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Original: English, Russian


Division for Social Policy and Development
Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Indigenous Peoples: Development with Culture and IdentityArticles 3 and 32 of the  United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
(New York, 12 - 14 January 2010)

Contribution by

Ms Anna Naikanchina
Vice-President of RAIPON,
Chair of Information and Legal Center of Indigenous Peoples of the North of the Republic of Buryatiya ”Nerilik”(Hope)
e-mail: naikanchina@inbox.ruRussia is one of the polyethnic countries in the world in spite of the fact that about 80% of citizens identify themselves as Russian people. There are 200 ethnic groups residing on the territory of the Russian Federation and apart from the Russian people the population of a million or about this number is reached by buryats, yakuts, bashkirs, kalmyks and others. Nevertheless, most of thepeoples living in Russia are ethnic groups not exceeding 50 thousand people, who live densely or are dispersed over 64% of the territory of the country. The population of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East is 243,982 peoples (by the All-Russia census of 2002) which makes 0.2 of the total population of Russia.

The indigenous peoples of the North have preserved theirtraditional lifestyle on the lands of their ancestors, their distinct culture, language, traditions and customs. They continue to be engaged in reindeer herding, fishing and hunting. Their well-being and sustainable development is critically dependent on the wellness of their original habitat, access to their lands, traditional territories and natural resources. However, their rights andinterests are infringed in the course of exploration and development of oil and gas, gold and diamonds, uranium and coal, harvesting of wood and industrial felling. As a result, irreparable damage is being caused to the habitat and traditional lifestyle of the indigenous peoples.

In Russia, like many other countries, the state enjoys the exclusive right of ownership of mineral resources. Mostof the lands, territories and natural resources are state property. The relationship pertaining to protection and use of natural resources, as well as lands, water bodies, forest and mineral resources is regulated by federal law. However, many norms in the federal laws are declarative in nature, or their implementation requires issuance of subordinate legislations, or they are extinguished byother laws. For indigenous people it is important that the federal laws on land and mineral resources include the principle of free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples. This principle, however, is not captured by the Russian law. Even though in 2007 V.V.Putin said: “We have laws in place towards support of the indigenous peoples of the North, their national cultures. We will attachpriority importance to this. Russia is unique by its national and cultural make-up. This is our richness and we cannot be wasteful in this respect. We will do everything to preserve and maintain our wealth. This also concerns the Russian business: in implementation of investment projects due regard should always be given to the interests of local inhabitants and particularly the indigenous peoplesof the North. Major companies in case of investments should care about preservation of traditional activities of these peoples and maintaining the ecological stability and ecological situation. This is a very important direction.”
The indigenous peoples are well aware of the importance of state interests of Russia in the Arctic region, strengthening of economic potential and development of...
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