8 Feb 2019 17:30

Sakhalin deputes suggest that Kuril residents be polled about islands' belonging

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK. Feb 8 (Interfax) - A group of deputies of the Sakhalin Region Duma has suggested that the regional administration poll residents of the Kuril Islands in order to end the discussion of the national belonging of the archipelago, one of the deputies, Vitaly Gomilevsky, told Interfax on Friday.

"We made this proposal to the head of region, and he agreed. It seems he has made a similar decision himself. We are tired of hearing this nonsense, especially from the media, which keeps telling the story but does not report an opinion," Gomilevsky said, adding they had not filed a formal request to the acting governor but "had a number of personal contacts."

It is up to the regional authorities to decide who will carry out the poll, when, and in what form.

Gomilevsky said he had not thought about how to formulate the question. "I have not thought about it. The main question is how to respond to the Japanese claims, to say that these are our islands, this is Russia," he said.

One possible question is whether Kuril residents "support the Japanese claims and which country, in their opinion, the islands belong to," Gomilevsky said.

The goal of the poll is "to tell the international public that it is time the debates ended and that this is an inseparable part of the Russian Federation and its constituent territory, the Sakhalin region," he said.

Acting Sakhalin Governor Valery Limarenko told Channel One on Thursday that the regional authorities planned to carry out a poll on the Kuril Islands "in order to end the discussion."

"All we should do is to carry out a serious, well-governed, and sweeping poll of the entire population of the Kuril Islands, the people who live, work, and raise their children on these islands. Let the world know about it," Gomilevsky said.

The acting governor's press service has declined to comment on the poll.

A people's assembly and an authorized rally took place in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in January 2019 and late December 2018 to demand that the national administration "remove the so-called peace treaty from the agenda of Russian-Japanese talks as a way of legalizing transfers of land in violation [of Article 4] of the Russian Constitution."