By Iwgia, May 5, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Oil workers are trying unsuccessfully to extend a road to an oil field through a sacred lichen grove on Khanty ancestral lands 180km from Nizhnevartovsk in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia.
On April 28, Representatives of the Khanty community of Nizhnevartovsk district blocked operations of the “Varyoganneft” oil company which is building a road through a sacred lichen grove to an oil deposit on the Khanty’s ancestral lands.
Local residents erected a Chum (a Siberian nomad tent) to block passage of the company’s equipment and are not planning to remove it until the oil workers leave.
According to community representative Alexander Aipin, the Agan lichen grove is a sanctuary and a place where the Khanty have worshiped the patroness of the Agan river for many centuries.
The community’s lawyer, Galina Obolenskaya, who is also a member of the city council of Raduzhny, says that the representatives of the company are unable to produce the necessary permits for the operation, therefore, their actions are unlawful: “The oil company has neither the legal nor the moral right to work on these lands. These are territories of traditional nature use. Indigenous peoples assert their right to live on their traditional lands where their ancestors lived”.