English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 14, 2004

Opinion of a Kamchatkan representative about the problem of TTNUs
Report on the new draft federal law on TTNUs to the roundtable of the Federation Council’s Committee on Northern and Minority Affairs

Evgeniy Slobodchikov, Member of the Committee on Liaison and Interaction of the Kamchatkan Region and KAO, the Council of Peoples’ Deputies of the Kamchatkan Region, and the Association of Indigenous Peoples, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy

Dear organisers!

Esteemed participants of the roundtable!

Less than two years have passed since the adoption of Federal law # 49-FZ on Territories of Traditional Nature Use (TTNU) on 7 May 2001 and it is already approaching the stage of abolition.

A new draft proposal for the Federal law on TTNUs, the variant of the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade, dated 11 November 2003 , is put forward. At present, Territories of Traditional Nature Use have become a key issue for indigenous peoples, the basis for the solution of economic problems and realisation of the legitimate right to a traditional lifestyle. In the process of implementation of the still effective law, discrepancies between Federal and regional laws on indigenous peoples of the North (IPN) were immediately perceptible.

The law on TTNUs has no mechanism for implementation since it envisages the adoption of a legally binding ordinance in the form of an enactment issued by the RF Government approving the statute of Territories of Traditional Nature Use.

So, since there is no statute it is out of the question to establish any TTNU.

Even if regional authorities venture to establish TTNUs, such actions are at variance with federal laws. The Governor of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug (KAO) organised the “Tkhsanom” TTNU in the Tigilskiy District of the KAO by his Enactment # 317 dated 2 December 1998, but this enactment was revoked following the protest of the procurator’s office on the basis of the fact that lands of federal jurisdiction had been included in the Territory.

The “Tkhsanom” TTNU, as a matter of fact, is the first harbinger in Kamchatka ; it meets all the requirements for the establishment of a TTNU.

Let us imagine for a moment the following situation. A small native village in the north of Kamchatka is neighbouring the ruins of enterprises from urban development. People were left without jobs, without means of subsistence. Hardly any of them would reach the pension age since the average age of a male natives is, approximately, 40 and that of a females is 45 years. Alcoholism, neurological disorder, hopelessness, uncertainty about tomorrow have practically foreordained the extinction of Kamchatkan indigenous peoples of the North. Hence, in a while, the problem of the so-called state care for them would be removed from the agenda. There are dozens of such villages there.

The establishment of a TTNU would make it possible to carry out traditional subsistence activities on traditional territories as an escape from the grave economic situation. Dozens of communities, whose territorial unions have been formed, but without the establishment of a TTNU they will exist on paper only.

Only two out of seven districts of the Kamchatkan Region (without KAO) were included in the “List of Districts Inhabited by Small-numbered Peoples of the North” approved by the RF Government’s Enactment # 22 of January 11, 1993 . This discrepancy is also one of the destabilising factors for the realisation of indigenous rights in the Kamchatkan Region. In spite of the above, according to archival and scientific documents indigenous peoples of the North used to reside on the whole territory of the Kamchatkan Region and KAO. Besides, it should be taken into account that the Unified List of Small-numbered Peoples of the North includes the ethnic group of Kamchadals. Aboriginal mentality should be known and taken into consideration; it should be understood that the main objective is to preserve and use renewable resources of the unique nature of Kamchatka . And who else if not the indigenous inhabitants as genuine children of nature would be vitally interested in the preservation of biodiversity of these inimitable landscapes?

Everything looks absolutely different in today’s reality. We are becoming social outcasts on our own land. It is appropriate to raise the question about discrimination of indigenous peoples. Analyzing Russian legislation on indigenous peoples one can come to the conclusion that it is unsystematic, contradictory and declaratory in form.

While the Association of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, our head organisation, has carried out a sizable effort to realise the provisions of the federal law on TTNUs, the RF Ministry of Economic Development has ventured to elaborate a new version of the federal law “On Territories of Traditional Nature Use of Small-numbered Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the RF”, thus, in fact, suspending the statute in force.

At present, the work is underway (D.N. Kozak’s Commission) to differentiate the subjects of control and authority between the bodies of federal and regional state as well as the bodies of local self-governance. This process may have a negative impact on the establishment of TTNUs. The introduction of different forms and types of public land property, including the potential TTNU, would pave the way to stockpiling formidable challenges.

Bearing in mind the great desire of indigenous peoples of the Kamchatkan Region and the KAO to set up TTNUs, we propose to hold potential territories of traditional nature use in reserve of public indigenous peoples’ associations, federal and regional bodies of state power, the bodies of local self-governance as well as to take them into account while delimiting the land property rights and carrying out land use measures.

It should be pointed out that the unwillingness of the Kamchatkan regional administration to establish TTNUs is explained by the fear of losing control over certain territories.

I have a written application addressed by the head of the Bystrinskiy District’s municipal unit to the Council of People’s Deputies of the Kamchatkan Region. Its bottom line is that indigenous people residing in the Bystrinskiy District, engaged in economic activities in their primordial lands, have found themselves within the borders of major industrial development in areas assigned to legal entities, thus being deprived of their right to hunt – about the only method of their survival, if anything at all.

The confrontation with the dominating population is felt quite acutely.

The Kamchatkan regional administration is abolishing fishing zones, although it is known well that traditional nature use, without making people accustomed with the achievements of scientific and technological progress, economically is able to provide only a very low living standard.

The downright counteraction of the extractive companies often manipulating the opinion of the majority of population is a fact of life.

With the advent of the new administration of the Kamchatkan Region the local Itelmen artel (team) “Tarya” was deprived of its fishing zones; it is being forced out from the assigned traditional hunting areas. They are driven out forcibly from the places of traditional nature use. These examples are not the only ones.

In September, hearings took place in Kamchatka with regard to the location of the Asachinsk gold ore deposits. During these hearings the indigenous public was faced with the fact of the already accomplished ecological expert evaluation. It happened, although considerable environmental damage is inevitable to both the local nature and breeding grounds. This issue is in unison with another one, sounding obviously like the issue of Territories of Traditional Nature Use.

We are willing to persuade the RF Government to revise its attitude towards indigenous peoples and to put aside its apprehension of strengthening their role concerning the rights of the Northern indigenous peoples. We object to the new version of the draft law on TTNUs, the variant of the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade dated 11 November 2003, and support the conclusion of RAIPON about basically accepting the Federal draft law “On Entering Amendments and Supplements to Federal Law # 49-FZ dated 7 May ‘On Territories of Traditional Nature …’”, submitted to the RF Government on 28 February 2003 by the head of the RF President’s administration. We also support the variant of the draft law prepared by RAIPON and propose to introduce corresponding amendments to the RF Land Code and the Federal Law “On the RF Agricultural Land Turnover”, also including reindeer pastures, as well as to elaborate corresponding enforceable enactments with regard to the system of establishment of TTNUs.