Situation report from the Evenk Autonomous Okrug

N. Kaplin, Vice-President of RAIPON

A critical socio-economic situation has developed in the Okrug. During the period from 1995 to 2002, according to information from A.I. Pankagir, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Evenk Autonomous Okrug (EAO), the number of the indigenous inhabitants of the Okrug has been reduced to 42 %.

People hunt mainly in spring for food and subsistence of the families. Due to the lack of employment opportunities in the trading centres – in places where the indigenous population is concentrated – the people cannot settle down with seasonal or periodical work. Furthermore they cannot realise their rights with respect to territories of traditional nature use. Out of this a simple conclusion can be made: There are today no land rights for the indigenous peoples of the North – that means no rights to live.

At present, in the indigenous communities of the Baykitsk Rayon – already earlier this year neglected when a few oilrigs were set up – an oil refinery has been installed. The company continues to build pipelines and roads, destroying indigenous people’s sacred sites and burial places, and preventing communities from pursuing traditional occupations. As a result, the members of the ruined communities are forced to settle in the trading centres, where they are condemned to unemployment, poverty, deprivation of their civil rights, tuberculosis, alcoholism, suicide, and in the end – extinction. Well-known media have already written about this, among them the British newspaper Guardian, the Dutch Handelsblat, and the Russian Kommersant.

The Association of the Baykitsk Rayon of the EAO has addressed the federal and regional authorities without achieving any solution for the indigenous inhabitants.