Statement by Russian Ambassador to Zambia, H.E Alexander Boldyrev

THE Russian Federation is one of the largest multinational (according to the 2010 census, representatives of 193 ethnic groups live in the country), multilingual (277 languages and dialects are used in the country) and multiconfessional (represented by more than 60 religious denominations) states in the world.

The Russian Federation has joined all international documents related to the protection of national minorities, and is one of the few countries that has committed to ensuring the rights and freedoms of all peoples and ethnic groups residing on its territory.

Within the framework of international organizations, attempts to define a universal concept of a “national minority” are still unsuccessful. The complexity of this definition consists, particularly, in the variety of situations associated with the existence of the most diverse minorities, as well as significant differences in the state-legal practice of regulating interethnic relations.

In practice, national minority is a part of representatives of a certain ethnic community living in a non-national environment outside the traditional settlement and continuing to preserve their identity, language and culture. The key point in this matter is the principle of voluntary self-identification – to attribute oneself to a national minority or not.

Among national minorities in the Russian Federation, there are ethnic groups whose history of origin is connected with territories outside the country. For example, the representatives of those peoples that have state entities outside of Russia (CIS and Baltic countries, Finland, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, France, Vietnam, China, etc.), as well as the representatives of peoples who do not have any state entities in general (Gypsies, Assyrians, Karaites, Kurds, etc.).

The protection of the rights of minorities in the Russian Federation is ensured within the framework of a common system for the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms, as well as through the consolidation of collective rights and freedoms that give an opportunity to preserve the identity of national minorities.

In Russia, the rights and freedoms of all the citizens are guaranteed at the constitutional and legislative levels, regardless of racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic affiliation, while maintaining and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity. Discrimination on various grounds is liable to criminal and administrative prosecution. Ensuring the rights of national, religious and linguistic minorities and preventing nationalism and chauvinism form the basis of the domestic policy of the Russian Federation.

In practical terms, the task of preserving and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity in the Russian Federation is carried out through the implementation of relevant federal and regional programs. So, in the field of interethnic relations, the State Ethnic Policy Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2025 and the state program of the Russian Federation “Implementation of State National Policy” were adopted.

In order to guarantee the rights of national minorities, relevant measures are also set out in sectoral programs dedicated to the development of culture, education, media in their native languages and the preservation of multilingualism in Russia.

A wide range of issues regarding the protection of national minorities is one of the priorities in the activities of almost all international organizations dealing with human rights matters (UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, etc.). At the same time, this topic is used by individual states and their political communities (primarily the United States and member countries of the European Union), foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to exert pressure on Russia and discredit its foreign and domestic policies, as well as destabilize the social and political situation in a number of Russian regions.

To counter the attempts to use the protection of the rights of national minorities against Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry carries out active outreach and advocacy campaign, highlights the positive experience of the Russian Federation in interethnic and interreligious spheres at all international venues, including events on human rights issues under the auspices of the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Multilateral and bilateral contacts at various levels are also used for these purposes. In international organizations, including their specialized monitoring and expert mechanisms, purposeful and systematic work is underway to clarify the real situation with ensuring the rights of national minorities in the Russian Federation. We emphasize the need for a non-politicized approach without the use of “double standards” in assessing the situation of national minorities in a given country.

Currently, there are events taking place in the world that testify the degradation of the humanitarian situation in the field of protecting the rights of national minorities. In the context of increased migration risks and terrorist threats, a crisis in the field of interethnic and interreligious relations was clearly manifested in many countries, particularly in the European Union member states.

In a globalizing world, some of the problematic situations faced by modern European societies and new global challenges may affect the Russian Federation. It requires an adequate response from the federal and regional authorities and the search for optimal ways to solve these problems in order to maintain stability in our country, consolidate peace and harmony between the various peoples living on its territory.

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