12/07/2018, 12.38
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Protests in Buryatia for the union with the Far East

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Local people protest the annexation of the region to the Federal District of the Far East with means losing the advantages of the Siberian energy tariffs. Fears for the facilities for Chinese refugees who are also assigned a hectare of land and now can also settle on the shores of Lake Baikal, easily acquiring citizenship and property rights.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Some hundreds of inhabitants of Buryatia, an autonomous republic located in the Far East of the Russian Federation, have been protesting for days with spontaneous demonstrations in the building of the regional parliament of the capital Ulan-Ude (pictured). The Buriahs protest against the annexation of the region to the Federal District of the Far East, but also against the decision to clear the shores of Lake Baikal and against the reception in the region of Chinese immigrants.

These decisions were made official in early November by President Vladimir Putin, detaching Buryatia from the Siberian District to add it to the more eastern regions. This has sparked the dissatisfaction of many inhabitants of the area, which also includes the other region of the Upper Bajkal (in Russia there are 89 federal subjects, including large cities, regions and republics, divided into some macro-districts). Over 10,000 signatures were collected on the change.org website for the return of the two regions to the Siberian administration.

The petition also states that the inhabitants of Buryatia, due to the decision of Moscow, would lose the advantages of the Siberian energy tariffs, going from a price of 2.75 to 3.5 rubles per kWh. In addition, the protesters express their opposition to accepting the simplification of practices to give citizenship to refugees and immigrants from the People's Republic of China, who are also assigned a hectare of land in the Eastern Far East District, and now can also settle on the shores of Lake Baikal, easily acquiring citizenship and property rights.

Protest slogans repeat "native Bajkal lands must stay with native citizens not sold off to the Chinese". Aleksej Fishev, a press officer of the president of Buryatia Aleksej Tsydenov, met the crowd, but failed to give satisfactory answers. Tsydenov had previously explained that the union with the Eastern District "gives great impetus to the development of the territory".

Buryatia is an ancient region, inhabited by nomadic populations of Protomongolic origin, famous for the culture of "granite tombs" dating back to the Bronze Age. It was part of the medieval Mongol Empire, from which it was separated in 1729 with the definition of the borders between Russia and China. Since then the Buryiati group was formed, about 200 thousand Buddhist people, who under the Soviets constituted the autonomous Burano-Mongolian socialist Republic. The local population has always been very jealous of its historical traditions (in which there are feelings of hostility towards the Chinese) and the integrity of the natural environment, very special and rich in exclusive flora and fauna, especially around the great Lake Baikal, Unesco heritage and one of the "seven wonders" of Russia.

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