Appeal from the indigenous population of Kamchatka
We, the northern indigenous peoples living in the Kamchatkan Oblast, appeal to you with the request to determine the legal status of our residence territories in the Kamchatkan Oblast.
The original population of the Kamchatkan territory consists of Itelmens, Koryaks, Evens, Chukchi, Eskimo, Aleutians, Kamchadals and other northern peoples, for whom this land is their native homeland and living environment. Until today, the territory of the Kamchatkan Oblast is not yet recognised as an indigenous residence territory by Russian Law. The fact that these peoples have no legal base for their traditional land use is contradictory to the intentions of the Russian Constitution and legislation.
Our legal rights are also being violated. All decisions about exploitation of natural resources are made without our participation and are in conflict with traditional land use. The local administration and State authorities have skirted issues concerning the indigenous inhabitants of Kamchatka and the fulfilment of existing laws (the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Decree "On urgent measures for the protection of residence areas and economic activities of the indigenous peoples of the North", the RF laws "On the continental shelf", "On the depths", "On the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation", etc.).
Taking the above into account, and considering the stated interests of the indigenous peoples, we appeal to you to recognise, by power of legislation, the territory of the Kamchatkan Oblast as a traditional residence area of indigenous peoples: the Kamchadals, Itelmens, Koryaks, Evens, Chukchi, Aleutians and Eskimo.
This appeal has been sent to the Administration of the Kamchatkan Oblast, the Council of Peoples' Deputies, the Government of the Russian Federation, the State Duma and the mass media.
Oblast Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North
Union of Communities "YaYaR"
Union of Youth of Indigenous Peoples of the North
GLOBAL ACTION ALERT
-- CALL FOR ACTION --
On 14 March 2001, the governor of the Koryak Autonomous Region on the Kamchatka Peninsula issued an executive order that closed the traditional nature use area "Tkhsanom". Established in December 1998, this area is the home to over one thousand indigenous peoples living in Tigilskiy Raion of the Koryak Autonomous Region of the Russian Federation.
The Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) is making a collective appeal to the international community in an effort to repeal this executive order and to reinstate the "Tkhsanom" traditional use area.
Enclosed is a translation of the letter sent to Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, by local and national leaders of the Russian indigenous movement. We request the world community to appeal to the governmental institutions of the Russian Federation to reverse this illegal action and to defend the constitutional rights of the indigenous peoples at “Tkhsanom.”
RAIPON requests that you write letters of protest to the Russian President and to other federal and regional officials to make them aware that the international community is following this issue and that it wishes to see the constitutional and legal rights of the indigenous peoples of the Koryak Autonomous Region observed. We have provided names and addresses of these officials at the end of this message. -- Thank you for your support!
Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
President of the Russian Federation
Staraya Ploshchad, d. 4
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
The indigenous peoples of Tkhsanom write you to request a repeal of an executive order issued on March 14, 2001 by Vladimir A. Loginov, Governor of the Koryak Autonomous Region that closed our traditional nature use area in Tigilskiy Raion of the Koryak Autonomous Region of the Russian Federation.
We further request that the rule of law be reestablished in the Koryak Autonomous Region and that the constitutional rights of the indigenous peoples of our region be respected.
On March 14, 2001, Vladimir A. Loginov, governor of the Koryak Autonomous Region, signed an executive order entitled "Repeal of an Executive Order of the Governor of the Koryak Autonomous Region, No. 317, dated December 2, 1998, entitled "Organising the Territory of Traditional Nature Use Tkhsanom in Tigilskiy Raion of the Koryak Autonomous Region."
This action is a flagrant violation of the constitutional rights - Articles 69 and 72.1M - of the indigenous peoples who live within the Tkhsanom.
The Tkhsanom traditional use area was created on December 2, 1998 through an executive order issued by former governor, V. T. Bronevich. The legal motivation for this action is a Russian Federation Presidential Directive issued on April 22, 1992 entitled "Immediate Measures for Protecting Areas where Indigenous Peoples of the North Live and Work." This Directive served as a basis for a law "On Territories of Traditional Nature Use (TTP) in the Koryak Autonomous Region." The effort to create Tkhsanom was led by the Council of Indigenous Elders of the villages of Kovran, Ust'-Khairyuzovo, Khairyuzovo. On November 27, 1998, an executive order issued by the administration of Tigilskiy Raion, No. 136, called for creation of the Tkhsanom traditional nature use area.
The Tkhsanom traditional nature use area is the historical homeland of nearly one thousand native peoples, including the world's only large settlement of Itelmen people, an ancient people of Kamchatka now threatened with extinction.
Tkhsanom is the culmination of an effort by the region's indigenous communities to legally define the boundaries for its traditional use areas. Scientists from Moscow State University and from the Kamchatka Institute of Natural Resources and Ecology worked with local people to create the ethno-ecological and economic rational for Tkhsanom. A biodiversity assessment was carried out and indigenous peoples directed a multi-year process to set an agenda of projects to help local communities develop economic and cultural survival programs.
The protocol describing the functions of Tkhsanom is a unique document. That document provides for the pursuit of traditional economic activities. It also charge the Itelmen and Koryak peoples with the responsibility to carry out environmental protection and rational natural use measures within Tkhsanom. The protocol is based on Russian Federation Constitutional provisions and on current federal enactments, including the Forest Code, Land Code, Land Payment Code, Continental Shelf Law, Animal Kingdom Law, and Protected Territories Law whose articles specifically stipulate the rights of indigenous peoples to traditional natural resources. The protocol anticipated federal laws "On Guarantees of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation" and "On the General Principles for Indigenous Communities ("Obshchina") of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. These recently adopted federal laws give indigenous peoples the right to participate in the preparation and adoption of measures to defend their native lands. They also require that both federal and regional environmental protection laws be implemented, and provide indigenous peoples with the right to self-determination.
In pursuit of these directives, Tkhsanom has created an environmental protection system that includes its own inspectors. An ethno-ecology center has opened that conducts ecology and ethnographic programs. An information center has been established. And despite desperate economic conditions, self-awareness has improved as people take responsibility for the management of the lands within Tkhsanom. The experience gained in establishing Tkhsanom is being disseminated through seminars, conferences and in the press, an effort supported by many national and international NGOs.
The current administration of the Koryak Autonomous Region fails to appreciate these positive steps toward self-determination and refuses to support or assist the dissemination of the lessons learned. The protest made by B. Chuev, acting Prosecutor in the region, and which serves as the basis for governor Loginov's executive order, ignores direct action norms in the law "On Guarantees of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation," and specifically, Article 8, Point 1 of this law.
Governor Loginov's executive order of March 14, 2001 undermines the legal basis for the economic and environmental protection activities of Tkhsanom. It shakes regional belief in any intention by the current governor to respect the rights of indigenous peoples as required by the Constitution and Federal law. His executive order was issued without the knowledge or participation of indigenous representatives or their Council of Indigenous Elders, a flagrant violation of Article 8 of the law "On Guarantees of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation" and other federal laws.
We request that Governor Loginov's executive order be repealed. We demand that rule of law be reestablished and that government agencies cooperate with indigenous NGOs, including the Council for Itelmen Revival, to guarantee the constitutional rights of the region's indigenous peoples.
Itelmen Indigenous Council "Tkhsanom"
Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East - RAIPON
Participants in the Seminar
Federal Rights Legislation for Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation and How to Use Those Rights
Delegates and Guests of the IV Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East
Ministry of Justice
Russian Far East
Koryak Autonomous Region
Koryak Autonomous Region
The indigenous peoples of the Tkhsanom traditional nature use area in the Koryak Autonomous Region of the Russian Federation make this appeal in compliance with Article 33 of the Russian Constitution specifying the right of Russian citizens to both individually and collectively appeal to government agencies and to municipal management bodies.
This appeal is being distributed to indigenous, human rights and environmental protection organisations both within Russia and around the world.