Locals Build Monument on Kunashir Island After Amendments

  • The local authorities of Kunashir Island erected a monument on the island praising Russia.
  • A map of Russia is engraved on the monument including the "Northern Territories."
  • The memorial plate was installed on July 2nd, one day after the vote.

Russia voted July 1st on the constitutional amendments that were proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the beginning of the year.  Over 70% of Russian citizens voted in favor of the changes. However, ballot tampering was observed in certain areas. of Russia.

A constitutional referendum was held in Russia from 25 June to 1 July 2020. The amendments include one allowing President Putin to run again for two more six-year presidential terms, something he has not yet ruled out. Critics have accused him of plotting to stay in power for life, while supporters have lauded the inclusion of the amendment.

There are 206 amendments to the Russian constitution now. One of the amendments contains a clause pertaining to the inadmissibility of any alienation of the Russian territories. Of course, Russia, with its repertoire, immediately decided to show it means business.

The local authorities of Kunashir Island, which is one of the Kuril Islands in dispute with Japan, erected a monument on the island praising Russia. The granite stele is engraved with the following inscription:

“The Constitution of the Russian Federation. part 2 of article 67. The Russian Federation ensures the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Actions aimed at alienating part of the territory of the Russian Federation, including calls for such actions, are not allowed.”

On it, in addition to the above constitutional amendment, a map of Russia is engraved. The “Northern Territories” are included in it. This is to show the island is indeed Russian. The Kremlin has no plans to ever return it to Japan.

Kunashir Island, possibly meaning Black Island or Grass Island in Ainu, is the southernmost island of the Kuril Islands archipelago. The island is currently under Russian control, though Japan also claims the island. It lies between the straits of Kunashir Island, Catherine, Izmena, and South Kuril.

Article 67 is the same article that will be used to annex the Donbass and Luhansk regions to the full jurisdiction of Russia. The article refers to the Russian Federation as:

“The legal successor of the Soviet Union and its territory, as well as in respect of membership in international organizations, their bodies, participation in international treaties and in respect of obligations stipulated by international treaties and Soviet assets outside the Russian Federation.”

The Kuril Islands with Russian names. Borders of Shimoda Treaty (1855) and Treaty of St. Petersburg (1875) shown in red. Since 1945 all islands northeast of Hokkaido have been administered by Russia.

Interestingly, the memorial plate was installed on July 2nd. That is, one day after the vote on the amendments. Therefore, it further proves the point that the vote was just a formality, and the plate was already manufactured ahead of the vote. The local head of the administration made a statement.

“The Residents of our district expressed support for the amendments to the new Constitution. The territory of these Islands will remain Russian land forever.” Thus, he expressed the firm position of the local population on the inadmissibility of the transfer of the “Northern territories” to Japan.

There were tensions last month, when Russia notified Japan of its intent  to conduct geological exploration in the Sea of Okhotsk for the next three months. The area covers the four disputed Kuril Islands of Shikotan, Iturup, Habomai and Kunashir. In Japan, they are referred to as the “Northern Territories,” or “Southern Chishima.”

However, Japan still hopping to continue negotiations with the Kremlin, despite the new amendments. It is highly unlikely Japan will get the territories from Russia.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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