Hard-fought new life for RAIPON

RAIPON President Sergey Kharyuchi has overcome the biggest crisis in his organization's 20-year history. Photo:

Having battled for its survival for months, Russia’s indigenous peoples’ organization gets the necessary life support from Moscow.


The federal Ministry of Justice has approved the amendments in our organization’s statutes, RAIPON informs in a press release. With the new statutes registered, the umbrella organization, which represents more than 40 indigenous groups in the Russian Arctic and Far East, can continue it activities.

“There have been difficulties, however with the help from regional authorities and our members in the State Duma, we have managed to resolve the issues”, RAIPON President Sergey Kharyuchi says.

As reported by BarentsObserver, RAIPON in early November 2012 got the message from the Ministry of Justice that it had to close down following irregularities in its organizational statutes. The message stirred harsh reactions not only from Russian indigenous peoples’ representatives, but also from the international community.

In a joint statement, the members of the Arctic Council later the same month expressed major concern about the situation. Similarly, in a meeting in the Barents Regional Council, Aili Kesketalo, the leading Sami politician from Norway, said that she was “shocked” about the decision to close RAIPON and that it was “challenging the very foundation for international cooperation between indigenous peoples”

First Vice President of RAIPON, Rodion Sulyaudziga, himself called the Ministry’s closure of the organization “ill-judged and illegal”. In a newspaper interview, Sulyaudziga argued that the indigenous peoples increasingly are seen by federal authorities as a troublesome element in Arctic developments. “There is an extensive hike in the level of industrialization in the north, and the indigenous peoples are among the last barriers against the companies’ and state’s development of the resources”, he said. He also said that the authorities strongly dislike RAIPON’s extensive international engagement.

RAIPON is represented is the Arctic Council, where it has status as a permanent participant and is also involved in several indigenous peoples bodies in the UN. Addressing the organization’s international partners, Sulyaudziga in an open letter expresses his “deepest gratitude to all those who have been with us during these difficult days and months, who have expressed solidarity and civic engagement, who have been able to understand and have climbed with us to new heights, who did not keep silent and did not turn their backs”.

Commenting on the positive decision of the Justice Ministry, member of the State Duma and representative of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Grigory Ledkov, says that “the role of the indigenous peoples will continue to grow in importance following Russia’s strategic plans in the Arctic” and that “the interests of these peoples must he taken into account”.

RAIPON can now continue to plan its Congress due to take place on the 28-29th of March in Salekhard. The meeting will devote special attention to the relations between regional and federal interests in the development of Russian indigenous peoples’ affairs, RAIPON’s website informs.