First indigenous foreign agents in Barents

Former leader of Yasavey Aleksandr Belugin (left) and the new leader Vladislav Peskov together on the Nenets tundra.

The Nenets organization Yasavey Manzara is the first indigenous peoples´ organization in the Barents Region to be declared as “foreign agents”.


“This is very bad for the international cooperation amongst indigenous peoples in the Barents Region, and gives reason for concern for the civilian society in Russia,” says Adviser on indigenous issues in the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, Anja Salo.

The organization was put on the foreign agent list on Wednesday by the Arkhangelsk and Nenets department of the Ministry of Justice, website NAO24 reports. “Facts of this organization being a non-commercial organization acting as a foreign agent were established during a random control of documents,” the department writes in a press release.

According to Anja Salo, the organization will now cease all activities. “To continue working while branded as “foreign agent” will simply be impossible, as it requires administrational resources Yasavey Manzara does not have.”

Yasavey Manzara was established in 2003 as a branch of the Nenets association Yasavey, and has been involved in international cooperation projects supported by Russia and the three other Barents countries – the most influential ones being Nenets Radio and Indigee – Indigenous Entrepreneurship.

 “Both projects have been great successes,” Anja Salo says to BarentsObserver. “Indigee has been praised both by Russian authorities and the local communities in the Nenets region. It has shown young people that it sis possible to make a living out of traditional knowledge.”

Anja Kristine Salo is Adviser on indigenous issues in the Norwegian Barents Secretariat. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Establishment of a radio station broadcasting in Nenets language was initiated by the Working Group of Indigenous People of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region and implemented as a joint Russian-Norwegian-Canadian project. The radio has led to a revitalization of the Nenets language.