Sami, an indigenous people living in the Murmansk region, in north of Russia, appealed to the United Nations (UN) with a complaint against the actions of the regional government. Representatives of the Sami community complained about the transfer of the pasture lands of the state farm in a long-term lease to the Belgorod Hunting Club (BEZRK).
The management of the Olenevod state farm, specialized in reindeer, and the Sami Heritage and Development Fund state in their appeal underlined that the auction for the right to use the land was held without the consent of the indigenous population living compactly in this territory. As a result, the right to the free use of lands necessary for traditional farming, guaranteed by the Federal Law, was violated.
Sami accused officials of violating a number of articles of the International Convention on Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, writes Novaya Gazeta, specifying that the lands on the Ponoi River, where the reindeer migrate and where the wintering grounds for pregnant female moose are located, were transferred to the Belgorod hunting club “BEZRK” this winter.
Earlier Sami activists filed a similar complaint with the Russian presidential administration. They asked to keep the so-called “maternity hospital” for the Ponoi elks in the Lovozero in the Murmansk region, drawing the authorities’s attention to the fact that it would be destroyed by the transfer of land to the hunting club. However, local officials claim that there are no permits for the use of land by reindeer herders, no contracts have been concluded with them, and no official permits have been issued for reindeer herders on the disputed land plots. Having received zero aid from the administration of Vladimir Putin, the Sami decided to apply to the UN.
At present there is a hunting boom among Russian nouveaux riches who dramatically lack political, social and cultural sophistication, confusing killing of wild animals for noble occupation, contributing to upgrading their status. There are numerous avid hunters among members of Russian Duma, an also among Federation Council, reflecting interests of hunting lobby, led by senator – avid hunter Andrei Klishas. The situation explains the decision of the Sami community to address the United Nations because only very few would believe they could win against all-powerful hunting lobby, pursuing the interest to kill the best of wildlife.
Saami or Sami, Laplanders, Kild are a small Finno-Ugric people, living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The habitat of the Sami settlement stretches from the eastern tip of the Kola Peninsula through the north of Finland and Norway to the central part of the Scandinavian Peninsula.
The Sami, 1770 people in 2010, have a clear national identity, their own flag and anthem, and their rights are represented by elected bodies of cultural self-government – the Sami parliaments.
The main occupations of the Sami have been reindeer herding, fishing, sea and land hunting.
Russian hunting club invasion into their territory is the second blow to Sami people after they suffered a defeat from Norway government in the end of March, deciding to move on with copper mine construction in their traditional habitat. The resolve came after years of Sami struggle in different fora.
Review by Anna van Densky