely, Putin continues on his current course of reducing ethnic relations as did his Soviet predecessors to either issues of traditional handicrafts or as a matter for the police.



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