Just little over three months ago Russian authorities suspended the activities of RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East), a move which has been heavily criticized by other members of the Arctic Council. RAIPON’s suspension is a clear political act by the Russian government, dealing a significant blow to indigenous rights not only within the country, but worldwide.
This morning I woke up to the following article which outlines Russia’s Arctic Strategy until 2020, focusing heavily on increasing infrastructure, energy exploration and “national security”. I am sure I am not the only one who is deeply concerned about the fact that the indigenous people who were previously represented by RAIPON will now have no voice at all in discussions and negotiations surrounding such developments. Russia’s indigenous people are continuously faced by environmental disasters caused by oil spills and resource extraction that pollute their rivers and threaten their entire way of life, a situation which will only get worse with more intensive energy exploration. Furthermore, I don’t think it is a coincidence that this strategy has been announced just a couple of months after RAIPON’s suspension, a move to silence any opposition to the state’s plans.