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Residents Of Russia's Remote North Want Autonomy Back

Residents of the Taimyr Peninsula in a remote part of northern Russia are calling for a referendum that would restore the area's former status as an autonomous region.

Activists who support the change lodged a formal request with the Electoral Commission of the Krasnoyarsk Krai -- a huge region whose capital is more than 1,000 kilometers south of Taimyr -- to stage a referendum on the issue.

Activist Stella Kokh told RFE/RL on July 26 that representatives of another former autonomous region, Evenkia, had sent a letter to the Constitutional Court on July 25 urging it to "assess" the federal law under which Taimyr and Evenkia lost their autonomous status within the Krasnoyarsk Krai on January 1, 2007.

Taimyr and Evenkia -- whose residents include members of the indigenous, traditionally nomadic Nenets, Nganasan, Dolgan, and Evenk peoples -- have been fighting to restore their status as autonomous regions since 2009.

They say that local infrastructure, medical services, education facilities, and housing have been in decline because taxes from local industrial facilities go to central Krasnoyarsk Krai coffers instead of serving local needs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's 2003-2008 campaign to unite federal regions eliminated six out of 10 autonomous regions with indigenous populations, merging them into larger administrative areas.