(2001) JLP 46: 121-134
THE RIGHTS OF SMALL-NUMBERED PEOPLES OF THE RUSSIAN NORTH IN THE TERRITORIES OF TRADITIONAL NATURE USE
Russia recognises the rights of the population, i.e. the small-numbered peoples of the North, Silesia and the Far East, to their languages and cultures, but has not enacted legislation to determine the rights of this population to the lands and natural resources which it has traditionally used. Problems arise in part from the facts that the officially designated ‘areas of extreme North’ contain valuable minerals, oil, gas and timber, and many cities and industrial areas, populated largely by immigrants, are located there. It is argued that legal recognition should be given to the rights of small-numbered peoples of the North to traditional, communal land use and reasonable exploitation of resources. These uses continued until the State programmes of the 1960s and 1970s brought indigenous Northern peoples into large settlements, although that process has been reversed with the withdrawal of state subsidies to traditional economies in the 1990s and the consequent ‘retraditionalization’. In the post-Soviet period people have tended to revert to a natural subsistence economy, and to disregard laws, both modern and traditional, protecting the environment. Significant and constant expenditure by the state is required, and the destructive use of resources needs to be stopped. Proposals for economic, social, ecological and ethnological and cultural approaches to the formulation of appropriate law are discussed.