Zilya Valeeva: “It was a serious test, we learned to make non-standard decisions”

Head of the Public Chamber of Tatarstan on the test of strength and mutual assistance, know-how in elections and the love for the republic

Zilya Valeeva: “It was a serious test, we learned to make non-standard decisions”
Photo: Maksim Platonov

Tatarstan citizens passed the test of strength, mutual assistance and mercy in 2020 — both representatives of big businesses and ordinary citizens lent their shoulders. This conclusion was reached by Chairman of the Public Chamber of Tatarstan Zilya Valeeva during an online conference of Realnoe Vremya. Speaking with our correspondent, the interlocutor of the edition summarised the year's work of the chamber, told about the first experience of the republic in attracting bloggers observers during voting on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

“It was a year to test human relationships”

Ms Valeeva, in January of this year you have headed, perhaps, the key public body of the republic. Recently, the final meeting of the Public Chamber of Tatarstan in 2020 was held, where the results of the work were summed up.
What did you remember about the outgoing year?

It is not easy to evaluate the year. On the contrary, this year evaluates us all. On the eve of March 8, we held the final mass events of the contest “The Woman of the Year. The Man of the Year: Woman's View”, and immediately after that, a new regime and restrictions began. It was a serious test for everyone. We learned to make non-standard decisions, to act in tough conditions. At the same time, it was a year to test human relationships. We learned a lot about ourselves, went through a tough but very serious school.

Despite all the distancing, the Public Chamber of the Republic of Tatarstan did not distance itself for a second from the problems, from what people and NGOs need. We tried to remain an open and useful platform where one can discuss everything and get advice.

I remember learning the zoom conference mode for the first time. Representatives of NGOs and bankers met in this format. This happened with the assistance of the ministry of economy of the Republic of Tatarstan, when the state extended a helping hand to NGOs. Prior to this, bankers did not work with NGOs, and NGOs had no experience in obtaining a loan. At first, many were afraid of bank funds, so as not to end up in a debt hole. But when colleagues told us that they had received loans and kept their team, other NGOs agreed. Under certain conditions, the subsidy was free of charge, and other assistance that was important during the pandemic was also provided. It was a time of amazing mutual understanding. Many sought to help each other.

When we gathered young people from strong charitable foundations, including with the participation of the president of the Republic of Tatarstan, there was always a result. There is a general level of trust and mutual assistance in the republic. Now it needs to be protected.

Can you say that we have become stronger?

Yes, we came out of these trials stronger. We learned about corporate social responsibility. Our largest enterprises have always been distinguished by this. In April, they were the first to come to mutual assistance. In the conditions of severe shortage of masks, antiseptics, gloves, a plane from China landed in Kazan with production lines on board, which were quickly put into operation. When workers and housewives sat down to sew masks, and NGOs distributed them, KAMAZ, TAIF Group, Tatneft offered their reliable shoulder. They took care of their veterans, the volunteer units of these enterprises worked on an equal footing with all the volunteers of the republic.

It is uneasy to evaluate the year. On the contrary, this year evaluates us all. We learned to make non-standard decisions, to act in tough conditions. At the same time, it was a year to test human relationships. We learned a lot about ourselves, went through a tough but very serious school

Were you surprised by the reaction of small and medium-sized businesses, which experienced very difficult times for themselves but went to help those in need?

I'll tell you more. Our volunteers often told us that many grandmothers asked to take food packages to those who have many children. This is how people showed themselves. There was no difference between a big boss and an ordinary citizen. Everyone was very responsible.

Despite everything, life did not stop, including the political one. That year, two significant political events took place: voting for amendments to the constitution, presidential elections and municipal elections. What role did the Public Chamber play in these processes?

Changes in the Constitution concern every person. When the first amendments were discussed, we paid special attention to that the concept of civil society, as well as the social package of family support, first appeared in the Constitution.

State tasks in relation to children is a humanitarian breakthrough in my opinion. These are very important articles that also bind the government. The civil society, its position, the results of the work of recent years have led to that the constitution has articles on supporting the volunteer movement, NGOs. Now changes are being made to the bills on the support of volunteers themselves.

Every day, specialists from different departments gathered in the public chamber in the call centre and discussed urgent problems. The hotline worked, we immediately passed all the questions we received to specialists. No question was ignored. It was very important for us to convey to people the interpretation and explanation of the new amendments to the Constitution, there was enough contrivance and fakes.

The second part of our work was related to direct participation in the voting. According to the legislation, the Public Chamber is assigned to organise and monitor the transparency and legitimacy of elections. Every year, every election is a new experience. If earlier there were about 3,000 observers at the elections, then there were about 16,000 observers at the voting in the amendments to the Constitution. Last year we worked with representatives of political parties. There were 6 parties, 40 representatives of NGOs — all were involved in this work.

According to the legislation, the Public Chamber is assigned to organise and monitor the transparency and legitimacy of elections. Every year, every election is a new experience

“Bloggers are a serious force for promoting transparency”

Fakes flooded the Internet. At the initiative of the Public Chamber of the Republic of Tatarstan, representatives of the blogging community became observers at the election processes. How successful was this experience, and will it continue in the future?

On the last day of voting, analysing the results of the elections, commentators of federal channels highlighted Tatarstan. The republic was among the leaders in turnout, many young people participated in the elections. In their opinion, it is because we attracted bloggers, a youth team, and their peers followed them.

The guys who participated in the elections took a different look at this process, and they opened our eyes a little. They managed to raise the institution of elections to a new romantic level. They talked about the election with a new, fresh look. Bloggers are a team of caring people, they look at everything with great interest. The young people are ready for further cooperation. There were no conflicts in the areas where bloggers were present and live broadcasts were conducted. Bloggers are a serious force for promoting transparency.

I'll give you one example. There was a conflict situation at one of the polls. A man came, violating all sanitary norms, did not introduce himself, began to shake the urn, rechecking the seal, shooting everything on video. The chairman of the PEC for such behaviour forbade him to go to the poll. This citizen cut out and published the chairman's words only that he was not allowed in. One girl took a video of the situation from beginning to end, which helped to see it completely during the trial, when Ella Pamfilova became interested in the incident.

Later, we received calls from other regions, they were interested. This experience was highly appreciated in Russia. But one needs to be prepared to attract the power of bloggers. This is not only trust but also mutual responsibility.

Bloggers are a team of caring people, they look at everything with great interest. The young people are ready for further cooperation. There were no conflicts in the areas where bloggers were present and live broadcasts were conducted. Bloggers are a serious force for promoting transparency

“NGOs began to enter the public sphere for the first time”

What are the tasks of the Public Chamber in 2021?

Our main issues will be related to the implementation of national projects, which are being seriously adjusted. The Public Chamber worked with six social ministries, where public goals are formed. The goals were developed in the departments and posted on the public services portal. All the ministries reported to us that the interest of residents in voting has increased by one and a half to two times. It is important that people believe in dialogue. There were a lot of malicious comments, which it is better not to waste your time on. This is a serious platform where there is an opportunity to offer something better.

Support for NGOs remains a priority for us. In 2020, grants were suspended, but still in the second half of the year, grants for 39 million rubles were held, and NGOs had the opportunity to receive a small amount of support, which goes to help children with disabilities, veterans — those who are socially vulnerable.

The republic charms by that like-minded people work in different spheres in Tatarstan. Those who come to us with old stereotypes are surprised in a good way. And this is also the result of the work of those who live here

Official partner:

By Lilia Yegorova. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan