English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 11-12, 2002

Chronicle of court cases of the Public Legal Center Rodnik

O. Yakovleva and E. Khmeleva

The case concerning an appeal related to the Territory of Traditional Nature Use for indigenous peoples “Thsanom” lodged against the refusal by the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development and Commerce

On 3 December the Presnensk Court in Moscow deliberated a case, the first of its type in Russia, pertaining to the refusal of the Russian Federation to form a territory for traditional nature use for indigenous peoples. It refused to respond to the appeal lodged.

The results of this case are not just a coincidence. In all the actions undertaken by the federal government there is an evident lack of desire to establish territories for indigenous peoples. The main arguments put forth by the Government are the necessity to amend the legislation (Land Codex and other laws) and the need to work on a multitude of standardization acts. These tactics delay the process of establishing Territories of Traditional Nature Use on a long-term basis. There is no doubt as to the dependency of the Court on the policy adhered to by the Government.

The lawyers of Rodnik prepared and lodged an appeal on the illegal decision handed down by the Court. In our subsequent publications, we shall inform readers about the results of the appeal.

The case concerning prohibition of operations endangering the environment in the future (protection of gray whales)

On 16 May 2002 the Presnensk Court in Moscow handed down a decision refusing to respond to the appeal lodged. The lawyers of Rodnik appealed this case.

At present, the Presnensk Court is creating obstacles for the plaintiffs to appeal the decision in the annulment case. The refusal to accept the appeal “due to the lapse of time to lodge an appeal” is purely fictional and is refuted by documents included among the material in the case. The annulment appeal was returned to the applicants without an explanation for the refusal, but with an accompanying letter by the judge. Because such a letter is not a procedural document subject to an appeal in an annulment case, the court has deprived citizens of the opportunity to appeal its refusal.

The plaintiffs in this case, along with environmental organizations, activists and RAIPON, are presenting themselves as well as numerous societies and representatives of indigenous peoples from different regions.

The case of the appeal by citizens and NGOs concerning the refusal of the federal government, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the foreign oil extraction company Sakhalin Energy to come forth with information pertaining to the constitutional rights of citizens to a favorable environment

The appeal to refuse information by the federal government, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the foreign oil extraction company Sakhalin Energy was submitted to the Presnensk Court in Moscow. By his ruling, the judge of the Presnensk Court refused to accept the appeal for examination. An appeal was lodged against this ruling.

On 12 July 2002, by a ruling of the annulment case, a private appeal by lawyers of Rodnik was given satisfaction, the ruling was repealed and the appeal was forwarded for examination to the point to the court of first instance.

The date for examining the appeal on annulment for not providing information to the Presnensk Court has yet not been set.

On 10 September 2002, by the ruling handed down by the federal judge of the Presnensk Court, this appeal has not progressed forward at all and has obligated the applicants to remove the technical flaws. The technical flaws enumerated in this ruling are imaginary and the demands put forth by the judges are not in accordance with the standards (GPK) of the Russian Federation. Once again this confirms the unwillingness of the court to examine a case in which the defendants are highly-placed governmental bodies.

The applicants for this case include, among others, RAIPON and numerous associations and representatives of indigenous minorities from different regions.