Staunton, September 22 – In a break with recent practice but a return to harsher Soviet traditions, Moscow has blocked several representatives of its numerically small nationalities from travelling to New York to attend a United Nations conference of such peoples from around the world which opens today.
FSB officers confiscated the Russian passport of Rodion Sulyandziga, one of the leaders of the numerically small peoples of the North, at Sheremetyevo airport thus preventing him from attending the New York meeting where he was to be a co-chair of the Roundtable on Lands, Territories and Resources (nazaccent.ru/content/13225-predstavitelyam-korennyh-malochislennyh-narodov-ne-dali.html).
Two days earlier, he reported, the FSB did the same thing to Anna Naykachina, a senior leader of this community, and Russian officials appear to be behind delays that have prevented Valentina Sovkina, the chairman of the Saami parliament of the Kola Peninsula, from attending the New York meeting as well.
And Russian officials have also blocked several Crimean Tatars from travelling to New York. On September 18, they seized the passport of Nadir Bekirova, the director of the International Foundation for Research and Support of the Indigenous Peoples of Crimea, in order to prevent her from attending.
The meeting will be addressed by the leader of one numerically small people that Moscow is no longer in a position to prevent from taking part: Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves whose country has played a key role in developing cooperative relations among the Finno-Ugric nations inside and outside the borders of the Russian Federation.