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You're reading: Russia’s northern peoples use UN to press Moscow on ethnic rights

Last week, during the sessions in New York of the United Nations Forum on the Issues of Indigenous Peoples, representatives of the Russian Federation’s numerically small peoples of the North issued a series of demands to Moscow ranging from help in countering the effects of global warming to recognizing their right to self-determination.

Valentina Sovkina, the speaker of the Saami Parliament of the Kola Peninsula, issued the most sweeping demand. She called on Moscow to observe the right of all indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation to self-determination, something she pointed out the Russian government is committed to by treaty.

Vasily Nemechkin, a member of the governing board of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (MAFUN), made a more limited demand. He called on the Russian powers that be to establish a special ombudsman to ensure the rights of native peoples, including his own.

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