The Interpreter

A special project of Institute of Modern Russia
Photo by Christiaan Triebert

Karelians Seek International Recognition of Russia’s Occupation of Their Republic

Staunton, May 14 – In another case of blow-back from Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, activists in Karelia are seeking international recognition of the occupation of their republic and the holding of a referendum on independence, a step they say will end the genocide the Russian authorities have inflicted on the region and restore historical justice.

On their own site, “Stop the Occupation of Karelia,” and in a petition on the site of the US White House, the Karelian activists appeal to the international community to “help return the territory of the Ukhta Democratic Republic into the legal field and to recognize the fact of its occupation”.

In their appeal and petition, the activists also call for an end to “the genocide of the indigenous population of Karelia which has been organized by the authorities of Russia” via the imposition of “unbearable conditions” on the places of “the historic settlement of Karels, Finns, Wepsy and Saami peoples.”

And they also call on all residents of Karelia to view as “illegitimate” the Moscow-imposed authorities in the republic and to set elections for a new president and council of ministers and to support a referendum on restoring the existence and sovereignty of the Ukhta Democratic Republic.

That republic, which was proclaimed on April 1, 1920, was recognized by Finland, the activists note, but it was suppressed by the Russian Red Army together with Finnish communists shortly thereafter.

This is the third such proposal advanced by groups within the borders of the Russian Federation since Moscow organized voting in Ukraine’s Crimea. In St. Petersburg, democratic activists sought a referendum to show that referenda don’t work in Russia. And in Kaliningrad, regionalists called for one on the restoration of that exclave’s historic name, Koenigsberg.