Autumn 2004

About legislative activities of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation  

edited by G. Diachkova from material presented by M. Appolon

We received a letter from Maria Nikolaevna Appolon, a member of the tribal community “Agya”, Koryakskiy Autonomous Okrug. She tells us about the goal of the establishing a community to protect indigenous peoples’ legal rights to lead their traditional way of life, preserve their culture, customs and traditions. She also asks us a question that certainly would be of interest to many. It concerns the practice of allocating quotas and licenses for personal and large-scale fishing and fur animal hunting, cooperation between indigenous peoples’ organisations and local authorities to establish social programs to fight unemployment and alcoholism, and to help young mothers, families with many children, and retired people. The questions raised in the letter are urgent and complex, so we ask our readers to tell us how they solve them in their regions and villages. We, in turn, tell you about the experience of indigenous peoples I terms of legislative and other activities in the Russian Federation .

Taking into account peculiarities of indigenous peoples’ way of life, the Constitution of the Russian Federation singles these people out as a separate group and guarantees their rights in accordance with international legal regulations. The Russian legislation contains general regulations concerning the establishing of election districts in the areas of compact residence of the indigenous peoples with a necessary turnout of 30 %. There are also quota regulations for the election of representatives to legislative bodies of the regions of the Russian Federation and representative institutions of local self-government. There are regulations of rights of authorised representatives of indigenous peoples and their organisations to participate in decision-making processes concerning rights and interests of indigenous peoples, and of their right to control the fulfilment of such decisions.

It is known that RAIPON participates in discussing federal draft laws relating to the indigenous peoples of the North. The quotas for representatives are established for indigenous peoples to take part in regional politics in Russian: in election committees (Yamalo-Nenetskiy Autonomous Okrug), in legislative institutions ( Republic of Buryatia , Nenetskiy, Khanty-Mansiyskiy and Yamalo-Nenetskiy autonomous okrugs). There are special bodies at the regional parliaments (Duma): Assembly of representatives of northern indigenous peoples (Khanty-Mansiyskiy Autonomous Okrug), Standing Commission on affairs of Nenets and other northern indigenous peoples (Nenetskiy Autonomous Okrug), Representative of the indigenous peoples of the North (Sakhalinskaya Oblast). Indigenous peoples’ organisations of Sakhalinskaya and Kemerov­skaya oblasts, as well as Chukotskiy, Koryakskiy, Nenetskiy and Evenkiyskiy autonomous okrugs, have the right to forward legislative initiatives. In the Chukotskiy Autonomous Okrug, councils of indigenous peoples’ representatives were established at the okrug government, regional and municipal executive bodies to consolidate cooperation between the indigenous peoples and the government.

Despite RAIPON’s participation in the political sphere both in Russia and abroad, the indigenous peoples’ contribution to solving many vitally important questions is still very small both at the regional and local levels. This results from the lack of mechanisms to involve indigenous peoples in controlling of the observance of laws relating to themselves, as well as the lack of juridical knowledge among the indigenous peoples. The latter was proven by several research works, for example, those conducted in the Chukotskiy Autonomous Okrug in 2002. Therefore it is necessary to hold various seminars and workshops devoted to enable indigenous peoples to solve their problems together with the authorities.

During a workshop held in Moscow in 2003, various issues of parliamentarism were discussed, and the following recommendations for the regions of the Russian Federation were elaborated:

There are many problems to be solved urgently. It is therefore important that already existing experience and recommendations are use to establish certain mechanisms for realizing the rights and ideas of the indigenous peoples.

Maria Nikolaevna Appolon
Sovetskaya str., 42-6, Ossora village, 688700
Karaginskiy Rayon, Koryakskiy Autonomous Okrug
Phone: 47-3-48

The Editors ask the readers to respond and share their experience in dealing with the various problems.

See also: Participation of Indigenous Peoples in Political Life of Circumpolar Countries. In: Collected Papers of the International Workshop “Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East , and the System of Parliamentarism in the Russian Federation : Reality and Perspectives”. March, 12-13, 2003, Moscow .