Guest Number

Today’s guest
is Timur Khalilov.  He is a student at Kuban State University and a recipient
of a grant from the Roma Educational Fund.  In general, he represents
a new generation of young Roma who have successfully integrated into
modern society. 

– Timur,
tell us a bit about your family.  Who are your parents and how were you
brought up?

I was born
in a smallish town called Temriuk which is in the west of the Krasnodar
Territory. It is a region rich in sun, sea, fruit and fish.  I, of course,
have loved all these things since childhood.

There are four
children in our family and I am the youngest.  From a very early age
my parents cultivated in me the ideas and values of humanism.  All the
Khalilov children know how important respect for the human is, of the
necessity of hearing and listening to different opinions.  From an early
age my mother and father taught me to love books and as such I read
all kinds of literature with great pleasure.  The members of our family
are the embodiment of the so-called “healthy living code”:
we all exercise and don’t have harmful habits.

My mother,
Aza Smailovna is a kind spirited person with an open heart.  I am indebted
to her for my interests (I love to study, read, take photos, travel
and listen to music).  There was a period of my childhood when there
just weren’t enough books for me! Really, there actually weren’t any!
My mother was able to bring us books from Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Moscow
and Khabarovsk.  We read and continue to read with great pleasure.

The words of
my mother are always with me: ” Timur, you have to become a human,
and, in addition to this, try not to lose your conscience”.   These
words have now become my motto for life.

My father,
Alexander Nikolaevich is a truly wise man. He always helps me with everything.
Our family is patriarchal, and therefore the father’s opinion is always
the authority. He choreographs and produces dance shows of various genres
and styles.  In his youth my father had the honour of performing on the
same stage as the masters of dance: Vasil’ev, Grigorovich, and Liepa.
My grandfather
and grandmother are, sadly, not with us any more. I do not remember
my father’s father – he died before I was born. He lived through all of
the wars.  After 1945 he worked as a blacksmith in various businesses
in Termiuk. I only have vague memories about my grandmother on my father’s
side. All I know is that she was an excellent healer.

My grandfather
on my mother’s side was also at the front, and was taken prisoner in a
battle. Luckily for him as a Roma, he was able to escape from captivity
together with two Jews. In the USSR my grandfather (Hero of the USSR)
was named an enemy of the people and was oppressed. He was later rehabilitated.
I understand that the war period was an awful time for the nation, but
why did the state system of the time have to kill and cripple the futures
of millions of people? I’m not able to find a clear and rational answer
to this. Modern Russian society resists admitting the truth about Stalinism
with all its strength. This means that in one way or another society
accepts, like it did before, the lie on which the Stalin dictatorship

My maternal
grandmother was the embodiment of kindness and tenderness; I remember
her well.  Not long ago my mother and I were looking through the family
album and I came to the conclusion that under the yoke of one of the
cruelest tyrants of the past century people nevertheless continued to
live, love and enjoy themselves. But, obviously, everyday life under
Iosif Vissarionovich was far from humane.

-To which
of the Roma ethnic groups do you belong?

My ancestors
came to Kuban from the Crimea.  We belong to the Crimean group of Roma, spread
among this group are some Tartar families.  Many Roma follow the Muslim
faith, but in our family we are all Orthodox Christians.

let’s talk about your first days at school.  What difficulties did you
come across? How did you form relationships with friends and teachers?

I studied at
school No. 3 in the town of Temriuk from first form to eleventh form.
I did not attend kindergarten. I was quite unprepared for starting school;
the other children could already read in syllables, or at least knew
the letters of the alphabet.  All I was able to do was count – and even
then only in money and sweets. After the first few days I realised things
could not go on this way and I diligently began to educate myself. The
whole family helped me with this. True, my older brother was always sceptical
on the subject of my education: he thought I would be the “disgrace
of the Khalilov family”.  Fortunately, he was mistaken.  I finished
school with a gold medal and was presented with the governor’s prize, which
is awarded to the best school leaver in the Krasnodar Territory. In
the eleventh form I won the All-Russia Olympiad in Humanities which
allowed me to enter any socio-humanity university faculty in Russia
without taking the entrance examinations. My parents didn’t want me
to go too far from them and I therefore study in Kaban State University
in the Faculty of Administration and Psychology, specialising in “Political
Science and Political Administration”. Incidentally, I don’t regret
my choice of educational establishment at all.

In school people
behaved in a very friendly manner towards me. From a very early age I
was distinguished by my sociable nature. To this day I cannot keep quiet
or be alone. The teachers behaved towards me like they would do towards
any other pupil, although they understood that Russian was not my mother
tongue. They sometimes even tenderly called me “foreigner”,
which was true because I, on arrival at school, didn’t know many Russian
words. For example, the teacher showed me a card on which was drawn a
mouse and asked me what I see. I, of course, without thinking answered
in Romani – “kermuso”. My first teacher understood that I needed
a bit of work – he was able to understand me, a fact which is very important
because confidence gives rise to confidence.

-How did
the thought of pursuing higher education come into your head? Did your
parents support you?

Everyone in
my family has a higher education. My parents didn’t even entertain the
possibility that I would be an exception to the pattern. The need for
a higher education came from within myself however. I am grateful to
my relatives and close friends that our desires and abilities coincided.

-How do Roma
of your own age react to your decision to enter higher education?  How
typical of young Roma is it to go down this route?

I didn’t come
across any negative attitudes. On the contrary, everyone congratulated
me and supported me in my efforts. It is this kind of attitude which
acts as a stimulus for further development. Nowadays, an increasing number
of young people understand the significance of an education. Such a tendency
cannot be but a good thing.

-What are
your academic and professional interests? What conferences have you
taken part in? What grants and prizes have you been awarded?

In school had
already become attracted to politics as a vocation and not a profession.
I believe that politics, as a vocation, can be done in a moral and ethical
way. But politics as a profession – you are nothing more than a component of
the political system; it is lacking in spiritualism. I therefore chose
for myself the profession of political scientist which involves analysis,
expertise, consultation about political questions affecting society etc. I
will endeavor to recommend influential people to take only those decisions
which coincide with a system of generally accepted moral principles.

I work with
the whole spectrum of political issues: The power and civil society interaction
problematic, public policy making, party building, ethical political
science, and the media environment of the modern political system.

During my time
at university I managed to take part in 57 conferences, congresses, summer
schools, and educational courses in  Krasnodar, Moscow, St. Petersburg,
Vyborg, Perm, Voronezh, Samara, Rostov-Na-Don, Anapa, Gelendzhik, Stavropol,
Kiev, and Odessa amongst others.  In the course of my research activities
more than twenty of my articles were published on a range of political
issues – two of which were written in English.

I will list
those scholarships and prizes which I received this academic year. Otherwise
it will take me too long too remember. I was awarded a Roma Educational
Fund scholarship, the Vladimir Potanin charitable fund scholarship, a
scholarship from the Russian Government, one from the Krasnodarkii Krai
Administration, and an enhanced scholarship from Kuban State University. This
year, the Youth Department of the Russian Association of Political Science
recognised my research as the best in the category of “Public Policy”.
For this work I was awarded the A. Yu. Mel’vil prize.  Also, on the recommendation
of the dean of the Faculty of Administration and Psychology, I was awarded
the Krasnodar Territory Board of Education and Science prize.

where do you currently work?

I work in the
Krasnodar Roma National-Cultural Autonomous Authority. Together with
the leaders of the organisation we organise meaningful programs for the
Roma in our region.

-Tell me something
about the social programs for Roma.

Krasnodar Territory
is one of the most developed regions of Russia, but the Roma ethnic
minority is not a very modern community. However, at the present time our
Roma organisation directs systematic and focused activity to change the
situation for the better.  In the Krasnodar Territory there are programs
for the social protection of Roma. We were able to gain some improvements
in the area of human rights for the Roma in Kuban, to guarantee consultation
with representatives of the Roma ethnic minority on a whole range of
issues, and to raise the level of civil activity.  We cooperate with
the Southern Academic Centre RAS, the Kuban State University and the
Southern Federal University.

Our current
social projects are as follows: the “Co-operation” program
(training members of the Roma ethnic minority of Krasnodar Territory to
be social moderators for Civil Society Institutes in the region), which
is carried out under the support of The Consulate of the Kingdom of
the Netherlands; the project “New Perspective” (repairing
effective systems of charitable activity by members of Krasnodars Territory’s business
elite and national Diasporas), which is supported by the Russian Public

-What are
your plans for the future?

To start with
I want to complete my Diploma of higher education, and then I want to put my
knowledge, skills and abilities into practice. I have not really thought
too seriously about finding employment.  I know one thing though: you
can develop yourself in any sector. The most important thing being that “through
all of it your conscience does not disappear”.