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According to the 2010 national census, there are 7,953 Koryaks in the Russian Federation. Koryaks are ethnically and linguistically close to Chukchi. Koryak was established as a literary language in 1932 using a Latin script and in 1937 converted to Cyrillic. Koryaks mainly live in what was formerly the Koryak Autonomous Okrug, now merged into Kamchatka Krai.

Historical context

In December 1990, the Okrug Soviet sought to convert the Koryak Autonomous Okrug (AOk) to a republic as an indication of the rights of the peoples of the Russian Far East to assert their indigenous rights, especially over the area’s rich gold deposits. The Koryak AOk is one of the least populated regions of Russia.

Current issues

In October 2005 the populations of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug (AOk) and neighbouring Kamchatka Oblast (province) voted to merge their regions in a referendum. Kamchatka Krai, the new entity composed of the two regions, came into being in January 2007.

In September 2014, the parliamentary assembly of Kamchatka Krai introduced a bill aimed at reconsidering the management of those territories that have been traditionally used by indigenous peoples. The bill set out a proposal to considerably reduce their area and to prevent indigenous peoples from cultivating the land in the south of the Kamchatka Krai region – a move that deprives many of the ability to maintain traditional livelihoods such as fishing.

Updated December 2020