One day before the opening of the Arctic Council meeting in Sweden, Russian authorities moved to suspend the activities of RAIPON, the country’s main organisation representing 41 indigenous groups - around 270,000 people - in the arctic region. Basing their decision on an interpretation of inconsistencies in the organisation’s bylaws, this seems to be a thinly veiled attempt by the Russian government to silence the voices of Indigenous Peoples who are speaking out against the dangers of drilling for oil in the Russian Arctic.
RAIPON is a member of the Arctic Council, an inter-governmental forum for Arctic governments and peoples. RAIPON’s suspension came on the eve of a meeting of the Arctic Council, which, for the first time, RAIPON was unable to attend. In August, RAIPON, along with other representatives of indigenous peoples in Russia’s north, supported a demand to ban oil production in parts of the Arctic which they traditionally use.
The Ministry of Justice said it was suspending RAIPON because its statutes were no longer in line with the new federal law. RAIPON has made several attempts to change its statutes so they remain in line with the law, but the government has rejected them.