• Indigenous peoples in Russia

    Indigenous peoples in Russia

    Of the more than 180 peoples inhabiting the territory of contemporary Russia, 40 are officially recognised as indigenous. While the Russian constitution and national legislation set out the rights of “indigenous minority peoples of the North”, there is no such concept as “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” enshrined in legislation.
  • Peoples

    180 peoples are inhabiting the territory of contemporary Russia. Of these, 40 are officially recognised as indigenous peoples 5 million Tatars are not officially considered indigenous peoples
  • Rights

    2007: Russia abstains from voting for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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  • Russia: Many indigenous people may lose right to early retirement

Russia: Many indigenous people may lose right to early retirement

Lives of indigenous people in Russia are short. There are no exact figures, but estimates are that if you are indigenous, you die on average 10 to 20 years before members of mainstream society do. Due to this massive disadvantage, Russia has a special pension scheme for indigenous peoples: The legal retirement age for indigenous men is 55, for women it is 50. And yet, according to census figures, of the 260,000 members of indigenous minority peoples in Russia just 10% are over fifty.

Now, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection has proposed a revised pension scheme that will deprive a large number of indigenous people of this right.

On 1 January 2015, legislation entered into force that limited the right to early retirement to indigenous peoples “permanently residing in areas of residence of minority peoples of the North on the appointed date.” What are these areas? In 2009, the Russian government adopted a list including the residence areas of the 40 officially recognized indigenous peoples of the North, however it is draft decree, the Labour Ministry without further explanation uses a much shorter list dating back to the year 1993, when only 22 peoples had been officially registered, thereby excluding e.g. indigenous people in the entire South of Kamchatka peninsula from early retirement.

How is this possible? The term “minority peoples of the North” used in the pensions law is an outdated expression, which was since 2001 replaced by the more precise “indigenous minority peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East”, which is also the term used in the 1994 Russian Constitution. This appears to have been a sufficient pretext for the ministry to arbitrarily use a document two decades out of date in order to save a very minor amount of pension spending.

As such, tying the right to early retirement to the place of registration at an appointed date is already bound to be a source of massive problems. At advanced age, indigenous people with medical problems tend to move to places where they have better access to medical care. With the proposed measure, many of them will have to make the choice between getting health care and getting their pension.



IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

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