RAIPON, the organization representing Russia’s indigenous peoples, has been given permission by the Russian authorities to reopen. It was forced to close by Russia’s Ministry of Justice in November last year.
The official reason given for the shutdown was that the organization’s statutes were not in line with federal law. However, many believed the closure was an attempt to quell opposition to the exploitation of Russia’s natural resources in Siberia, and was part of a crackdown on organizations with foreign links.
RAIPON was formed in 1990 and represents more than 270,000 indigenous people. It has given a voice to tribal people in some of the most remote and inhospitable places on earth.
Survival, along with other organizations, protested to the Russian government against the closure, calling for RAIPON to be allowed to continue its work representing Russia’s indigenous people.
In an open letter sent to Survival, RAIPON’s Vice President, Rodion Sulyandziga wrote, ‘I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all those who have been with us during these difficult days and months, who have expressed solidarity and civic engagement, who have been able to understand and have climbed with us to new heights, who did not keep silent and did not turn their backs. Thank you for your involvement and solidarity. This is a collective achievement’.