Kazan’s House of Friendship of Nations
Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, is Russia’s most multicultural city with representatives of more than 115 nationalities. The city has many cultural resources, including 34 museums, 9 theatres, 8 large concert halls, 14 houses of culture, 50 libraries, and 50 children’s art schools. The city is known for its festivals and in 2019 it entered the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for its rich musical heritage.
2. Kazan and culture
The current state of relations between ethnic groups in the city of Kazan generally takes the spirit of peaceful coexistence among cultures, nationalities and religions. For instance, such programs as ‘Implementation of the state national policy in the Republic of Tatarstan for 2014-2020’ and the ‘Preservation, study and development of the state languages and other languages in the Republic of Tatarstan for 2014-2020’ ensure the preservation of interethnic harmony, and the preservation and development of culture and other languages. ‘The Strategy of Social and Economic Development of Kazan until 2030’ emphasises the importance of safeguarding the cultural and religious diversity of the city of Kazan. The municipal program for strengthening civil harmony is adopted every five years.
The House of Friendship of Nations was created in 1999 to develop and instil friendly relations between multinational associations in the region and in 2005 it became a state institution. The initiative, supported by the municipal program for strengthening civil harmony, involves the partnership between government and local ethnic, cultural, and religious communities. Since 2012 the new five-floor building of the organisation includes not only offices of the national communities, but also a library, an information centre, the Tatarstan is Our Home magazine editorial office, a conference room, a concert hall, and a museum.
3. Project goals and implementation
3.1. Main and specific objectives
The House of Friendship of Nations was created with the aim of maintaining an original culture and developing friendly relations between multinational associations of the city and the region, focusing on intangible heritages such as folk traditions, traditional arts, costumes, festivals, and food.
The project has the following objectives:
- increasing the effectiveness of the use of ethno-cultural potential
- implementing a system of measures to enhance the social and cultural adaptation and integration of migrants
- preventing ethnic and religious conflicts
- providing the necessary conditions for the preservation of interfaith harmony and civil unity
- shaping an attitude of tolerance and preventing xenophobia in the society
- providing the necessary conditions for the preservation and development of the language and culture of the citizens
3.2. Project development
Main actions developed
The House of Friendship of Nations initiative, supported by the municipal program for strengthening civil harmony, involves the partnership between government and local ethnic, cultural, and religious communities. As a state institution, it is financially supported by the local and regional authorities, although significant nonfinancial contributions are made by national cultural associations and ethnic diasporas.
The House of Friendshop of Nations initiative, supported by the municipal program for strengthening civil harmony, involves the partnership between government and local ethnic, cultural, and religious communities.
Annually the House of Friendship of Nations organises the International Festival of National Traditions ‘Millennium of Cultures’. The national and cultural associations of the city of Kazan, as well as amateur national and folk music and dance groups, participate in the festival. The performances are made by Russians, Tatars, Kryashens, Jews, Mordvins, Chuvashes, Mari, Udmurts, Tajiks, Greeks, Africans, Koreans, Chechens, Arabs, Buryats, Azeris, Hindus, Vietnamese, Afghans, and others. The aim of the festival is to form a tolerant attitude to the views, beliefs, spiritual, and aesthetic values of the various ethnic groups living in the city of Kazan, and to popularise their distinctive national cultures.
The aim of the festival is to form a tolerant attitude to the views, beliefs, spiritual, and aesthetic values of the various ethnic groups living in the City of Kazan.
4.1. Direct impact
Impact on local government
Multicultural events provide the necessary conditions for the preservation of interfaith harmony and civil unity, form tolerant attitude and prevent hostility to other nations in society. Such initiatives also strengthen the links between local government and community.
Multicultural events provide the necessary conditions for the preservation of interfaith harmony and civil unity, form tolerant attitude and prevent hostility to other nations in society.
Impact on culture and on local cultural actors
The initiative to promote ethnocultural events, the revitalisation of national traditions, the strengthening of inter-ethnic relations, and the preservation of languages helps to retain cultural diversity, and at the same time prevents ethnic and religious conflicts.
Impact on the territory and population
The events of the House of Friendship of Nations demonstrated the attitude of different people to the traditions of their ancestors and every year more than 200 participants take part in the event.
En 2000 hubo 155 comunidades religiosas y organizaciones en Kazán. Hoy existen 180 de esas organizaciones en la capital de la República de Tartaristán.
4.3. Key factors
The world today faces many challenges related to inter-cultural conflicts. This project could provide insights for other cities seeking to promote values of mutual respect and good neighbourliness.
Over the past 10 years, Kazan has developed an open format for the interaction of city authorities, public associations and residents. They are who make proposals what Kazan should be, and the authorities find opportunities for implementing these initiatives. Undoubtedly, this interaction will be maintained in the long term. Furthermore, the city creates an environment of cooperation in which the multinational associations of the city collaborate in productive ways.
5. Further information
Kazan was a candidate for the third “UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award” (November 2019 – May 2020). The jury for the award drew up its final report in July of 2020, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Arseniy Karyakin, First Deputy Head of International Relations Department, Kazan, Russian Federation, Republic of Tatarstan.