To the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

The criminal war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine is bringing irreparable harm to indigenous communities and ethnic minorities both in the Russian Federation and in the occupied territories of Ukraine (in Crimea, Crimean Tatar activists are being repressed).

There are 47 small indigenous peoples in Russia, some of them numbering only hundreds or tens of people. According to the data of the national census, 67 % of them have decreased in number over the last 10 years, and some indigenous peoples are on the verge of extinction.

Military conscription and the imposition of contractual military service have most affected the poorest regions of Russia – those where ethnic minorities live, disproportionately affected by mobilisation. Hundreds of deaths of small indigenous troops have been confirmed, but the total number of deaths is difficult to estimate because the Russian government does not publish reliable data on military deaths or keep statistics on the proportion of indigenous peoples. For indigenous peoples, participation in war threatens their physical survival; up to one third of all men of certain peoples have been torn away from their families and traditional way of life in what is known as “partial mobilisation”.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, repressive Russian legislation has been significantly strengthened, and indigenous activists in Siberia, the North, and the Far East are persecuted when they try to defend their rights or speak out against the war in Ukraine.

Under the pretext of “wartime” and sanctions, Russian authorities and extractive industries have lowered environmental standards to “support the Russian economy”. Mining destroys the habitat of indigenous peoples, makes it impossible for them to continue their traditional way of life, destroys forests, and poisons water. There is no way to obtain fair compensation for the damage caused by industrial companies to the traditional habitats of indigenous peoples.

The criminal war in Ukraine has become a catastrophe not only for millions of Ukrainians, but also for the peoples of Russia, especially those living in the harsh conditions of the Far North, Siberia, and the Far East.

ADC Memorial strongly condemns the military aggression by Russia against Ukraine. Indigenous activists of the North, Siberia and the Far East of Russia who cooperate with ADC Memorial strongly oppose the war, condemn any participation in it, and call to stand against involving indigenous peoples in the crimes of the Russian army.