On 25 September, the interregional expert forum “Regional aspect in ethno-confessional relations and labour migration (by the example of the Voronezh region) took place in the conference hall of the main university building of Voronezh State University. The forum was organised by the “Centre of social and legal support of displaced residents “Art of life”” with the support of the Government of the Voronezh region and the Department of Sociology and Politology of the Faculty of History of Voronezh State University.
Among the participants of the forum were over 50 people representing different organisations and structures of the Voronezh region, students and staff of VSU, and guests from the USA.
VSU Vice-rector, Oleg Grishayev, gave a welcoming speech. He said that the university often houses serious scientific forums and offers opportunities to discuss urgent issues.
Alexander Timashov, personal assistant of the governor of the Voronezh Region, secretary of the National Chamber under the aegis of the governor of the Voronezh region, outlined the main focus of the forum. Yulia Nikiforova, the Head of the “Centre of social and legal support of displaced residents “Art of life””, in her welcoming speech set the main areas of work for the organisation, the tasks which it solves when providing assistance to displaced residents.
Among other speakers of the forum were specialists in the area of ethno-confessional relations and migration. Elena Lutschik, the Deputy Head of the Department of Social and Political Projects of the Regional Policy Department of the Government of the Voronezh Region, set the main areas of state’s national policy in the Voronezh region and shared interesting examples from her work experience. She spoke frankly about the issues that need to be solved in this area. The representative of the Voronezh metropolis of the Russian orthodox church, priest Yevgeny (Litschenyuk), told the audience about the experience of helping migrants, including illegal migrants by religious organisations and houses of mercy. His speech triggered a heated discussion among the audience.
Nadezhda Polivayeva, the Head of the Department of Social, Humanitarian, Financial, and Legal Disciplines at Voronezh Institute of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, highlighted the issues of constitutional principles of state and ethno-confessional relations in Russia. Viktoria Chernikova, associate professor from the Department of Sociology and Politology of VSU provided an analysis of migration policy in the Voronezh region based on the adaptive potential of the host society. She outlined opportunities and potential threats which need to be considered in migration policy. Alexandre Pankratiev, VSU postgraduate students, leading consultant of the Department of the Population Policy and Labour Migration of the Voronezh Region Employment Department, presented an information system which could improve the work with migrants. Andrei Lushpayev, Deputy Head of the Head Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Voronezh region, provided statistics of migration flows in the Voronezh region and pointed out the most problematic issues.
Ludmila Vasilieva, the Head of the Semiluki “House of Friendship”, told the audience about its institution. Nabigulla Bagamayev, member of the Council for International Relations under the aegis of the governor of the Belgorod region, shared the experience of the Belgorod region. Margarita Maslennikova, Director of the “Council of Women”, talked about projects aimed at upholding traditional family values. The presentation of John Mark Dougan, public activist from the USA, attracted a lot of interest. He told the audience about his experience of interaction with migration authorities. Konul Portnykh, a member of the National Chamber under the aegis of the governor of the Voronezh Region, talked about issues of working with migrants as seen by the National Chamber.
Despite the great number of speakers and the pressing issues that they discussed, the moderator of the meeting, Vladimir Ivanov, a member of the Council of the Voronezh Region Department of the Assembly of the Peoples of Russia, State Counsellor of the Voronezh region, 1st class, managed to keep all the discussions within the scheduled time.
The recommendations proposed by the speakers will contribute to the development and implementation of efficient solutions in the area of ethno-confessional relations and migration policy and to further research in this area.