The Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East (RAIPON), Russia’s largest indigenous rights group and one of six indigenous Permanent Participants on the world’s Arctic Council, is in serious danger of being permanently dissolved. The non-governmental organization has received an official six-month “activities suspension order” from Russia’s Ministry of Justice restricting the group from protesting or gathering. The federal Ministry of Justice accused the organization of noncompliance with federal law.
Rodion Sulyandziga, RAIPON’s first vice president, told the French news agency AFP, “This is a political decision. They want to remove us as a barrier and active participant in international law.”
RAIPON represents an estimated 30,000 indigenous people and 41 member groups throughout Russia and, in some cases, is the only mouthpiece for indigenous Russians.
Because of the suspension, RAIPON has stopped all international projects, but the association isn’t going to give up without a fight. RAIPON plans to appeal the ministry’s decision. However, if the appeal is unsuccessful, RAIPON will be ordered to completely shut down operations within six months, leaving the indigenous people of Russia’s Arctic without a voice on the Arctic Council. Alaska Dispatch