Sunday, November 7, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Governors Ignoring Numerically Small Peoples, Medvedev Told

Paul Goble

Staunton, November 7 – The Russian Federation Social Chamber has sent an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev detailing violations of the rights of numerically small peoples in the regions and seeking a meeting to talk about the neglect some but not all governors show toward these indigenous nationalities.
Pavel Sulyandziga, a member of the Chamber and head of its working group for the development of Siberia and the Far East, noted in this message to Medvedev that “in the Russian state there exists a kind of present-day serfdom in relation to the indigenous peoples when there hunting and fishing areas are handed over to commercial companies.”
In addition the appeal to the Russian president specified that “bureaucrats from the Ministry of Regional Affairs are not able to influence this [process of destroying the livelihoods of these traditional peoples’ because they are un-professional” and often do not understand what is at stake.
Sulyandziga told the Regions Club that he intends to ask the president to focus his attention “on the relations of the heads of Russian Federation subjects to the problems of indigenous peoples,” especially in Buryatia, the Transbaikal kray and Primorsky kray (
Although Sulyandziga did not say so, he clearly hopes that Medvedev will add treatment of ethnic minorities to the list of policy areas on which governors are evaluated before they are re-nominated. And if he succeeds in doing so, that will have an impact far beyond the areas where the numerically small peoples of the North live.
The Social Chamber’s efforts in this direction, however, appear unlikely to be successful because the economic forces that governors are typically beholden to are far more influential. But in taking this high-profile step, Sulyandziga may also hope to link his concerns with those of environmental activists who also would like to see their issue be added to the evaluation list.

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