#access to information, #indigenous peoples, #коренные народы, #доступ к информации

Nothing about us without us: access to information makes indigenous peoples stronger

The Report on Access to Information by Indigenous Peoples, written by a UN independent expert Alexey Tsykarev (in his personal capacity) and a Finno-Ugric lawyer and activist Vasily Nemechkin, was presented to the audience in Petrozavodsk on 6 February, 2018. This report is an attempt to elaborate on the implementation of one of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, without which there would be difficult to implement other rights. According to the international standards, indigenous peoples should be able to participate in decision-making when it comes to measures or project affecting them. This right includes the upholding of the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This norm stresses the need for providing indigenous peoples with all necessary information in a timely manner, in order for indigenous peoples to be able to effectively participate in consultations and negotiations with the public authorities and the private sector.


The report touches upon infrastructure, ways and means, which indigenous peoples can utilize to have access to information. First of all, the authors provide the reader with the national and provincial legal framework and international standards in the sphere of the access to information. Co-writers identified main challenges and trends indigenous peoples face. This knowledge helps to understand those areas of interest, where indigenous peoples especially need access to information. These areas are: rights of indigenous peoples, state and municipal services, cyberspace and the media, information in indigenous native languages. Further, the co-writers gathered information about advanced practices and gaps existing in the two particular regions: republics of Karelia and Mordovia. The report is followed by findings, conclusions and recommendations.


The methodology included gathering information from open sources, desk review and analysis, interviews of activists and journalists. For instance, the writers analyzed outcome documents of the congresses of indigenous peoples, laws, law enforcement practice, media articles and studies. The report has a strong comparative element focusing on two different regions: Karelia and Mordovia. These two regions are areas of residence for kindred Finno-Ugric Peoples, who are actively involved in different cooperation platforms of Finno-Ugric Peoples. Many problems indigenous peoples from these two regions face are similar: language assimilation, depopulation, urbanization, lack of participation in decision-making. From the other hand, the two regions significantly differ by the territory, infrastructure development, legal basis and institutions. The report provides examples of advanced practices from both regions as well as identifies trends in the sphere of access to information.


This report was prepared with support of Article 19, and was very well received by the audience in Karelia. Representatives of civil society, human rights community and the authorities had a chance to reflect on the topic. The report provides an opportunity for Finno-Ugric peoples to take a lead in fostering a discussion and present the views of Finno-Ugric movement on this important topic. 

English version of the report

Russian version of the report

TV coverage (in Karelian)

Press coverage (in Karelian)