Short report from the 4th Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the North,
Siberia, and the Far East

Galina Diachkova

On 12-13 April 2001, the 4th Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East in Moscow was held with 330 representatives of 30 regional groups taking part. President of RAIPON, S.N. Kharyuchi, gave a talk entitled “Our fate is in our hands”. He spoke of the situation of indigenous peoples, of cooperation with governmental organisations, the founding of unions of scientists and youth within RAIPON, and of the work of the coordination committee. He also discussed the main legislative problems concerning the rights of indigenous peoples, traditional nature use territories, and the Association's strategy until 2005.

Additional talks were given by the First Vice-Minister of Federal Matters, National and Migrational Politics of the Russian Federation, V. Kirpichnikov: “Russian governmental politics relating to indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East under modern conditions”; and by the Vice-President of the Duma, A.N. Chilingarov: “Development of the process of legislature – towards protection of the rights of indigenous peoples of the Russian North.”

During the Congress, the report of the auditing committee of the Association was heard, the statute was amended, and concluding documents of the Congress accepted. In addition, the president and the auditing committee were elected, the coordinating council confirmed, and a representative to the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples elected.

Over 60 talks were given during the Congress, the majority of them concerning ecological issues and the rights of indigenous peoples. Many offered suggestions for resolving problems. The main reason for the weak rights of minorities is seen as the absence of mechanisms for law enforcement.

A statement released by the Congress identified the main priorities for the future. These lie in the programme “Economical and social development of indigenous peoples of the North until 2001”, the release of a number of laws by the Russian Federation that regulate the activities of RAIPON, and the coordination of work and support of regional ethnical associations.

The Congress resolved to support a concept for development of the indigenous peoples of the North of the Russian Federation in the 21st century, presented by the Russian Academy of Science Institute for Problems of Indigenous Peoples of the North. In a delegation to the Federal Committee, a number of initiatives were introduced:

At the end of the congress, elections were held for the presidency of RAIPON. Among the three candidates were S.N. Kharyuchi and T.S. Gogoleva – head of the social organisation “Yugra Rescue”. S.N. Kharyuchi received the majority of votes and was re-elected. The elections for the UN Permanent Forum representative were tense, as M.A. Todyshev and P.V. Sulyandziga ran for the post. The latter won the election.

Many Northern folklore groups, from the Kola Peninsula to Chukotka, performed during the congress.