|BULLETIN # 36|
XVI group of interns
TABLE OF CONTENTS
a Plenipotentiary To Be or Not To Be?
|Is a Plenipotentiary To Be or Not To Be?||
The 11 State Duma
deputies who have submitted for consideration by parliament draft law
“On the Plenipotentiary of the Federal Assembly of the Russian
Federation for the Rights of the Peoples of the Russian Federation”
represent various regions and many ethnic groups.
They are: Aleksandr Tkachov and Aleksandr Burulko (Krasnodar
Territory), Valentin Nikitin and Ragib Gimayev (Bashkortostan), Kaadyr-ool
Bicheldey (Tyva), Svetlana Smirnova (Udmurtia), Aslambek Aslakhanov
(Chechnya), Sergey Budazhapov (Buryatia), Vladimir Kazakovtsev (Kirov
Oblast), Anatoliy Nikitin (Ryazan Oblast), and Valeriy Markov (Komi
we really so desperately need a plenipotentiary for the rights of the
peoples? The drafters of the
bill believe that the formation of a democratic, rule-of-law state
requires the creation of legal institutions for the protection of the
rights of its citizens, irrespective of their social, ethnic, religious,
and other affiliations. However,
one should not forget that several years ago the institution of
Plenipotentiary for Human Rights was established in Russia.
Would the two not be duplicating the work of each other? Oleg Orestovich Mironov, plenipotentiary for human rights in
the Russian Federation, when speaking at the parliamentary hearings
organized by the State Duma Ethnic Affairs Committee for the discussion of
the draft law, said that Russia needed strong legal structures to address
the ethnic question.
with a much smaller population than Russia, has three ombudsmen, one of
whom is responsible for the enforcement of the rights of ethnic
minorities, and we have none,” Mr. Mironov supported the bill.
“The latest population census  registered 172 ethnic
groups; in other words, people themselves claimed their ethnicity, and
thus the number of peoples amounted to 172.
It is not a secret that at times there are controversies and
differences between them; oftentimes, people are humiliated for the mere
fact that they speak their language and maintain the way of life
traditional for their people, and the would-be Plenipotentiary must deal
with such ethnically tinged conflicts.”
sphere of action for the official in Russia is vast,” Valentin Nikitin,
deputy chairman of the State Duma Ethnic Affairs Committee, said.
Grigoriy Vasilyevich Atamanchuk, Russian Federation Presidential
Public Service Academy department head, added that state power has been
the main culprit in all evils in this country, although violations often
occurred under the pretext of enforcing certain edicts.
law must take into account ethnic peculiarities,” Mr. Atamanchuk said.
“The Plenipotentiary might have these main responsibilities:
first, the analytical one: to monitor the state of ethnic processes in the
country; second, the informational one: inform the deputies about ethnic
development and interethnic relations in the country; and third, the
expert one: consider the question of how the laws affect the wellbeing of
many see no point in enacting this draft law.
State Duma Deputy Chairman Vladimir Zhirinovskiy believes that this
bill has an ideological tinge to it and in the first place is advantageous
for Western countries as the rights of ethnic minorities, like the human
rights, are not honored due to the country’s backwardness, and the West
will always be able to press the issue of human rights and ethnic rights
violations in Russia:
are being lured into a trap; we are being forced to spend more money on
ethnic minorities; no budget would withstand that.
We must find the right solution: in the economic plane, if the
economy allows us to raise the issue.”
the way, popular wisdom has been saying for centuries: “The pike is in
the pond for the carp to be alert” – problems need to be addressed,
the main obstacle preventing the passing of this draft law is its alleged
conflict with the Russian Constitution.
The Constitution does not provide for the post of Plenipotentiary
for the Rights of the Peoples; many articles in the draft law exceed the
margins set for federal laws. The
drafters of the bill clearly realize that. In the cover letter, they spell out why they think their
draft is not at odds with the Constitution.
The Constitution guarantees the rights of the peoples to preserve
their languages and ensures the rights of indigenous peoples.
Thus, the peoples of the Russian Federation have the right to
demand the creation of guarantees for the enforcement of their rights.
That, the drafters believe, means that power agencies have the
right, without amending the Constitution, to introduce the institution of
the Plenipotentiary for the Rights of the Peoples.
these explanations did not seem sufficient to the participants in the
hearings. The speakers were
suggesting their own ways to solve the legal issue.
Svetlana Pyatkina, Ph.D. in Law, turned to Article 103 of the
Constitution, which does not say that there may be only one
Plenipotentiary for Human Rights; consequently, there may be several, and
one would deal with the rights of the peoples.
Writer Boris Shalnev suggested establishing the post of Deputy
Plenipotentiary for Human Rights, who would monitor the honoring of ethnic
rights or begin establishing such an institution at the regional level.
by the first reading of the draft law in parliament, this problem will be
solved, and the State Duma and the Federation Council will pass the law,
and the President will sigh it, and thus another barrier will prevent the
humiliation of people for the mere fact of speaking a different language.
a representative of an indigenous nation, I was perplexed by one
circumstance. One of the
speakers at the hearings mentioned that the concept “ethnic question”
is somewhat outdated and today we need to speak about ethno-cultural
problems in the country. This
is somewhat unclear to me: that appears to mean that I may speak my native
tongue, dance the quadrille, sing the songs of my people only in a dark
cellar, as far as possible from the bright sitting room, from the
“white” people. The
sitting room is for serious, important talk, where policy is made, and you
should not bother the people there with your ethnic culture.
If that is the speaker’s personal opinion, let it weigh on his
conscience. Yet, if he expressed the attitudes of the executive branch,
one should be concerned that ethnic problems are degraded to
ethno-cultural. Moving in
that direction is devoid of prospects, to say the least.
We Have Nowhere To Flee to From Our Land
Territory is a territory whose Administration does not give a damn about
the problems of indigenous peoples, federal laws, and international
practices concerning indigenous peoples.
1999, the aboriginal population of the Amur lost its last bastions:
fishing providing jobs and annuity fish for the indigenes residing in
the fall of 1999, the right to fish for chum was given to the Territorial
Union of Fishing Collective Farms (350 tonnes), MUP Komsomolskryba (10
tonnes), the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (10 tonnes), scientific research (75
tonnes), license fishing (45 tonnes), etc.
What kind of scientific research requires 75 tonnes of fish?
If science goes at that rate studying the fall salmon, a few years
from now there will be nothing to study.
facto, everybody received fall chum, except the indigenous population.
The Fishing Council of the Khabarovsk Territory Administration,
represented by V. Sidorenko, is responsible for this distribution, thus
putting the blame for the depletion of salmon in the Amur on the Amur
aborigines. They have become
the scapegoats and are left without their ethnic food, and the ethnic
enterprises and communities, without jobs and means of sustenance.
NGOs/Associations from Komsomolsk, Amur District, Khabarovsk, and
Komsomolskiy District have sent a letter to State Duma Deputy N.
Kamyshinskiy, Territory Governor V. Ishayev, and to the Territorial Duma
to defend their priority right to their resources. Pursuant to Decree # 68 of the Head of the Administration of
the Territory “On license fishing for ordinary fish and other valuable
breeds of fish in Khabarovsk Territory reservoirs,” dated February 26,
1992, licenses shall be given to indigenous peoples in the established
procedure free of charge. Representatives
of indigenous peoples of the North have the preferential right to acquire
the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the Amur Basin will
do all it can for the indigenous, socially vulnerable population to have a
possibility to obtain its ethnic food.
We have nowhere to flee to from our land – we will stay here, on
the Amur, anyway.
From the ANDA
bulletin of the nongovernmental
Taimyr Indigenous Inhabitants
indigenous peoples of the North inhabit Taimyr, three of them are small in
number: the Nganasan, the Enets, and the Evenk.
All over Taimyr, the Enets number about 210 persons, and the
Nganasan, from 100 to 150 or maybe even fewer.
More numerous are the Dolgan and the Nenets, for which reason the
okrug [area, district, region, or territory] was named the Taimyr
(Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous Okrug. The
Dolgan live in its eastern portion, where the Khatanga River flows, in
Khatanga District. The Nenets
live in its western portion, at the mouth of the Yenisey, in
I want to dwell on the topic of the inhabitants of Ust-Yeniseyskiy District, living on fishing stations and tundra pastures. Since time immemorial, the Nenets have been practicing their traditional crafts: ivory and wood carving and beadwork. Their main occupations are fishing, reindeer herding, and hunting. Women do handicraft: sewing, beadwork, and embroidering and mending of fur clothes. In the tundra, the main burden weighs on women’s shoulders: putting up the chum [tepee], making the fire, cooking, and bringing up the kids. Since time immemorial, the older generation hands down its skills and teaches life to young people, who are only beginning independent life. The maturing generation learns from older people and assimilates the skills of the elders. The life of reindeer herders in the tundra is very hard and difficult. Herding the reindeer, they keep moving to new pastures to fatten them – and they do so every winter and every summer. The reindeer herder Nenets simply cannot do without the nomadic way of life as the reindeer is the meaning of life: it gives clothing and food and is a means of transportation. The problems that the northerners face and that affect their lives are financial and medical assistance and indifference of administrative officials. The inhabitants of fishing stations and villages support themselves by selling or bartering their products. They can pay with fish for many commodities, including gasoline and even Buran snowmobiles. Buran is the only means of transportation for the fishermen. They drive it to go fishing and to travel long distances and to neighboring villages.
year, fortune, represented by the Norilsk-Gazprom Open Joint-Stock
Company, a large corporation, smiled to all the inhabitants of the
district. An interested
stockholder, who understands people’s needs, held out a helping hand to
those who need help. The
stockholder’s name is Sergey Mikhaylovich Sokol; he is the general
director of the Norilsk-Gazprom Open Joint-Stock Company.
Other joint-stock companies, such as the Norilsk Mining Company and
Norilsk Nickel, follow suit. The
people approve Sergey Mikhaylovich Sokol’s deeds and decisions and
accept the assistance that he provides.
Let there be more people like S.M. Sokol.
I wish him success in everything and, most importantly, good
Inga Tapkina (Nenets),
We Have Already Dealt With Ethnicity-free Provinces before the 1917 Revolution
October of 2000, the Komi Nation convened for its sixth congress in 10
years. The delegates
discussed the socioeconomic and the environmental situation in the
republic and the problems of the development of the language, culture, and
mass media. A heated
discussion occurred in the section on political and legal issues.
That is understandable: in the year that has passed after the
election of the new president, many things have changed in the country.
The establishment of federal districts gave rise to rumors about
the change of the administrative-territorial division of the country.
Naturally, the peoples living in Russia, including the Komi, have a
cautious attitude toward such plans, and the delegates desired to reflect
their attitude in the resolution of the congress. Yes, there is talk to
the effect, but the President has not said a work about eventual change in
the priorities in ethnic policy; no amendments to the Constitution of
Russia are promoted. After an
analysis and a lively discussion over language, the congress pronounced in
the resolution its support to a stronger power structure, which, however,
should in no way infringe on the interests of the peoples.
delegates had already become somewhat tired when at the end of the second
day of the congress Ms. Valentina Semyashkina, chairperson of the Pechora
Salvation Committee, took the floor and reminded the audience that the
year 2000 marks the end of the moratorium on the construction of nuclear
power plants. Some 10 years
earlier, the inhabitants of the republic had already spoken out against
the construction of an NPP on the Udora, and the information about the
possible construction of such a plant shocked the delegates to a degree.
They addressed the head of the republic with a suggestion to appeal
to federal power agencies to extend the moratorium.
The Door Is Open - We Need To Enter
Third Universal Congress of Finnish-Ugric Peoples took place on December
11-13, 2000, in Helsinki. More than 600 delegates took part in the work of the forum.
Valeriy Petrovich Markov, Russian Federation State Duma deputy from
the Komi Republic and chairman of the Executive Committee of the Congress
of the Komi Nation, was elected to head the Consultative Committee of the
Finnish-Ugric Peoples for a third time.
A Komiinform agency correspondent talked to him.
do you assess the congress?”
was good enough, well-organized. The
Finnish hosts deserve kudos for that.
The presence of the presidents of Finland, Hungary, and Estonia and
the greeting from Russian President Vladimir Putin have shown that
Finnish-Ugric countries show very much interest in the congress.
And the interest is not hollow; the participation of the
representatives of power structures speaks about the fact that they give
its dues to the congress and our programs.
First Congress, which took place in 1992 in Syktyvkar, was mostly
emotional: for the first time over the past 1,000 years the Finnish-Ugric
peoples convened and looked at each other.
The Second Congress in 1996 in Budapest made it necessary to define
more concrete tasks, taking into account the potentials of our countries
was the Third Congress that had to provide the answer of how prepared we
are to implement the goals and objectives.
And the Congress did provide the answers to these questions.
The delegates had numerous new proposals.
In particular, on organizing a roundtable of parliamentarians to
share the experience of legislative work.
In four years, the International Decade of Indigenous Peoples of
the World comes to an end, and we think that it would be interesting to
organize a decade of Finnish-Ugric peoples; this way it will be easier to
count on support in the implementation of specific activities.”
the policy of the Russian government toward Finnish-Ugric peoples changed
is home to 18 Finnish-Ugric peoples, but over the past eight years we have
failed to achieve that a targeted federal program aimed at the development
of these peoples be adopted. Today, there are more than 200 such programs in the country,
and only about 70 are expected to remain, and in these conditions it is
very difficult to push through something new.
Nonetheless, we keep talking about our program.
The participation of an official Russian delegation in the work of
the congress alone shows that they at least began turning an attentive ear
to our problems. Thus, there
are changes for the better.”
what are the prospects of the Finnish-Ugric community itself?”
Presidents gave a high enough evaluation to the First Congress, held in
Syktyvkar, which laid the groundwork for direct interaction among the
peoples and gave a boost to interstate and interregional contacts.
We need to maximally use the additional channel of strengthening
cooperation among Finnish-Ugric peoples.
This is only the beginning: the door is ajar, and now we need to
enter and say the right words and achieve understanding.”
do you see the place of the Komi Republic in the community of
legislation, no other region in Russia has done so much as the Komi
Republic. We would like that
to be a common phenomenon for all the regions.
Komi could be made the youth or some other center of the
Finnish-Ugric world, but we have always strived for all the regions to be
a part of joint work and would not pull the blanket toward themselves.
At the same time, we have never wanted to go with the flow.
I think that we will continue sticking to this policy also in the
future. Notably, words of
appreciation sounded more than once in Helsinki thanking the Komi Republic
for that First Congress, for the beginning of Finnish-Ugric joint
is an island in the Chaunskaya Guba bay [East Siberian Sea].
The pioneer Nikita Shalaurov, the first outsider to visit the
island, called it Zavaley. Ferdinand
P. Wrangel in 1821 confirmed this name in the form of Sabodey.
Priest Argentov in 1857 found out that the local inhabitants called
the island Ayon. This word
can be explained in two ways: (a) ayo, brain, probably because the
island’s relief resembles it; (b) eyu, ayo, come to life, place
of revival. The latter explanation is reasonable as the island is rich in
summer pastures and serves as a good place of rest and fattening for
reindeer, in other words, revival of the reindeer driven there from winter
pastures in the taiga zone with its bloodsucking insects and gadflies.
1933, collectivization was being conducted in our district, and it was
then that Red Yaranga [reindeer hides tepee] worker Taroyev organized the
Enmitagino Association and the herds were handed over to the state, that
is the association.
1950, the association was transformed into a collective farm, and Taroyev
continued as its director.
1955, Grigoriy Mikhaylovich Inanto, born to a farm hand in Valkarkay, was
elected chairman of the executive committee of the Elvuney Rural Soviet.
In 1957, Mikhail Ivanovich Vitulgin headed the Rural Soviet, as
Inanto had become a career Communist Party organizer.
The communists were not numerous, but they always tried to be among
the best in both work and community life.
The Enmitagino Collective Farm had about 10,000 reindeer. There were only two farming specialists: Vasiliy Vakatgyrin
and Viktor Dragunov. They
have walked the length and breadth of our tundra: in summer on foot and in
winter on skis.
1961, Ivan Filippovich Ponomaryov was elected director of the collective
tundra and the village people happily welcomed the news.
They knew him as a good first teacher of Ayon kids, who, in
addition, was fluent in Chukchi. He
had an attentive ear for every villager and tundra inhabitant, both old
and young. Tundra people have
sincere respect for those people who, knowing their language, try to learn
about the difficult life of the nomads and at the same time try to make it
easier as much as possible. Ivan Filippovich Ponomaryov became a good manager of the
collective farm. From the
very beginning, he paid attention to improving the work of all the
reindeer herding teams.
Chukotka, the Enmitagino Collective Farm was a leading enterprise.
For its achievements in livestock breeding, its collective has been
awarded a memorial banner of the Central Committee of the Communist Party
of the Soviet Union, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the
Council of Ministers of the USSR, and the All-Union Central Council of
Labor Unions. The
preservation of the number of livestock stood at 97.3 percent.
The plan figures for meat sale to the state were met at 112.2
percent. For that, the Enmitagino Collective Farm has been awarded a
First-Degree Diploma and a group of prominent reindeer herders, medals of
the All-Union Exhibition of National Economic Achievements.
1968, the collective farm was transformed into a state farm; Ivan
Filippovich Ponomaryov remained its director and worked for many more
years. With money earned by
the collective farm, the Ayon tanker has been built. Today, Ivan Filippovich is a personal pensioner.
Ayon people will keep warm memories of him for a long time.
teams represent reindeer herding on Ayon today: one is based on the island
in summer and on the mainland in winter; the other is located in the
forested tundra in winter and on the Kyttyk Peninsula in summer.
There is no monthly financial support.
In former times, technology and food supply spoiled reindeer
herders, and they have a hard time now.
the past three years, the state farm has received nothing for the meat
supplied to the state. One of
our workers once went to the farm administration to ask about the money
for the slaughter, and he was told, “If there is no slaughter, there is
no money.” This way, we
keep supplying meat for three years now and receive nothing for that.
once 22,000-strong herd now has about 4,000 reindeer.
Also, our territory is narrow and long – very inconvenient.
A road has been built on it in spite of our protests against its
construction. We have little
grazing land as it is. In
addition, gold miners have dug up almost all of our grazing lands although
they have promised recultivation and payment for land use.
However, we see nothing of that.
Our rivers are now dirty and murky with iron fish traps for big
fish. Cans litter the
environment, which causes necrobacillosis and hoof maladies in reindeer.
You understand that that reduces the number of livestock.
village has many unemployed, mainly young people who have finished high
school. That leads to
drinking and stealing.
1999, gold miners tried to assume patronage over deer herding and our
village, and now are fighting tooth and nail against it.
We now have complete anarchy; no one cares about anything.
It pains me to see not only my generation but also the future. As you see, no one needs us, and our village is still in a
state of limbo. Maybe, this
outrage will end with the new governor.
Village of Andryushkino
village of Andryushkino has a population of about 1,000.
The Yukaghir and the Even are indigenous peoples.
The village is multiethnic.
1992, the Chayla Yukaghir Clan Community was organized.
The community’s main task was to ensure the intactness of the
Yukaghir language, way of life, and traditions.
The community lives at the expense of it turnover provided by
fishing, reindeer herding, and state budget allocations.
For the community to work at full strength, both the fishermen and
the hunters need these assets: boats, motors, nets, Buran snowmobiles (in
winter), fuel, and lubricants. As
a result of the sharp growth of prices for the basic consumer goods, the
Yukaghirs’ living standards are falling.
Yukaghir language is taught at the secondary school, and as a result the
percentage of native tongue speakers has increased a little.
shortage of specialists also affects the community’s operation.
Skilled economic calculation is lacking.
June 30, 2000, the Second Congress of the Yukaghir Indigenous People was
held in Yakutsk. The Congress
stated that over the preceding eight years there had been no improvement
in the ethnic situation of the Yukaghirs.
Until 1999, the funding of the Federal Targeted Program for the
Socioeconomic Development of the Indigenous Peoples of the North had been
very unsatisfactory. For the
economic and social sphere in the North to overcome the crisis, the role
of the state in the regulation of socioeconomic processes needs to be
no small importance is also the fact that the state protectionism policy
with respect to the indigenous peoples of the North, the Yukaghir in this
case, must be based on the principles of equal-rights partnership and
mutual responsibility in the solution of existing problems.
News from Vanino District
changes have taken place in the life of the Oroches in Vanino District,
Khabarovsk Territory. The State Committee for Northern Affairs and the Ministry of
Nationalities have signed the plan for the development of the local
nongovernmental organization from 2000 until 2010. Draft contract has been concluded with the Pyatdesyat Let
Oktyabrya fishing artel for the construction and overhaul of residential
houses, provision of families of pensioners and the disabled and indigent
families with firewood; under a sociocultural program, in what concerns
uncompleted construction with a high degree of completeness, it is planned
to complete the construction of a clubhouse for 200 seats.
the summer of 2000, humpback fishing provided every indigenous family with
the fish norm of 50 kilograms [110 pounds] per person.
Vanino District Indigenous Peoples NGO has concluded a contract on
cooperation and interaction on principles of partnership and mutual
interests with the Arkaim Joint Venture, which will be taking part in the
solution of questions of socioeconomic development of the indigenous
peoples. Indigent families
with school-age children have received social assistance ahead of
September 1 [beginning of school year] in the acquisition of clothes,
footwear, and school articles. Single
pensioners and disabled people have received assistance in current repairs
on apartments (whitewashing, painting, and wallpapering).
Funds have been allocated to cover the tuition and lodging of
college and university students.
work of the indigenous peoples is aimed at developing prospective plans
and various projects to improve the socioeconomic life of Vanino District
Vanino District Administration, headed by B. Muslyanovich, supports in
every way the work of the Vanino District Indigenous Peoples NGO.
UN Information Center in Moscow
December 27, 2000, interns of Group 16 of the L’uaravetl’an
Information Center met with Aleksandr Semyonovich Gorelik, director of the
UN Information Center in Moscow.
United Nations is a unique international organization.
It was created after World War II to maintain international peace
and security, develop friendly relations between nations, contribute to
social progress, improve living standards, and protect human rights.
headquarters of the Information Center of the UN Public Information
Department in Moscow mainly deals with disseminating information about the
UN, monitors compliance with UN decisions, and translates speeches and
documents into Russian. Information
is distributed free of charge. The Center would like to publish information in major Russian
and regional newspapers on an on-going basis.
got acquainted with the librarian, Yuliya Ivanovna Vlasova.
Any inquiries can be directed via e-mail to Julia@unic.ru.
Information on social matters, rights, humanitarian assistance, the
environment, reports, and presentations of UN special organizations is
available at the UN Information Center itself.
regional mission of UN structures in Russia exists in St. Petersburg.
Raisa Fyodorova (Yukaghir)
Reminiscenes About My Father
father – Pavel Mikhaylovich Pananto – is the son of a wealthy reindeer
herder. He, too, has always
been among the best in the collective farm and the state farm.
For me, my father has always been an idol, an ideal, whom I have
always wanted to resemble. Since early childhood, I have wanted to be a boy, have always
been around my father and tried to do what men do and help my father.
On holidays, I would go with may father among the herd with a
lasso. When I would get in
the way, dad would either become angry or send me off to help my mother,
do women’s work. For me,
that was an insult and punishment.
I wangled a small summer expedition, which lasts about 10-15 days.
I was nine years old. We
had no transportation; we had only recently transformed from a collective
farm into a state farm.
can you imagine a nine-year-old girl in swamp boots size 41 [men’s 8 or
women’s 10] with a backpack? The
backpack is full of food and warm clothes as we slept out in the open –
a tent was luxury for us. Dad
bothered with me for about a week and then said, “Either you help me, or
I will send you back to your mom.”
It was fall time, with its fogs, rains, gadflies, and mushrooms –
the herd scatters, and I am there to add to his problems.
Of course, I break into tears.
Taking pity of me, dad says: “Okay, here you have some food, and
here you have a herd of your own. Catch
up with us. I am expecting you two days from now.” He showed me in what direction to move. My herd numbered some 300, and most reindeer had
necrobacillosis. That means
that you have to urge each one on almost by kicks, and they run off and
lie down again. With
difficulty and with tears, I nonetheless brought the herd on time.
Maybe that encouraged me become a veterinary medical assistant.
Father was glad but did not show it.
It turned out that a friend had told him that I was good for
nothing, and we were proving him wrong, even though I did not know that.
I had proved my worth, dad began teaching me some good sense.
True, that meant mostly physical labor, like in the military.
He would make me run on the plain, over hummocks, or up a hill.
In his youth, my dad used to be the fastest runner.
He could catch running reindeer with his hands, and he wanted to
see me being the same. From
early age, he would not let me drink tea, only clear soup and water.
Even when I became adult, I could not drink more than one cup of
tea. He almost succeeded in
shaping me into a runner – I worked in the tundra until I was 33.
I remember a young herder, Vitaliy Tyneskin, who once had to do the night
shift. He positioned himself
in the center of the herd to better control it and went to sleep.
Close to morning, while the mist was still there, the herd began to
move away. Vitaliy was
sitting and waiting for the last reindeer to walk past him.
He waited for quite a while thinking meanwhile: “What’s this?
It’s high time for them to have gone.
Can they be walking in circles?”
But when the mist had suddenly cleared, instead of his average-size
herd, he saw a humongous one. What
had happened was that a neighboring herd had come to join ours.
It occurred this way.
herder of the neighboring team surreptitiously stole some 300 reindeer,
including dad’s riding reindeer. That
reindeer was a domestic-wild crossbreed.
It was used to walking its accustomed route and brought the entire
neighboring herd to us. Dad
and I were to take over after Vitaliy.
I was surprised too, but dad instantly figured out what had
happened. The preceding
evening, he had been asking the herders if any of them had seen his
reindeer. Now, I saw him
smiling ironically. Right
then, we heard a raven crow high in the sky.
Dad said, “We’re going to have company.”
Right he was: three or four hours later, we saw six or seven men
walking our way. We met, ate,
drank tea, exchanged news, and went to divide the herd.
Our herders shared indignation among themselves: “Now they will
again cut a bigger share for themselves.”
So they did. Little as
I was, I could not keep my indignation to myself.
I came up to the team leader and fired away: “Why have you cut a
bigger share for yourselves? You
lost your herd, didn’t you? You
have to take the smaller portion.”
Of course, father and the team leader laughed at me.
But later dad chewed me out for getting into adult business. He was stern with me. He
never cursed, nor was he ever violent; he was simply stern.
My dad’s nature was very kind, and people often took advantage of
that. I remember since the
times when I was little that people would always come to him for help.
When someone is short of reindeer, he immediately goes to my dad,
and dad would give him his reindeer.
I felt annoyed for him. He
works like a dog and tries to keep all his reindeer in place.
His herd has always had more calves than any other, but as soon as
fall comes, others would plead, “Pavel, help me out.”
I remember when I was already older, probably 14, cross-country vehicles
appeared in summer camps for the first time.
They were not entirely new for us, but those were the first ones in
summer camps. The
cross-country vehicles had brought food. While opening a can, a herder cut himself so badly that we
could not stop the bleeding. One
cross-country vehicle had to be sent to the village, and the other, to the
neighboring team, led by dad’s brother.
Dad decided to send all the schoolkids on that second cross-country
vehicle to his brother, who was supposed to return to the yarangas [tepee homes] earlier than my dad.
But he did not send me. When
the cross-country vehicle had gone, I asked dad why he had made me stay,
to which he responded, “And who wanted to be a boy?”
That is how I remember my father.
Valentina Kalinina (Chukchi)
The Even-Bytantay Ethnic Ulus
Even-Bytantay Ulus is one of the young administrative-and-territorial
units with the ethnic status, established in April 1989.
Geographically, it is located in the central portion of Verkhoyansk
Ridges: the Orulgan Ridge, a left tributary of the Yana River: the
Bytantay River with two mountain streams flowing into it: the Bolshoy
Sakkyryr and the Malyy Sakkyryr. The
ulus’s area is 55,700 square kilometers [21,500 sq. mi.]; it is located
in the north of Yakutia, beyond the Arctic Circle.
Its administrative center is the village of Batagay Alyta.
The ulus comprises three naslegs and four rural population centers.
Its economy is based mainly on three agricultural sectors: reindeer
herding, horse breeding, and cattle breeding, with reindeer herding being
the most productive one. Traditional for the inhabitants is hunting.
Prospecting has discovered in the ulus deposits of diamonds and
total permanent population in 2000 amounted to 2,902 persons.
The Even and the Northern Yakut represent the indigenous
population. The Even population today amounts to 1,141 persons of all
ages. Having had dateless,
continuing traditions of cultural and marital ties with the neighboring
Upper Yana Yakut, they, with time, have undergone linguistic assimilation.
Thus, in the early 1930s, the Yakut language began to be taught in
schools as the mother tongue. However, this circumstance, as ethnologists have noted, did
not cause discontent of the Even people and was assessed as a positive
phenomenon, contributing to quick adaptation of the nomads the changing
conditions of those times. Only
with the establishment of the ethnic ulus have the Even for the first time
faced the question of the revival of the lost language of their ancestors.
the past, the Even of the ulus called themselves “Tyuges” or
“Evyn.” It is also known
that when talking to Yakuts, they referred to themselves as the
“Omuk,” the Yakut word for alien tribesmen.
Interestingly, the meaning of the Even word “tuges,” preserved
in the name of a nasleg in the ulus (Tyugyasirskaya m/a), is almost
forgotten. It was the name of the totem bird of the clan: redpoll.
The small bird was considered the protector ancestor of the Even of
this group. In the early
1900s, the Tyugyasir comprised three administrative-territorial clans: the
Southern, the Middle, and the Northern. Most of the Tyugyasir were members of the Southern Clan,
whose descendants are the Even population of the ethnic ulus.
The Northern Clan, which previously was considered to be the main
one, according to legends, diminished as a result of clashes with the
Yukaghir. Popular lore tells
us that other tribes previously populated the Tyugyasir land: the Yukaghir
and the Chukchi. With the
former, the Tyugyasir used to now intermarry, now wage war.
The latter, with the advent of warlike Tungusic tribes, were forced
to migrate eastward. Thus, the local Even may have assimilated, in their turn, a
portion of the Yukaghir people. In
the past, the Tyugyasir used to maintain contacts with the Even of the
remaining clans, penetrating, for the purpose of trading reindeer, the
northeastern portion of Yakutia. Also,
it is known from stories told by elders that there has existed similar
trade with tribes speaking other languages, other than the Even and the
the age of the loss of traditional values and the penetration of
urbanization, only the older generation remains faithful to its customs,
often being indignant over the mores of modern society.
Yet, however gloomy the predictions of the Even elders are, one
wishes to hope that the new generation of the Even, having become aware of
its cultural identity, will be able to preserve and carry on the heritage
of its fathers and grandfathers: reindeer herding and the people’s
ecological ideas related to it.
closing, I would like to briefly describe the achievements that have
become possible thanks to efforts by enthusiasts in the 11 years that the
ethnic ulus has existed. As
part of the work done by the district Public Education and Culture
Administration to preserve and develop traditions, the local history
museum has been restored and the Even language began to be taught to Even
children in kindergartens and schools.
The Childhood Center has been opened, where Even and Yakut kids
attend traditional culture circles. Ethnic
folklore bands Ayanesa and Tugusil, made up of schoolchildren, take part in republic-wide
activities. In 1993, local
historian F. Kurchatova published her popular-science essay “The
Sakkyryr Even.” A cultural
information program on local television is becoming traditional.
Since the establishment of the ulus, the Bytantay Wottara newspaper has been published in Yakut.
The Even regional association has been created, called to defend
the vital interests of its representatives.
positive experience of the first Even ethnic ulus shows that, in spite of
a seemingly hopeless situation with self-identity and linguistic
self-determination, native culture may get its second wind.
In this respect, the principal factor is that representatives of
the indigenous population are intellectually and creatively active.
individuals and organizations interested in the life of the Even in the
ulus may contact their regional association as well as the editorial
office of the local newspaper, Bytantay Wottara at Batagay Alyta, Even-Bytantay Ulus, Republic of
Sakha/Yakutia 678534, Russia, or by using the telephone number (411-60)
2-1226, as well as via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life Was Pulsing Here Once
My little village, do not long for big cities;
centuries back, the Upper Kama Valley was populated by the Perm, ancestors
of the Komi. It was there
that the Trade Routes from Cherdyn to the Pechora Country student
expedition from the Art School under the Head of the Komi Republic has set
out with help from the Scout Association.
The main objective was to follow the trails used by Perm merchants
to take to the Pechora “Russian” goods (as the Komi called textiles,
bread, etc. – all that has been brought from Russia) and bring back
furs, fish, game, berries, and mushrooms – all the riches of the
course, we knew that there were Komi living on Perm land as well and that
we would be in contact with them, but could not imagine that the very
first person we would meet after our difficult, three-day walk through the
taiga and marshes would be a Komi. Aleksandr
Savelyevich Afanasyev, born in the Pechora village of Mamyl, had moved to
the Visherka in the 1930s, worked in the forest and lived in the village
of Semi Sosny. When this
village, with a wondrous name, died, like many Russian villages, he moved
to the settlement of Chusovskoy and now visits this place occasionally.
This time, we found him making hay.
even in Chusovskoy life is not a bed of roses.
Following the small villages, the forest settlements are also
living their last days. It
will not be an exaggeration to say that the north of Perm Oblast is
nothing but labor camp zones and exile settlements.
At one time, this system was enabling many settlements to live, but
now the few jobs are available only to prisoners, and the permanent
residents have nowhere to work, and most have nowhere to move to (those
who had a place to move to have moved a long time ago).
Remaining from the “blessed” Soviet times along the Kolva, the
Visherka, and other Perm rivers are lurched posts with barbed wire, piles
of iron garbage, and drunkards, freed some five to 10 years ago and stuck
here because no one is waiting for them any place else.
to live in such settlements are those who have been born and grown up here
and whose fathers and grandfathers are buried in the local cemetery.
women approached us in a store in Chusovskoy with questions about what we
were, where from we had come, and where to we were going.
The were happy to learn that we were from Komi; it turned out that
the parents of both Mariya Mikhaylovna Afanasyeva and Mariya
Konstantinovna Yakovtseva are also from Komi, from the Upper Vychegda.
They had moved to Chusovskoye from the village of Komi Beryozovka.
Only two days earlier, we had passed through those places and we
had seen with our own eyes the grassed field, which had apparently not
been scythed for some ten years. Only
one house, occasionally used by fishermen, stands on the site of the
village. We were told that
Marpida Vasilyevna Mingalyova, who had just celebrated her 90th
birthday, was the best source of information about Komi Beryozovka.
All together, we went to see her, and this is what we heard.
Sometime in the early 1900s, Yefim Kirillovich Mingalyov was the
first to move from the Upper Vychegda, first, to Lake Tumskoye, and then
moved to Lake Beryozovskoye. With him, was Aleksandr Moiseyevich Mingalyov, the father in
law of Marpida Vasilyevna. Her
parents – Vasiliy Vasilyevich and Lyubov Petrovna Mingalyov – also
lived in Komi Beryozovka until old age.
The mother would even walk to the native land on the Vychegda,
which she missed a lot. Only
Komi inhabited the village, the reason for which it was called Komi
life there was good,” Marpida Vasilyevna goes on.
“The reason for moving here was the abundance of game and fish in
the local forests and lakes. Father
hunted a lot, and mother was with the family, the kids.
I had 11 brothers and sisters.
Me too I have nurtured 11 children.
We lived very harmoniously in the village.
It was common practice when one day all will build a house for one
person and the next day all will do the same for another one.”
married a man from the same village and did it early, at the age of 17;
the wedding was in the village of Nyrob, more than a hundred versts from
family had five cows. When collective farms began to be established, all the
livestock was taken away to form a common herd; only the horses remained
private. Dusya, my daughter,
was very little at that time. There
was nothing to feed her with as there was no longer any milk.
I told my father in law that I would go and take back the cow that
I had brought with me from my parents’ home as dowry.
And the father in law said that I should not do that for I would be
put in prison. So I did not
do that. In those times,
there were many people in the village: 10 persons per home.
During the [1941-1945] war, almost all the men were taken to the
frontline. Three of my
brothers perished in the war, and none those born in 1920 returned home
alive. There were 12 homes
and a 4-grade school. The 5th
grade was available only in Nyrob. Then
everyone moved to live here as people wanted to give education to their
kids and set them up in the world. My
old man and I remained in the village to the very end.
My man would go to the village for a sack of flour or sugar, and we
would bake bread ourselves.
than a hundred years was the life of the village, and then it quietly
became history. The number of
such villages that faded in Komi and all over Russia is large.
From some villages people went away of their own free will, because
they needed to raise their children.
Who will blame them for that?
From others, labeled “unpromising,” people would be lured or
intimidated into leaving.
Art School’s Ethnopedagogical Center makes all it can for memory about
the villages to remain in history, at least a line.
The Center’s leader, Alla Aleksandrovna Taskayeva, has for many
years been organizing expeditions to various areas of the republic and has
visited with her students the Yemva, the Lymva, the Vishera, the Sysola
and the Vashka. Canoeing on
the rivers, they miss no village, even those with only one person left or
no population at all. Everywhere,
they ask about everything, find out how people lived there, what they used
to do, and what they used to dream about.
And everywhere they hear words like, “Life was pulsing here
once.” Ms. Taskayeva and
the kids, who thirst for going on expeditions with her, want to pass on
the echoes to future generations. After
each expedition, the students make presentations at conferences on what
they have learned while traveling. The
latest expedition went to places where it had once been planned to turn
the rivers around. On the
watershed of the Pechora and the Volga, a series of underground nuclear
explosions had been planned. Ivan
Kiselyov, a 10th grade student of the School’s Humanities
Department, devoted his presentation at the fall conference to that topic.
We believe that the readers of this bulletin will be interested in
reading his presentation.
Pavel Simpelev (Komi)
A Hiroshima Hidden in the Taiga?
project to redirect northern rivers into the Volga and the Caspian Sea may
be called one of the most ambitious projects of the 1960s and 1970s.
The plan was to unite in a single system the river basins of the
Pechora and the Kama and create reservoirs: one in the area of the
villages of Troitsko-Pechorsk and Pokcha and the other below the place
where the Shchugor joins the Pechora.
The main channel was to be dug from the village of Yaksha in the
Upper Pechora Valley to the Kolva River, and a dam 100 meters [328 feet]
high and 12 kilometers [7.5 miles] long was planned to be built near Ust
Voya. The route of our
expedition passed through the area where the channel was to be dug.
By the way, some 30 years ago tourists used to be taken on a
special tour, called “Along the bottom of a future reservoir.”
A nuclear explosion in March of 1971 marked the beginning of the
implementation of the grandiose project.
first, most unique in the USSR and the most powerful in Perm Oblast,
triple nuclear explosion, with the code name of “Taiga,” took place on
March 23, 1971. All in all,
in the course of the channel construction, there were to be, according to
some sources, 250 such explosions, and according to others, at least 150!
charges for the first explosion were placed 127.2 meters [417.3 feet],
127.3 meters [417.7 feet], and 127.6 meters [418.6 feet] under the earth
surface at the distance of 163-167 meters [535-548 feet] from each other.
The explosion was considered to be an underground one, but many
experts coincide in that it was a surface one.
For an underground explosion, the charge must be placed 450-1,500
meters [492-1,640 yards] below the surface.
The question arises: “Was it only for the sake of the channel
that the nuclear charge was blasted?”
That looks more like weapon testing.
The charge was fairly powerful: approximately 45 kilotons (three
times the power of the Hiroshima bomb).
The resulting gas-and-dust cloud was 1,800 meters [1.12 miles] high
and 1,700 meters [1.06 miles] in diameter.
explosion was made in a forest, in the middle of swamps.
Nonetheless, there were population centers nearby.
Their inhabitants gave us some information.
The inhabitants were warned about the explosion on the radio and in
local newspapers on March 12. In
personal communication, some were suggested to leave their homes at the
time of explosion (noon of March 23) and take domestic animals with them,
and others, to the contrary, were recommended to stay indoors. V. Girgart recalls: “In the yard, just in case, there were
vehicles. We did not hear the
sound of the explosion, but we felt a strong tremor: suddenly, the earth
trembled, the posts shook, and the house crackled.”
In Yaksha and Kurya, windowpanes jingled and stoves collapsed.
Those who were watching from higher locations saw fire gush from
the ground and a black cloud rise, looking like a giant mushroom.
According to A. Sobyanina, a resident in the settlement of
Rusinovo, the “mushroom” moved in the north-northeasterly direction.
The designers had counted on a westerly wind, which would take the
cloud to sparsely populated areas, but instead the wind carried the cloud
to the territory of the Komi Republic.
explosion produced a trench 700 meters [766 yards] long, 340 meters [371
yards] wide, and up to 15 meters [16.4 yards] deep.
The ground around it rose 6 meters [20 feet] high and about 50
meters [55 yards] wide, and clods of earth were thrown to the distance of
170 meters [186 yards]. Gradually,
ground water filled the opening, which turned into a lake.
was only in the 1990s that research was made there, which determined that
that “peaceful” explosion would be enough for us and our descendants
with a vengeance. Plutonium
238, 239, and 240 has been discovered in the Lake Chusovskoye area, to
neutralize which 10 half-lives are needed.
Translated into simpler language, that means: for the radioactive
situation on the “Taiga” site to come back to normal, 240,000 years
have to pass. For many years,
radioactivity in the “Taiga” area used to amount to 1,100 mR/h, which
is 100 times higher than the natural radioactivity level.
the explosion, the local inhabitants began noticing natural anomalies.
In the forest, they would see albino elks, which fact shows
disorders on the genetic level. The
cranberries close to the explosion site are unusually large and succulent,
and mushrooms are like on a picture.
The fish caught in the lake that formed on the site of the
explosion have a different number of rays in the fins than similar fish in
other reservoirs. The perches
are large and thick, and the pikes, to the contrary, are flat.
A. Afanasyev, who lives in Chusovskoy, told us that he had caught a
fish with two caudal fins. All
that evidence speaks about the contamination of not only the site of the
explosion but also vast adjacent territories.
The Pechora-Ilych Preserve is at a close distance from there.
by the Pechora Salvation Committee in 1991, the Biology Institute of the
Komi Scientific Center in an official information portrayed the situation
in rosy colors. The only
acknowledgment was that the series of three explosions was conducted at
much smaller depths than required and that that has led to certain
contamination of the territory.
materials about the “Taiga” site, we found out that in 1974-1975
another explosion was planned, but no charge was installed.
According to other sources, close to the site of the explosion
there is another well with a charge installed but never exploded. The
well is a thick tube, 2 meters [6.6 feet] in diameter, going down 130
meters [142 yards]. Can it be
that another Hiroshima is hidden down there?
authorities seem to be confident that the explosion of such power has left
no trace. Is the local
population just as confident?