MAC: Mines and Communities

Russia: Indigenous community leader opposing mining sentenced to 5 years

Published by MAC on 2015-10-17
Source: IWGIA

An opponent of the UK based mining company Petropavlovsk (previously Peter Hambro Mining), who is a leader in the indigenous Evenk community, has been sentenced to 5 years in a penal colony, in what appears at the least to be an overly harsh sentence, and could be a mis-carriage of justice.

More information on Petropavlovsk is available at:

Russia: Evenk community leader opposing UK based gold mining company sentenced to 5 years

Sergey Nikiforov to be sent to to maximum security penal colony

16 October 2015

On September 29, a City court in Blagoveshchensk, the capital of Russia’s Amur region has sentenced Sergey Nikiforov, former head of the village council of Ivanovskoye, Selemdzhinski district, to 5 years in penal colony and a fine of 16 million roubles under charges of bribery. Villagers, most of them indigenous Evenks believe that the charges are fabricated. Nikiforov had been leading the village’s protests against gold mining on Evenk ancestral territories. The British based gold mining company "Petropavlovsk" intends to extract ore from their territories.

On 3 October, the Council of veterans and pensioners of the village held a picket. 87 people gathered at the site of the village Council voicing their outrage over the verdict. They were displaying placards saying: "Freedom for protesting villager Sergei Nikiforov!", "No to fabricated sentences!", "Rule of law! No to judicial arbitrariness!", "Stop political punishment!".

The picket ended with the signing of an appeal demanding Nikiforov’s release and a fair re-trial. The resolution is addressed to the Prosecutor of the Amur region, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. According to the news Agency "", Nikiforov was accused of bribery and abuse of power. He will have to serve the five-year sentence in a maximum-security penal colony. After his release he will be barred from working in senior positions in local government for two years. The court decision has not entered into force and may be appealed.

The villagers believe that the case against Sergei Nikiforov is fabricated. According local sources, the situation began in 2012 when the population of Ivanovo decided to boycott the Russian presidential elections if their opinions would not be heard in the ongoing dispute with gold mining companies. In 2012, protesting residents of Ivanovskoye achieved the cancellation of the license of LLC "Khergu". In 2015, the villagers again came out against gold mining, this time by the British-based mining company "Petropavlovsk". The reason was the fact that mining licenses had been granted by-passing the opinions of the local population living in these areas. In addition the technology used for extracting the ore using heavy explosives, which threatens the local ecosystem.

The adjacent territory has been exploited by mining companies for more than half a century. The affected land is not being recultivated. The deteriorating environmental conditions, have increased morbidity and mortality among the locals. Sergey Nikiforov was the head of the village of Ivanovo and actively defended the interests of the village. Local residents say he is now being made to pay for this. Although he was never convicted before, he was sentenced to 5 years in a penal colony and 16 million rub (260,000 US Dollar) fine, while the bribe he was accused of accepting amounted to only 200,000 rub (3,200 US Dollar).

Following the arrest of their leader, the villagers are facing unprecedented pressure from the regional authorities.

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