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Siberian Indigenous Activists Flee Russia Fearing For Safety


The activists are known for their campaign to shut down coal-mining operations in regions inhabited by the Turkic-speaking Shor people (pictured), one of Siberia's oldest indigenous groups.

Two prominent activists for the rights of Siberia's indigenous peoples, Vladislav and Yana Tannagashev, have had to leave Russia fearing for their safety, the Memorial human rights center says.

Memorial representative Stefania Kulayeva told RFE/RL on April 18 that the couple from the Kemerovo region and their children are currently in an EU country.

The Tannagashevs are known for their campaign to shut down coal-mining operations in regions inhabited by the Turkic-speaking Shor people, one of Siberia's oldest indigenous groups, which currently numbers some 13,000 people.

The two activists say that coal mining damages the local environment.

According to Kulayeva, the Tannagashev family had been under constant government surveillance and their telephones had been bugged.

"Police several times urged them to renounce their activities and security officers put pressure on them, summoning their friends and relatives for questioning," Kulayeva said.

Yana Tannagasheva was fired from a local school where she was working as a teacher, and the couple's house burned down in a suspected arson attack in November 2017.

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