Socio-ecological Union

The Newsletter of
the Socio-Ecological Union
A Center for Coordination
and Information

Moscow, Russia -- special Issue, January 19, 2005




  Sakhalin Association of Indigenous Peoples Protest Pipeline Development in Russian Far East.
   The Sakhalin Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North have chosen January 20, 2005 as a day to protest the two oil and gas pipelines that are being developed by Exxon, Shell, British Petroleum, Sakhalin Energy and their subsidiaries. The indigenous peoples of Sakhalin, who practice a traditional self-subsistence economy based on fishing, hunting, reindeer herding and wild plant gathering, disproportionately suffer the negative ecological impacts of the pipeline project.
   Structural engineering has destroyed reindeer pastures and forests and works on the shelf have led to an abrupt decline in fish stocks, making traditional handicrafts the only source of livelihood. The absence of complete and reliable project information and the companies' unwillingness to seriously dialogue with indigenous peoples' organizations have forced them to commence a process of civil disobedience.
   Agreement, signed by oil companies' representatives and two representatives of Sakhalin indigenous peoples' groups, has not changed the plans for action "Green wave". It will start on January 20 in Nogliki region of Sakhalin. Several indigenous peoples' groups, like native nivkh's communities, Sakhalin Evenks, Sakhalin Nanaytsy community, Association of Indigenous People of Nogliki Region, Association of Indigenous People of Sakhalin Region, Association of Indigenous People of Russia.
   Expert group, including Chairman of Russian Independent Environmental Assessment Vladimir Anikeev, State Duma expert on Indigenous people issues Olga Murashko and lawyer of NGO Legal Center Rodnik Ekaterina Khmeleva, analyzed the Agreement and came to a conclusion that it was "merely a declaration of intentions". It lacks specific agreement features like subject of agreement, obligations of oil companies (like environmental and ethnological assessment, minimization of harm), no mechanisms and directions for cooperation, no responsible agreement parties.
   This agreement may not be considered as a base for further relation between indigenous people of Sakhalin and oil companies. Indigenous people representative insist on signing of Memorandum that was elaborated by the communities and put on the table on negotiations between indigenous groups and oil companies. Oil industry failed to sign it yet.
   On the contrary, representatives of Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd and Exxon Oil and Gas Ltd are putting pressure upon participants of Green Wave protest action. For past several days their representatives visited indigenous people settlements and tried to persuade them not to participate in the action. They also threatened to fire those employees who would participate in the action - about 30 indigenous people representative are involved in different oil companies' projects. These people receive threats to be fired even if their relative would participate in the protest. For today there was a meeting with indigenous groups scheduled by Exxon Oil and Gas Ltd - also aimed to persuade people to withdraw form the action.
   Green Wave organizers became aware that oil companies' security squads arrived in Nogliki settlement on January 19, also to put pressure on protesters. Action organizers called on oil companies to keep within legal and ethical norms, however no one knows how things will end up today and tomorrow.

   Additional information:
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk: tel. +7 (4242) 42-41-53, +7 (4242) 27-00-76 fax. +7 (4242) 74-75-18, Alexander Markov, Dmitry Lisytsyn e-mail: (Sakhalin Environmental Watch) Nogliki +7 (4242) 44-17-52, Alexey Limanzo.

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  SEU Times issued by: Olga Zakharova
  ISEU Information Service