Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Anna Kuznetsova (University of Tartu, Estonia / Institute of Language, Literature and History of Komi Science Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)

Rights of Indigenous Peoples According to the Legislation of the Russian Federation

According to the ILO Convention No.169, indigenous peoples are those who have specific historical circumstances and own customs. Russian legislation distinguishes the term “indigenous small numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East” which differs from the UN definition: they are nations preserving the traditional way of life and having fewer than 50000 members. Russia has not ratified UN documents on indigenous peoples. The main reason is in the regulations on land ownership. UN Conventions recognize the rights of indigenous peoples for the lands ownership. Russia provides indigenous peoples only the right to use their lands. The Russian Constitution fixes the right to determine the nationality and to use native languages. The Law on Education provides an opportunity to get basic general education on the native language. But in practice this provision is rarely used. The indigenous peoples’ positions are different in Russia. Russian regions have different legislations: republics have their own Constitutions; other regions have Statutes and Basic Laws. Only republics are allowed to set their languages as official if the language is based on a Cyrillic alphabet. Thus, in the Russian European North only the Komi Republic uses its language as official. Many documents contain the provisions on the need to preserve national languages and cultures, state that some national organizations have the right of legislative initiative in their regions. The Strategy of State National Policy of the Russian Federation puts forward the ensuring the interests of the state and not the national languages and cultures development. But development of ethnic and cultural diversity of peoples in Russia is marked among the purposes of the state national policy. Equality and self-determination of peoples, national languages and cultures preservation are pointed out among the principles. But still there is a problem with using them in practice.