Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Yamal Officials Link Small Peoples of North Group to Hostile Foreign Agents

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 22 – In the latest example of Moscow-inspired paranoia in the regions and a willingness of officials there to say anything to suppress the population on behalf of Russian corporate interests, a Russian official in Yamalo-Nenets have accused the members of the numerically small peoples of the North of having links with hostile foreign agents.

            Sergey Klimentyev, the director for domestic affairs of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, says that his region is under “an information attack” orchestrated by “foreign agents” who are “attempting to sabotage the policy of the regional authorities by means of the Internet” (ura.ru/articles/1036269576).

            He points to the work of the Golos Tundry community on the VKontakte social network, a group with some 1500 followers, as evidence that these outside agitators are “artificially creating a point of tension in order to create a new political reality” in Russia’s northernmost regions.

            Klimentyev links the Golos Tundry site to the Batani organization, which a Russian court recently held to be a foreign agent.  It is headed by Pavel Sulyandziga and Oksana Kharyuchi. She is the daughter of Sergey Kharyuchi, the deputy speaker of the Yamal parliament.

            Sulyandziga says he has no knowledge of Golos Tundry, although he told URA.ru that he “doesn’t exclude” that he and his group could support this community given what appear to be their common goals. At the same time, the activist expressed his support for much of what the local government has been doing.

            Unfortunately, he continues, many officials want to declare someone an enemy if they get in the way of what the powers that be want.

            URA.ru spoke with the founder of the Golos Tundry group. He spoke with them on conditions of “full anonymity” because as a native of the region, he fears that the authorities will repress him.  As for those who accuse his group of links to foreign agents, the organizer said that “it seems to me that they have sick imaginations.”

            “Neither Greenpeace nor other organizations have never been connected” with his VKontakte group, and they have not “proposed any kind of cooperation.”  Golos Tundry is “an independent group,” he adds, and it defends the rights of the indigenous population against oil companies and those who would destroy the reindeer herds on which the local people rely.

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