Sunday, December 16, 2018

Magadan Considering Equalizing Benefits of Numerically Small Peoples and Longtime Russian Residents

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 16 – Moscow’s subsidies for the numerically small indigenous peoples of the Far North has always been an irritant to ethnic Russians and others they live among. The latter don’t understand why the others should get more benefits than they, and now, as economic conditions deteriorate, Russian officials are moving to meet Russian demands.

            One reason that this program exists is that the number of people included in the numerically small indigenous peoples of the North is small and so any subsidies granted to them amount to only a small part of the budget. If these same subsidies were extended to other larger groups, the entire program might become too expensive to sustain.

            Consequently, any more to give non-indigenous nationalities such subsidies is almost certain to be opposed by the indigenous peoples who have a reasonable fear that extending benefits to the others could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back on which they depend to survive.

            It is thus a measure of how difficult times are in the North that Russian officials in Magadan are now considering measures that would extend the same benefits numerically small peoples there receive to all those members of other nationalities who have been living in that region for at least 15 years.

            Maksim Brodkin, head of the governor’s department for internal and information policy, says that his staff is working on a measure that would equalize the benefits extended to the two groups ( and

                He says that non-indigenous people have been raising this issue for some time, and the government wants to meet their needs. But to do so, Brodkin adds, it is necessary to define with more precision who is a member of a numerically small indigenous nation and who is not, even though such a definition does exist in federal law.

            That comment alone suggests that the Magadan authorities are ready to extend aid to others who have lived in the oblast for more than 15 years even though they do not practice the kinds of traditional ways of life as the federal law requires.  And that in turn means that there is certain to be a conflict between the indigenous peoples and the others.

            If that happens, it could create a situation in which even more of the non-indigenous people would feel compelled to leave the area tilting its ethnic makeup and thus Moscow’s control away from the ethnic Russians who dominate the area now to the non-Russian indigenous peoples who have lived there from time immemorial.

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