Life in the village today

Vladimir Vladimirovich Kovavna
village Khaylino, Olyutorskiy District, Koryak Auton. Okrug

Where have we gone? The population has shrunk from 1500 people in 1985 to 875 in 2002. The main reason for the decrease is the emigration of the population to the “mainland” due to poor living conditions for the indigenous inhabitants as the result of a recession in production. Because of this there is a high unemployment (125 persons), drunkenness, and a high mortality rate. In the beginning of the 1980s, the number of reindeer amounted to 15,800, the production of venison amounted to 5000 t, and 150 persons were employed in agricultural production, 12 of these in reindeer breeding. Other livestock included 200 head of cattle and 300 pigs, as well as 1500 poultry.

Today, the number of reindeer is 2000 and there are 18 cattle, of which 9 are cows. 18 people are occupied in agriculture, 15 of these with reindeer breeding. Reindeer have not been slaughtered for 4 years in a row. We receive almost no salary. With the number of reindeer not currently increasing and decent payment nowhere in sight, it is difficult to attract people to reindeer breeding. The people, especially former herders, have forgotten how to work, or rather don’t want to. For them it is easier, and very cost-effective, to sell raw fish roe to the merchants and receive small unemployment benefits during the winter. And so it stays from one year to the next. On the river, and everywhere else, chaos reigns; there are many merchants and newcomers. Because of the roe business, lots of fish are thrown back into the river and onto the shore, and much is dug down in the earth. Hunting areas are assigned to representatives of the non-indigenous population because only they can pay for the licence and for the permit to bear weapons.

The villagers are very worried about the education of their children. We have no teachers for mathematics for the older classes, and therefore our pupils cannot qualify for higher educational institutions. The former head of the village administration sold the facilities which were reserved for the teachers. If anyone would like to start to work at school, there would be no place to live. The hospital does not have even the most necessary medicines; many people are suffering from tuberculosis. There is no possibility to bring the sick to the district’s hospital for medical examinations.

From the beginning of the 1990s, the company ZAO Koryakgeoldobycha has been extracting platinum on our territory. Neither a villagers’ assembly nor a referendum was carried out with the native population about the conditions of this work. Agreements about the enforcement of the work in our district were only made between the district’s and the okrug’s administrations, and ZAO Koryakgeoldobycha. In 2000, I collected signatures against the platinum extraction, but the head of the local administration tried to talk himself out of it. He said that nothing could be achieved against such enterprises like ZAO.

Now, taking courses at the Russian Indigenous Training Center, I have become convinced of the opposite. It is possible to use the legislative acts for our benefit and to enlist the support of concerned organisations.