Towards a Saami Assembly in Russia

26-11-2010 Christina Henriksen
Barents Indigenous, original article here

On December 12, the delegates of the Second Saami Congress might elect the First Saami Assembly of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast, Russia. Delegates representing the Saami inhabitants of Murmansk Oblast will gather in Murmansk, as they did in Olenegorsk in 2008, when the Council of Authorized Representatives of the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast (referred to as SUPS MO – Совет Уполномоченных представителей Саамов Мурманской Област) was elected by altogether 72 delegates.

Representatives of the Saami people in Russia have been working towards their goal for since 1992, and the establishment of the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland has certainly set out the grounds for this work. The political cooperation between the Saami in the Nordic countries and the Saami in Russia is strong. It is formalized through the participation in the Saami Parliamentary Council, in which the Saami Parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland are represented, and representatives for the Saami non-governmental organizations in Russia are permanent observers. The Presidents of the Saami Parliaments in Norway and Finland, as well as representatives from the Saami Parliament in Sweden, took part in the First Saami Congress in 2008.

In 2008, the 72 delegates gathered in Olenegorsk elected Valentina V. Sovkina as the Head of the SUPS MO, which consists of 11 representatives. SUPS MO has led the work towards the establishment of a democratically elected Saami Assembly since the Congress. Human rights, reindeer husbandry, management of fishing quotas and codetermination in issues concerning the Saami people in Murmansk Oblast are the main issues for the SUPS MO.

The Regional Administration of Murmansk Oblast participated in the First Saami Congress in Olenegorsk, and the Regional Government of Murmansk Oblast established a separate Council of Representatives of Indigenous Peoples at the Government of Murmansk Oblast. This Council is led by the First vice Governor of Murmansk Oblast and consists of altogether 11 persons, representing various obshina communities and the Regional Public Chamber, appointed by the Regional Government.

The President of the Saami Parliament in Norway, Egil Olli, will take part in the Second Saami Congress in Murmansk, together with the Chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.  Other guests from Saami institutions and organizations in the Nordic countries are also expected as observers to the congress.

Program for the Second Saami Congress in Murmansk Oblast:

December 11th:

13.00    Hoisting of the Saami flag

14.00    Opening of exhibition at Murmansk Regional Museum of Local History

16.00    Concert with Saami ensembles

December 12th:

09.00    The Second Saami Congress, Hotel Park Inn Poliarnie Zori, Murmansk