Russia orders shutdown of Arctic indigenous organization

A Nenets herdsman gathering his reindeer as they prepare to leave a site outside the town of Nadym, 3,800 km North-East of Moscow in Siberia. AFP PHOTO / TATYANA MAKEYEVA Moscow has ordered the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON) to shut down until until April 2013, the Barents Observer reports.

Russia’s Ministry of Justice says the statutes of RAIPON are not in line with federal law. The Barents Observer reports that Pavel Sulyandzigi, deputy leader of RAIPON, is planning to appeal the decision and will reach out to its international partners for help.

RAIPON First Vice-President Rodion Souliandziga says he considers the Justice ministry’s move a political one.

“Our charter has been in place for 22 years and we haven’t had any problem until now,” Souliandziga told AFP. “They’re trying to keep us quiet. They want to eliminate us.”

RAIPON was founded in 1990. The association’s website says it represents 250,000 people, representing 41 indigenous groups, in Russia’s North.

On Wednesday, the group posted an open letter on their website calling on Arctic Council members Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States to denouce the actions taken by fellow member Russia.

“RAIPON appeals to SAO of the Arctic Council to call upon the Russian government to stop administrative and political pressure and interfearence into self-governence of indigenous people of the North, Siberia and the Far East,” the statement says.

By Wednesday, the organization had put up letters of support on their website from groups such as the Arctic Alliance and the Centre of Northern People in Norway.

Related Links:

Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East (RAIPON)

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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