Reindeer Herders, Chukchi First to Vote in Russia

March 9, 2008 • Philip BurgessReindeer Herders

(Pic AFP) A new President has been elected in Russia – and given the fact that most reindeer herders in Russia live in remote regions without roads, they are the first to vote, a fact that was much covered across the media. This story features an interview with a reindeer herder in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The recent EALAT workshop in Chukotka saw this at first hand with their visit to reindeer herders in Brigade 4, North of Kanchalan which had already been visited by snowmobiles and ballot boxes on February 16th.

(Pic: Philip Burgess. Election station in Anadyr, March 2nd, Chukotka) Native peoples were strongly represented in the election materials on view in the regional capital, Anadyr. Election time in Russia is one of the few times that Chukotka makes it into the national and international media, as it is the first region in the country to vote, being 9 hours ahead of Moscow. The turnout in Chukotka was one of the highest, with a record 83.5% turnout being widely quoted. The Governor of the okrug, Roman Abramovich was also making one of his rare trips to the region for the election, his private Boeing 767 sitting on the Anadyr runway as the EALAT team flew home.

(Pic: Svein Mathiesen. Anders Oskal at the new slaughter house in Kanchalan) The impact of the Governors policies on Chukotka are as visible as they are far reaching. ‘Roman Abramovich’s Chukotka Project’ in openDemocracy is an interesting account of the oligarch’s impact, which for reindeer herders is most visible in the construction of a modern slaughter house in the village of Kanchalan, a village of 750 people, the vast majority of whom are Chukchi and involved in reindeer husbandry.

Read a brief seminar report and pictures here on the Reindeer Portal 


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