Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 167

167 Arctic Yearbook 2015 regional government (Thompson 2008). He also made significant investments in infrastructure in the region. While ethnic stratification and state paternalism remained in regional decision-making bodies, an ‘Indigenous Representatives Council’ was established to resolve indigenous issues and reserve seats in the Regional Duma (parliament) for Chukotka’s indigenous peoples (Diatchkova 2010). Despite these developments, however, there is still no clear indication that indigenous peoples have any meaningful representation in regional or federal government institutions. Survey research conducted through the international Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA) project found that indigenous respondents “[considered] the governorship of Roman Abramovich especially warmly” (Abryutina 2007a). At the same time, at the end of Abramovich’s time in office, Diatchkova (2010: 226) noted: The participants of the 2009 Congress of Chukotka’s indigenous peoples also discussed the absence of any critical information on regional politics or indigenous issues in the media. This is the main reason for the lack of knowledge in respect of indigenous rights among current indigenous representatives. Under current governor Roman Kopin, there have been some attempts to address the development of indigenous peoples in the region. As noted above, often this involves struggles with the federal government for resources to fund programs to support traditional livelihoods such as marine mammal hunting. In a recent interview, the Head of the Department of Social Policy, Anastasia Zhukova commented that “the government will continue to solve the problems of the indigenous population of the district” (Masalova 2015). Although the government’s intentions are clearly worded, this topdown, paternalistic approach to development simply reinforces the power of the state over indigenous peoples in the region, rather than allowing them to have greater control over their lives and their land. Legislation on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Although the Putin era has brought political and economic stability to Russia, it has also been characterized by increasing political repression, especially of political opponents and organizations that function outside the state. During the late Soviet and immediate post-Soviet period, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were an important means to develop Russian civil society, and could rely on external financial support from foreign organizations (Daucé 2010). By the mid-2000s, however, civil society had been largely coopted by the state through the creation of bodies such as the Public Chamber and the increasing repression of NGOs. In 2006, the federal government passed legislation On Introducing Amendments into Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation, commonly referred to as the “NGO Law” (Crotty & Hall 2013). Among other things, this law required groups to register with the state and divulge personal information regarding their members and founders. It allowed state officials unrestricted access to group meetings including private policy and campaigning activities, and required reporting of foreign financial support, including how funds were being obtained and spent, effectively restricting funding to domestic sources (Crotty & Hall 2013). In July of 2012, additional legislation required NGOs with political activities and foreign funding to register as ‘foreign agents’ and submit a report of their financial activities every quarter (Crotty, Hall & Ljubownikow 2014). As a result, the state actively discriminates against internationally integrated NGOs and western-funded human rights organizations (Frohlich 2012). In fact, recently enacted Wilson & Kormos