President Vladimir Putin has signed the laws "On guaranteed rights of the indigenous minorities of the Arctic zone, Siberia and Far East" and "On granting ethnic minorities the right of alternative civilian service", reported Friday Minister for Nationalities Vladimir Zorin.
August 9 marks International Day of Indigenous Peoples.
The minister noted that he had recently met with President Putin and was assigned some tasks concerning the creation of more favourable living conditions for these peoples, that is the development of their traditional economic modes and lifestyle, preservation of the language and improvement of education and healthcare.
Zorin pointed out that ethnic minorities is an important element of the Russian nationalities policy.
According to the minister, "Russia is the seat of 65 indigenous peoples with a strength of several hundred people to tens of thousands". The aggregate population of the ethnic minorities is over half a million.
According to Zorin, the government has recently shown heightened interest in these ethnic groups.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969