Article by Sakhalin Independent
Aborigines' protest action: picketing suspended, not stopped

Sakhalin indigenous people suspended picketing of some infrastructure objects of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects on January 25.

Coordinators of the protest action 'Green Wave' that was launched on January 20 with blocking of a road to the Sakhalin-1 Chayvo facility stressed that the action is not stopped. "The action was suspended to reduce the public tension in the Nogliki district," the coordinators said in a press release.

"We are now preparing for the second stage of picketing," Alexei Limanzo, head of the regional indigenous people association, reported, according to the press release. "Next time, we will block not only main roads to the [Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2] facilities, but also minor roads. We will also use other form of protest."

Limanzo stressed that the action will be resumed only if negotiations with Sakhalin oil and gas companies does not bring any results.

On January 25, organisers of the action ? the association teamed with several environmental organisations and some local branches of political parties ? sent a resolution of the protest action to the regional administration and the oil and gas project's operators. The resolution, signed by some 200 indigenous people who participated in the action, calls on the companies to sign a memorandum prepared by the organisers. The memorandum envisages conducting of a full ethnological survey of the projects, creation of a special indigenous people sustainable development fund and creation of a regional indigenous people's advisory council. The council would allow Sakhalin aborigines to take part in decisions concerning protection of their natural habitat, the press release said.

In the resolution, the participants also appeal to the Russian president, the chairmen of the Federation Council and the State Duma, the presidential envoy in the Far East, Sakhalin governor and chairman of the Sakhalin Duma with a request to protect their natural habitat, traditional way of living and the rights provided by the Russian constitution and the current legislation. They also ask the authorities to mediate between the aborigines and the oil and gas companies.

The protesters intend to wait for a reply from the oil companies until February 1. If no reply is received, the protesters will block roads to the Sakhalin-1 Chayvo facility and the Sakhalin-2 Lunskoye site. "Apparently, the picketing will be resumed," the organisers believe.