Staunton, September 16 – The Association of Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation says that Russian political parties have ignored the rights of the non-Russians who constitute 20 percent of the population and that the indigenous peoples should vote against all party lists, backing only candidates in single-member districts who support their peoples.
Although it is far from clear how many people will learn of this appeal and follow this recommendation, this is an important development not only in highlighting the anger many non-Russians feel about Russian political parties but also in underscoring the radical differences in the way they and the candidates view single member contests as against party list voting.
Last year, the Association, which was created by national activists in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Chuvashia in 2014, sent an appeal to all Russian parties, except the openly imperialist KPRF and LDPR, asking that they voice their support for Russian ratification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
None of them bothered to answer. The only response came from the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs which declared that there was no need to ratify the Declaration because all of “the main provisions” of that international act are included “within the framework of existing law” (kyk-byre.ru/2011-predvybornoe-obraschenie-associacii-korennyh-narodov-rossiyskoy-federacii-my-golosuem-za-prava-korennyh-narodov-protiv-vseh-politicheskih-partiy.html).
“One can only guess,” the Association said yesterday, “which of the parties sent the appeal to an organ of state power” given that “by law, bureaucrats do not have the right to take part in the activity of political parties in connection with their official responsibilities.” But that is what has happened.
And the Association continued that “prior to elections, violations of rights are viewed particularly starkly,” and there have been many of them, including Moscow’s treatment of Siberia and the Russian Far East as lands conquered by Russians who can dispose of those lands as they like without consultation with the indigenous peoples.
That is what happened earlier this month at the Second Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok where Russian officials acted as if they were the only ones who needed to be consulted about development east of the Urals and did not invite any representatives of the indigenous peoples, including the Sakha, the Evenks, the Evens, the Chukchis, and the Nanays.”
That Russian failure constitutes a violation of several provisions of the UN Declaration, provisions which Moscow apparently assumes it can simply ignore, the Association says. As a result, the organization has approved the text of the following statement that it is addressing to “citizens not indifferent to the fate of the indigenous peoples of Russia.”
“In view of the fact that not one of the existing political parties of the Russian Federation has formulated its position regarding the rights of indigenous peoples and the ratification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Association … proposes that the indigenous peoples … vote against all candidates on party lists.”
Candidates running in single-member districts “who have spoken out on behalf of the preservation and further development of the language, culture and history of national-territorial formations, their borders, their basic laws and constitutions,” on the other hand, deserve to receive the votes of members of indigenous nationalities.
The Association adds that “in the absence of a line ‘against all’ on the ballot, we propose putting a check for each party and vote for all parties at one and the same time. That will make the ballot invalid! And in the counting of votes, such wasted ballots could be considered as votes ‘against all.’” The absence of a line allowing voting against all is also a violation of the Constitutional rights of citizens of the Russian Federation.