Friday, September 20, 2019

Komi Movement Combines Commitments to Nation, Civil Society

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 16 – One of the fundamental strengths of the Baltic national movements in the 1980s was a commitment to both the promotion of ethno-national interests and to the development of civil society, the result at least in part of the ways in which these movements grew out of environmental protection and historical preservation efforts.

            As the Shiyes protests show, the national movement of the Komi Republic is repeating that path. One Komi leader recently noted that “the prospects for the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk Oblast are today one – to show that in the North of Russia has been formed a civil society and the powers that be must take it into consideration” (

            Nikolay Udoratin, a leader of the ‘Let Us Defend Ourselves” [Dooryam osnymos], said further “the colonial policy of the federal center cannot continue any longer: our citizens will not accept it. The environmental problem in Shiyes can be solved only by political methods.  And the citizens of the Republic have already made clear that they do not need” Moscow’s outsiders.

            “We want authorities whom we have freely elected and who will defend our people rather than deferring to Moscovia and its United Russia pack.”

            Now, the ‘Let Us Defend Ourselves” movement has published its program (

The Komi Republic is a multi-national sovereign state within the Russian Federation. We, participants in the republic union ‘Let Us Defend Ourselves’ are convinced that on our territory, despite differences in ethnic origin [65 percent of the republic’s population is ethnic Rusisan; 25 percent Komi], a civil society has been formed which is the foundation for the establishment of a full-fledged nation.

For the defense of national interests, the development of the Republic, social well-being and economic sufficient for the people, we propose the following:

·         Introducing Komi Republic citizenship

·         Guaranteeing real equality of the state languages

·         Changing the tax relationship with the federal center in the direction of the Republic

·         Ensuring the observation of environmental law, particularly by extractive enterprises and lumbering

·         Securing the legal sovereignty of the Republic in international relations

·         Securing the equality of Federal and Republic legislation. If the laws contradict one another, then priority is to be given too the law which defends and benefits the citizens of the Republic.

·         Reviewing the existing Constitution of the Komi Republic via popular discussion and a referendum

·         Broadening the authority of the organs of local self-administration to secure true public power for the solution of local issues

·         Introducing a residency requirement for those in senior positions

·         Giving the Congress of the Komi People, as the highest representative body of the indigenous people of the Republic, veto rights.

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