SLAVERY IN RUSSIA.
STILL EXISTING IN THE NORTH. The Novoe Vremya is publishing a series of articles relating to the decadence and misery of the tribes in extreme Northern Russia, which - are attributed mainly to Government neglect of the Polar tracts. The tribesmen ate at the complete mercy of unscrupulous fur traders, and have been reduced by them to absolute ruin. Here is a typical passage from one of the articles : — ' "';.>": ' " The. wretched natives are victimised to such a degree that entire tribes are virtually the bondsmen of their oppressors. Slavery, which is supposed to have been abolished in Russia, still exists in the-extreme north, accompanied by all its old horrors and cruelties. Its existence is' officially recognised ; the. victims are described "in official- documents as "*' deprived of liberty.' '..■'• " The worst oppressors of the Samoyedes are themeslves natives who have become more or less Russified. The most relentless of all 'the so-called traders' are a tribe of Zyrians living on the banks of the River Ijima. They own. the herds of reindeer which should by right belong to the Samoyedes, and 'actually control 400,000 of . these animals; Their avidity and inhumanity towards the sim-ple-minded, credulous Samoyedes are almost beyond belief. "The • callous indifference of the Government to the fate of the Samoyedes is shown by the iact that a man who had made a fortune out of the natives by giving them old lottery tickets instead of bank-notes, was chosen us an elector for the third Duma. '' In, a case recently heard before the Archangel Court it was proved that many families of the Samovedes in the Bolshaya Zemlya tundra had been deliberately "poisoned, by strychnine, with which their reindeer meat was sprinkled. "A favourite method of swindling the Samoyedes is to assure them that the value v of 100 rouble notes has fallen as low as 70 roubles owing to the late war and the existence of the Duma."
The writer, gives a most interesting account of the breeding and training of reindeer, an industry which is known to have been. followed successfully ■in the Extreme North for upwards of 2500 years.. He adds that a hundred years of modern civilisation and administration have sufficed to destroy- this, source of prosperity. According" to ancient chronicles, the tundras of Northern European Russia used to sustain not less than 2,500,000 reindeer. In recent years the number lias not exceeded 1,000,000, and probably not. more than 200,000 belonging to the Samoyedes survived last year epidemic. During the past century the number of Samoyedes inhabiting the Pctchora basin has fallen 75 per cent.
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