Agne Cepinskyte

Since the late 1980s, international law as well as academic scholarship have been devoting increasing attention to the security of Indigenous peoples. The international community has accepted Indigenous peoples as collective actors with distinct rights under international law. Similarly, academic scholarship has recognised them as both referent objects of security and, to an extent, security actors. Post-Cold War transformations in the Arctic exemplify the special role of Indigenous peoples in the field of security. However, their security still largely depends on the policy of states under whose jurisdiction they live. Russia’s domestic policy developments, particularly amid the increased suppression of civil society since 2011, have deviated from the course of international law and scholarship. While policy-makers have persistently referred to the protection of Indigenous peoples as one of the primary objectives of Russia’s Arctic policy, human rights bodies have repeatedly noted the government’s violations of Indigenous rights, especially in the context of the ‘foreign agent’ legislation and gas infrastructure development in the Yamal peninsula. Instead of treating this discordance as merely a case of dishonest political rhetoric, this article aims to explain it by exposing the government’s paternalistic relation to society, which underlines Russia’s policy. It thereby reveals a paradox of state-determined self-determination – a rejection of this right as inherent in peoples. The article concludes that Russia’s denial of this right compromises Indigenous security, because the government alone cannot ensure its protection. Such findings could facilitate a critical assessment of the protection of Indigenous security in states whose regimes dominate society.

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