The Moscow Times: Their Ancestral Traditions Under Threat, a Village in Russia’s Far East Stands Up to Gold-Mining Giant

The Moscow Times:

A small Indigenous community in Russia’s Far East republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is challenging a gold-mining giant owned by Russian magnate Alexei Mordashov in what they deem a last-ditch attempt to preserve their traditional livelihoods.

Residents of Tyanya, an Evenk village of about 470 people in Sakha’s southeastern Olyokminsky district, this month called on President Vladimir Putin and the republic’s head Aysen Nikolayev to bar Nordgold from developing a fourth mine in the area.

The letter states that unchecked gold mining leads to deforestation and water pollution, while airborne chemical dust particles from the mines settle on moss eaten by reindeer, shrinking the community’s traditional reindeer-herding grounds.

…“These people live off fishing, hunting and reindeer herding in its traditional form, aided by only a few modern technologies like snowmobiles. Their lifestyle is very similar to that led by previous generations,” said Stefania Kulaeva, a human rights activist and expert at the Brussels-based Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) Memorial.

“This difficult life in extreme climatic conditions is certainly deserving of respect and support, especially given its importance for preserving the planet,” she added, noting that Indigenous land use practices are widely hailed as “the most nature-conserving and planet-friendly way of managing resources.”

With the nearest town located some 280 kilometers to the north, no paved roads or internet access, Tyanya’s residents have been able to preserve their ancestors’ secluded traditional livelihood, but Nordgold’s expansion has increasingly loomed over their community.

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