Staunton, April 19 – The failure of the four all-Russian political parties to address ethnic issues in their programs has prompted non-Russian activists in the Middle Volga to call for a vote “against all” in party list competitions but to support individual candidates in single-member districts who have focused on nationality questions.
On the one hand, this is clearly an effort by non-Russian activists to force the major parties to take positions on issues of special importance to non-Russian communities. But on the other, if they don’t, this call may affect the outcomes of races in the two kinds of elections that will fill the new duma.
And to the extent that some of the candidates of the major parties running in single member districts do win after issuing programmatic statements on nationality issues, that could lead via this backdoor to the formation of “a nationalities caucus” in each of them and more attention to ethnic issues in the Russian parliament.
The appeal came at a meeting of the Fourth Congress of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation held last weekend in Ufa. Specifically the meeting made the following declaration:
“In view of the fact that not one of the existing political parties of the Russian Federation has formulated its position on the rights of indigenous peoples and the ratification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Federation proposes that the indigenous peoples participate in the election of deputies of the State Duma by means of voting against all candidates by party lists but supports those candidates in single-member districts who speak for the preservation and further development of language, culture, history of national territorial formations, their borders, their organization and constitutions” (openrussia.org/post/view/14412/ and kyk-byre.ru/1966-16-aprelya-2016-g-v-ufe-proshel-iv-sezd-associacii-korennyh-narodov-rf.html).
Among the groups taking part in the meeting were the Kuk-Bure movement of Bashkortostan and the following groups from Tatarstan: the Tatar Social Chamber of Naberezhnye Chelny, the Shura of Aksakals, the Azatlyk Union of Tatar Youth, and the Altyn Urda Tatar Patriotic Front.”
All supported the declaration as did representatives of the Ireklekh National Rebirth Society of Chuvashia, the On Kangash Council of Elders of Mari El, and the Buryat regional organization, Burdyaad soyel.