Sunday, 29th May 2022

The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Taimyr has addressed to the Barents Observer, a Norwegian Internet edition demanding apologies from Pavel Sulyandziga, the head of the Batani Foundation for his statements published by this media.

The letter states that “Sulyandziga insults the indigenous residents of Taimyr, our communities, as well as the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North on the Taimyr Peninsular in the Krasnoyarsk Territory.”
On March 14, 2021, the Barents Observer published an article titled, “Indigenous peoples call on Nornickel's global partners to demand environmental action” describing the call by the Batani Foundation and other organizations working to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and the environment to international banking and credit institutions, as well as to buyers of metals produced by Norilsk Nickel, in particular the BASF corporation.
The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Taimyr believes that the Batani Foundation and other signatories have no right to speak on behalf of Taimyr residents. “We do not know what projects the Batani Foundation and its chairman are involved in. We are sure that he should not make public statements about Taimyr and the indigenous residents of the area without knowing us and not communicating with us. We did not elect Mr. Sulyandziga as our representative the way we elect heads of our communities and chairpersons of associations. Taimyr and the indigenous residents of Taimyr are beyond the competence of Mr. Sulyandziga,” says the letter of the organization representing more than 10,000 inhabitants of the peninsula.
“We consider offensive the accusations of Mr. Sulyandziga against the indigenous peoples of Taimyr that some companies bribe us, pay for loyalty and force us to paint a rosy picture,” say Taimyr residents defending their rights.
Community members objectively assess their relationship with the company: “The relationship with Norilsk Nickel, with which we have lived and worked for 85 years, did not always suit us. There were problems, but we solved them together. After the diesel oil spill, we see positive changes in policy and approaches to interaction with the indigenous minorities of Taimyr." As an example, the letter cites an agreement between Norilsk Nickel and the associations of the indigenous minorities of Russia, the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Taimyr on a five-year development program for 2 billion rubles, “which includes funds for the construction of new houses in the villages, for transport means, for the development of community crafts, and for assessment of commercial resources, fish and deer.” According to the Taimyr community members, “the Coordination Council of Indigenous Peoples established under the leadership of the Norilsk Combine will monitor and determine how efficiently the allocated funds will be used. We expect to plan the development of the community economy and the infrastructure of the villages in team with the company.” The letter also mentions the first ABC book of the Entsy language, created with the financial assistance of Norilsk Nickel, as well as the Entsy written language and grammar developed by the Siberian Federal University.
“We consider it natural to cooperate with big business for the sake of preserving the culture, languages, crafts, and traditional nature management of the Nenets, Dolgans, Nganasans, Evenks, and Enets living on the Taimyr Peninsular. Funding by a large company of projects for the development of everyday life, crafts, and culture of the indigenous peoples and payment of compensation is a generally accepted world practice, and this does not mean that someone buys someone else's loyalty or soul,” the letter says.
In their letter, the Taimyr community members ask the Barents Observer, being an authoritative edition, “to take into account the opinion of the indigenous people of Taimyr, the chairpersons of the communities, the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North on the Taimyr Peninsular in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and not allow people who are not related to our land, insult us and substitute their opinion for ours, talk about the fictitious problems of Taimyr, ignoring what is really important.”
“We are protesting against using us, the indigenous peoples of Taimyr, in someone’s political and commercial games,” Grigory Dyukarev, head of the Taimyr Indigenous Peoples Association said.

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