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Russia: "Blow us up together with our sacred mountain!"

February 9 2015

Demolished house in Kazas
About the disastrous situation in the village of Kazas, Kemerovo region

Vladislav Tannagashev

The below article by Shor activist Vladislav Tannagashev was originally published in Russian in late October 2014. In the meantime, the situation he describes has further deteriorated. The Shor village of Kazas has been entirely demolished, which just one roof left standing. Villagers have lost their property and not received any suitable resettlement land, some are reported homeless. Their sacred mountain, the Karagai-Nash no longer exists, it was removed by the excavators. More background information on this case is available from an IWGIA Briefing Note on coal mining in the Kuzbass region as well as from IWGIA Human Rights Report 18 on indigenous peoples in Russia.

In 2004, the regional Council of people's deputies of Kemerovo region transferred the territory of the Chuvashka national (indigenous) rural Council (over 160,000 hectares) into the administration of Novokuznetsk district. Later the status of the rural  Council, which ensured the indigenous peoples control over this land, was abolished. Thus, residents of the settlements Chuazas, Toz, Chuvashka and Kazas had lost the ability to maintain their traditional economic activities and to dispose of their ancestral lands. This was the beginning of the systematic destruction of places of compact residence, traditional economic activities and of the natural means of existence of the Shor people within this territory.

Later, mining companies converted these lands into environmental disaster zones. The earth shaking from the explosions, houses being destroyed, coal dust hanging in the air, rivers flowing with black water.

In 2011 alone, five licenses were sold for exploration and mining of coal, located on the lands of the former Chuvashka National Rural Council, the territory on which the Shors had been leading their traditional way of for millennia. This earth fed us. We treated her carefully. And she would have continued to feed us for millennia, if it weren’t for the criminal greed of mining companies and the connivance of the authorities.

A blatant example of the failed politics of the regional administration was the fate of the inhabitants of the village of Kazas, whose rights have been violated and against whom heinous crimes have been committed.

The Shor village of Kazas has been completely destroyed, houses were demolished, some have been burned. Residents are forced to relocate, they have no access to their private property, they are not allowed to pass through the checkpoint the mining enterprise has erected on their land.

People who stood up to protect the rights of citizens are being prosecuted.

The following films offer full information about our situation. I urge you not to remain indifferent and carefully watch these videos.

The film "Tsena" ("the Price") is the most complete and accurate compilation of information about the situation that is unfolding. The film describes the history of the old Shor village of Kazas, or, more precisely, the last page of its history.

The next film is the doctoral work of Shor photographer Nelly Tokmagasheva about her home Kazas. She graduated from Kemorovo State University of Culture and Arts

The majority of citizens of Myski city support the remaining residents of Kazas village in their efforts to protect the home, they have jointly sent a video message to president Putin, urging him to protect their rights.

Vladislav Tannagashev

Chairman of the public organization "Rebirth of Kazas and the Shor people"

Source: Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples (in Russian)