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Corn from chaff

Marina Bogoslovskaya: The government itself calls citizens to activism

Corn from chaff

In an interview with, a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, deputy chairman of the Public Chamber of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), told why it is necessary to keep a subscription to newspapers in Yakutia, how to deal with teenage cruelty and what measures will help to support non-profit organizations (NGOs).

- Marina Olegovna, what do you think the Public Chamber is for?

- Public chambers, both regional and all-Russian, are a kind of institution that involves society in governing the state. The task of the Public Chamber is to collect information, public opinion and subsequently polish the essential “grain”, which is passed on to the authorities in the form of recommendations. The Public Chamber was not created to listen to the authorities and then retell to the people what they want from them, but vice versa. It's like a "safety cushion" between society and government. Nobody hears the crowd. And if there is some body that accumulates expert assessments, holds public hearings and then issues a summary document, then this is a competent approach to business.

Now in our country there has come a very interesting time, when the government itself calls citizens to activism - involvement in all processes that occur in public and political life.

What is this call?

- The issue of the overflow of activity into the social sphere was raised last year at the forum "Health of the nation - the basis of Russia's prosperity", which was held, among other things, under the auspices of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The forum was attended by representatives of public organizations from different regions of Russia. The event was attended by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, who suggested shifting some of the social functions to NGOs, because with the help of independent public organizations the funds reach their goals. Somewhat exaggerating, it turns out that the state has acknowledged a certain helplessness in solving problems in the social sphere and encourages entrepreneurs to engage in socially-oriented business, which will be financed by the state. Yes, the money went. But there is another nuance - officials do not always understand this message correctly: they hear the word “social”, but they miss the word “business”.

Here is a woman organized a few years ago a private kindergarten. And it is presented as the flagship of social entrepreneurship. But no one goes into her story about the fact that in the first year they worked on zeros, in the second year they received a subsidy from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship (without it they would not have survived), in the third year they generally went into negative. That is, if there is financing now, then this is good. But where is the business here ?! It turns out, we pull out of the entrepreneurial sphere of literate people and simply involve them in the social sphere. We pay them all. But they will not preserve the conditions, so that people could afford to take their children to private kindergartens and schools! The real help of the state is in providing benefits, free premises or equipment for leasing. Then it will be business.

-How does the state help non-profit organizations? And what initiatives does the Republican Public Chamber put forward on the interaction of the authorities and NGOs?

- Yakutia is one of the first constituent entities of the Russian Federation, where a department to support civil initiatives was created. Now the issue of creating a resource center on the basis of one of the republican charitable foundations is being resolved. As a Public Chamber, which has established regular communications with NGOs, we are trying to ensure that more attention is paid not to writing programs and reports on them, but to real work. There were environmental organizations, parental committees operating before ... Now it seems that everything is put on money and people no longer have any intangible enthusiasm.

We are going to resume workshops for NGO representatives. Moreover, not only the lecturer will come, but also representatives of the country's leading grant operators, to which for many years none of our NGOs could get through, we did not receive grants there at all. Last year, we held the first congress of NGOs, where we raised the question that only urban NGOs and nearby ones have practical access to grants and subsidies. The Sakha Republic is large and communications are not yet very well established - in many settlements there is simply no Internet. Oftentimes, people only get information from the print media.

Even if there is the Internet and the press, it is difficult to register public organizations in remote areas. Because in order to register an organization, one has to fly to Yakutsk, which is certainly expensive. You have to fly several times: submit documents and pay a fee, undergo an examination that lasts a month - and it is not a fact that in 30 days it will be possible to obtain a certificate: in 80% of cases, documents are returned with a request for revision - and everything starts anew. Therefore, many district NGOs work without registration, which does not give them access to grant support for their activities.

We are in favor of the creation of teams from the Department of Justice, which would, according to some schedule, travel to the uluses, conduct a reception, advise citizens and take a ready-made package of documents for registration. But the Department of Justice goes very hard on this. That is, it turns out that the resources that the state allocates to support NGOs are very unevenly distributed. There are many social activists, but one part has access to resources, the other does not.

- In Yakutia, the problem of increasing the tariffs of the Russian Post is very acute. Will the intervention of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation be able to resolve the situation?

- I think yes. Because the problem concerns not only us, many regions suffer. I am going to initiate a large round table in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on the tariffs of the Russian Post. The system of tariffing by zones forced many residents of the uluses to refuse to subscribe to newspapers: a newspaper in the Arctic ulus costs more than 100 rubles. It's too heavy!

Let's face it. Of course, the paper press is gradually becoming a thing of the past. But print media will probably live longer in Yakutia than in other regions of Russia. We must not abandon the subscription institution. By the way, not only newspapers suffered from the tariffs of the Russian Post, but also children's publications in national languages. And we want children to preserve their culture and language. How without it? Moreover, the Russian Post is ready to meet halfway.

- Why did the Public Chamber of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) pay close attention to children, the moral situation in schools?

- Recently we conducted raids on schools in all eight districts of the city of Yakutsk. The conclusions are not entirely comforting. Infrastructure for children's leisure a little where created: there are no playgrounds, accessible gyms, mugs. All paid, but not all parents can pay. Children remain on the street unattended, because parents either work or do not pay attention to raising a child. We decided to deal with the issue of organizing leisure for children in order to somehow minimize the manifestations of cruelty in the teenage environment.

Everyone is hearing now a story that stirred the whole country: a new girl came to school, studied for a week, beat her. And all the horror is that one girl was beating, and the other ten people were standing and filming a video, which they then put on the net. I visited the girl in the hospital. It is clear that she is very depressed, especially because the video was on the Internet. Her mother refused to participate in the well-known talk show on television. But other people who called themselves relatives of the family went. As a result, in this transfer, the heroes made those boys who shot the video, and the girl who inflicted beatings. That is, the whole story was perverted.

I spoke with the head of the children's department of the medical center, she told me that such statistics of teenage cruelty is not going to, but she is. In the daily mode, they receive four or five children beaten by their peers, who get into neurosurgery with fractures and with terrible hematomas, sometimes in a much worse condition than this girl. It is necessary to dig deeper, and not to deal with a specific one story, although here you also need help.

- The scope of the Public Chamber includes issues of housing and communal services. What have to work here?

We are dealing with housing and communal services problems. At one time, the Public Chamber of the Republic held free legal consultations for the population on social issues and problems of housing and communal services twice a week. The folk path did not overgrow, we had records for two months ahead. They explained the situation to people, advised where to turn, helped to draw up a statement of claim, etc. Moreover, with these our lawyers, we have created a "legal clinic" under an agreement with the Baikal University of Economics and Law. It was a kind of practice for students who saw live work that they would have to do after graduation.

- What is the position of the Public Chamber of Yakutia in relation to the Zarechye PSEDA?

- PSEDA “Zarechye” has already made “a lot of ado about nothing”: the project itself does not exist yet. And people are already worried, although they have no reliable information. Our task is to hold public hearings, attract experts, make our own decision in the form of recommendations and send it to the government.

The indignation of the population is understandable: people want to live in an environmentally friendly environment. And the chemical plant, which will produce methane right on the river bank in a densely populated region of the republic, scares them. Officials like this project because an investor will come. I think both sides should be heard. The authorities that are promoting this project must prove to the population who will have to live next to this plant that the implementation of the PSEDA Zarechye project will only make their life better.

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