Russian seaport expansion threatens indigenous villages

“Laplandian” posts to Infoshop News, Jan. 26:

The government of Leningrad Oblast (Saint-Petersburg Region) is planning to expand the Ust-Luga Seaport, which is to become the largest seaport in Russia. According to the plan, all villages nearby the construction site are going to be demolished, and their population will be offered apartments in other areas. The villages Krakol’e and Luzhitsy, both located in the seaport area, are the only surviving compact settlement of the [Finnic] Votia nation. According to archaeological data, the Votians are the most ancient indigenous nation of Ingria [region], who became practically extinct after Stalinist dispersion to Soviet provinces far away.

Only about 30 of the Votians still remember their native language; most of them live in Krakol’e and Luzhitsy. Some activists are running language and culture classes in the local school and organize folklore festivals, trying to pass their culture to the next generation. Displacing the Votians from their homeland will almost certainly result in total assimilation on this ancient nation in the next 20-30 years.

Though is no feasible way to stop the expansion of the Ust-Luga Seaport, which will also cause a great deal of environmental damage, it might be still possible to convince the government to preserve at least these two villages, and to declare some sort of “reservation,” if enough people would protest against this terrible plan. According to the Russian Constitution, the Votians are considered an indigenous nations and have the right to continue living in their homeland.

See our last post on Russia.