Russia’s small ethnic group reps stopped from attending UN conference


  Valentina Sovkina

There are reports that Russian nationals due to attend the UN Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York have been prevented from leaving the country. . These come days after Nadir Bekir, a Crimean Tatar scholar also planning to attend the conference was attacked by 4 men who took only his passport and mobile telephone. 

Rodion Sulyandziga from a Centre supporting indigenous small ethnic groups of the North, told Vedomosti that on Sept 18 his passport was taken away.  He himself writes that it was taken away by an FSB officer. He was then told that a page was missing and an administrative case was initiated, accusing him of a border infringement. The next day Anna Naikanchyna had a similar experience. In her case several pages of her passport were slit.

Sulyandziga says that there were several other such incidents. He suggests that the reason may be a conflict of interests between the indigenous peoples of the North and those wishing to develop oil-digging in the Arctic.  At the conference he was due to chair a roundtable on the development of the Artic and use of its natural resources.

Valentina Sovkina, speaker of the Saam parliament, was also stopped from getting to the conference.  She explains that first the tyres of her car were all pierced, then they got stopped by traffic police who claimed that they needed to check everybody’s identify because the car was registered as having been stolen.  When that didn’t wash, a young man ran up and tried to grab her bag. In the process she was thrown to the ground.  When her driver ran to help her and caught the man, the traffic police intervened, seizing the driver, not the assailant. 

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