2017.04 IWGIA. Indigenous World 2017. Russian Federation

The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs Yearbook. April 2017.


  • Olga Murashko is a Russian anthropologist and one of the co-founders of the former IWGIA Moscow. She works as a consultant for the Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN).
  • Johannes Rohr is a German historian who has been working with indigenous peoples’ organisations in Russia since 1995, focusing on their economic, social and cultural rights. He is currently working as a consultant for IWGIA and INFOE. 

Of the more than 180 peoples inhabiting the territory of contemporary Russia, 40 are officially recognised as “indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East”. These are groups of less than 50,000 members, perpetuating some aspects of their traditional ways of life and inhabiting the Northern and Asian parts of the country. One more group is actively pursuing recognition, which it continues to be denied. Together, they number about 260,000 individuals, less than 0.2 per cent of Russia’s population. Ethnic Russians account for 78 per cent. Other peoples, such as the five million Tatars, are not officially considered indigenous peoples, and their self-identification varies.

The latest official population figures from the 2010 national census do not provide disaggregated data on the socio-economic status of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are predominantly rural dwellers while Russia is, on the whole, a highly urbanised country.

Indigenous peoples are not recognised by Russian legislation as such; however, the constitution and national legislation set out the rights of “indigenous minority peoples of the North”, including rights to consultation and participation in specific cases. There is, however, no such concept as “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” enshrined in legislation. Russia has not ratified ILO Convention 169 and has not endorsed the UNDRIP. The country has inherited its membership of the major UN Covenants and Conventions from the Soviet Union: the ICCPR, ICESCR, ICERD, ICEDAW and ICRC. It also has ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) of the Council of Europe.

There is a multitude of regional, local and interregional indigenous organisations. RAIPON, the national umbrella organisation, operates under tight state control.

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