| Yuvan Shestopalov|
Member of Uralican Tribal Council (Term 1)
| In office|
18 March 2008 – 31 October 2009
Member of Uralican Tribal Council (Term 2)
| Assumed office|
1 July 2010
|Born|| 31 July 1980|
Salekhard, Soviet Union
|Alma mater||Uralikan Yliopisto|
|Religion||Uralican Evangelical Baptist Christian|
Yuvan Shestopalov (b. 31 July 1980, Salekhard, USSR) is a Uralican politician and novelist. He is probably best-known outside of Uralica for being the first Nenets to sign the Uralican Constitution, but within Uralica he is better known for transforming Nenets into a respected literary language. He is considered one of Uralica's best authors overall, and he is not only fluent in ten languages, but is recognised as a literary icon in no fewer than six of these.
Yuvan's parents were a pair of textile-factory workers in the city of Salekhard, now known by its Nenets name of Salyakharad. Although Yuvan seemed pretty well-off early in life, his father secretly desired the nomadic life of his ancestors, and his mother felt that the life she was living was deprived of any deeper meaning. Traumatising to the infant Yuvan, his mother committed suicide when he wasn't yet two, leaving his father in a deep depression and unable to care for the child properly. So he was given to an orphanage, and he was told his father had repeated his mother's suicide, when he had actually fled to Nenetsia, specifically Naryan-Mar, to try and start over again in the nomadic ways of the Nenets.
Yuvan had a tough time growing up as a result, learning Russian instead of Nenets in school and being beaten for even trying to speak the language to other Nenets children. Fortunately, this ended when he was six due to Gorbachev taking power. It was around this time that he changed orphanages again, going to one where the speaking, and indeed the teaching, of Nenets was encouraged. Russian was still taught, and was the predominant medium of teaching after he hit the fourth grade in 1991, even as the Soviet Union was imploding on itself. Although he was a troubled child, he found an escape in writing down fantastical ideas on scraps of paper, which was noticed one day by an Orthodox layperson who was at a church service Yuvan was made to attend. He decided to encourage the young man's writing, and began informally monitoring his progress. When he finally entered the high school system (Grade 7, that is) in 1994, his teachers were told to nurture his writing ability. Even though Yuvan was bitter towards the Orthodox Church for being made to go to church when a preteen, he did keep in contact with the layperson, who in his eyes was "the first person who truly cared about him on a personal level."
After graduating from Grade 12 in 1999, he submitted a couple of his stories to a local publisher, but they were rejected. Discouraged, he went north to Naryan-Mar with everything he had to find work. As the oil industry was really beginning to boom, this came easily, but it had its dangers - only two shifts after his, there was a small explosion on one of the rigs, killing a friend he had made.
Things got very complicated, though, in 2001, when he met the father he was told was dead in one of the town's bars, drunk out of his mind. After a long exchange of insults, said father tried to throw a punch at him, but Yuvan dodged, and the punch instead landed upside the head of another patron, who smashed his beer bottle and went at the father. After being told what happened, the police intervened, but not before Yuvan's father got clocked with the broken beer bottle, giving him a severe concussion that left him in a coma and with permanent brain damage.
Distraught over this turn of events, he again returned to writing for the sake of writing, having kept all his stories to himself, in large bundles in the side of his apartment. He continued to work the rigs, and one day in 2003 he met a Russian Evangelical missionary who doubled as an oil worker. Having heard snippets of his story from his colleagues, the old missionary had compassion for the troubled young adult and tried a few times to start conversation with him, but Yuvan would be cold towards him because he was Russian. It later got out that Yuvan saw most Russians as oppressive and deceitful, but there was little that could be done about that until Cataclysm reared its ugly head. The missionary made an ultimate sacrifice, as when the region was peppered by a small meteor storm, this missionary knocked Yuvan back off an oil platform before a tiny meteor struck it, setting it ablaze. He was killed instantly, and the experience was simultaneously traumatic and eye-opening for Yuvan, who would not leave his house for two whole weeks after the fact. When he finally did come out, it was for the missionary's funeral, just as the Robertian Era was dawning. Even in the cold of the Russian winter, where tears would freeze in seconds, Yuvan felt he couldn't stop crying.
It was then that he was given a book he would never forget. The Gospel of Luke had just been declared complete in his language, and for the next week, he wouldn't put it down. Having had no true parentage since he was two, he was a bit skeptical at first, but something clicked in him. After another two months working the rigs, he moved south to Vorkuta, and decided to turn his life around. He gave copies of all his stories to various publishers, and one finally took him on.
He sold enough copies of his stories to enable him to attend university, where he sought to learn the history of his people. However, he had not even finished one year of studies, when the Uralic Purges began and he learned that his people were among those targeted even though they were not in the immediate line of fire. Livid, he began imploring churches in the area to give all Uralics that came to the area sanctuary.
Timing could not have been better for the regional elections to take place. Although not anywhere near versed in finer political details, Yuvan was full of zeal, wanting to provide a sanctuary for the oppressed and turn Vorkuta's reputation around from the days of it being a gulag. Although this zeal made him a target of mockery from his opponents, it struck a chord with the common Vorkutan, and history buffs in the region extolled him for his desire to move forward from past mistakes while learning from them at the same time. He was elected to city council, and immediately set about getting started the work of making Vorkuta into a "haven city." The mayor, himself at the time a nominal Orthodox practitioner, was inspired by Yuvan's willingness to do so much of the administrative work himself and consequently got the entire council involved, speeding the process up dramatically. Although this would cost them considerably more short-term in infrastructure-building and upkeep, it would set the stage for a short economic boom stemming from Uralics of all kinds taking up temporary residence there. Yuvan was openly praised by Ovdey Shlomov (when he was President of Uralicist Movement) for the work he started and that other people, both Russian and Uralic alike, worked together to finish. The infrastructure was indeed kept well past the end of the Purges and would remain unused, but upkept, until Vorkuta's 2009 annexation.
Yuvan himself would be asked to join the Uralicist Movement but would not leave Vorkuta until he was dismissed from his post in late February of 2008 after being told, "You can do more for your people there than you ever could here" by the mayor. He would disagree at the time, but go to Syktyvkar anyway after his dismissal. It didn't take long for Jarkko Salomäki to get him completely on board, and he would be the first Nenets to sign the Uralican constitution. But this was only the beginning of Yuvan's political involvement. He co-founded the peaceful and mostly-Komi Vorkuta Or Bust movement to extend Uralica's borders to at least Vorkuta, and this was semi-sanctioned by Jarkko, who insisted that Yuvan at least be elected to a Tribal Board. He would end up on the Tribal Council for every term spanning a period of March of 2008 to October of 2009, the Fall of 2008 notwithstanding.
After Vorkuta was annexed, Shestopalov returned there to find that most Nenetses wanted him to serve on the Tribal Board, because it was like having a celebrity being accessible to them, but also, they were very grateful for the work he did both in Vorkuta as a politician and elsewhere as a writer. Apparently his stories were very popular amongst Nenetses. So popular, in fact, that he was considered the quintessential writer of the Nenets language. Humbled by the attention he was getting, he accepted candidacy for the Board and was swiftly named its Chairman by the others elected. He would serve this position for eight months before being asked again to run in the Council, which he has for every term since. Popular with his people and with people in Northern Uralica in general, Yuvan still calls Vorkuta home.
His writings number in the dozens. Many of his most famous works are in Nenets and have been self-translated into Russian, English, Komi, Permyak, Selkup, Nganasan, Finnish, Khanty, Mansi, and Hungarian. He has also written two books that were initially Komi, one that was initially Russian, and one that was initially Khanty. In all of Uralikan Yliopisto's Samoyedic Studies literature courses, his works are required reading regardless of the language.
- Describes his current linguistic capabilities as "miraculous" - he is fluent in fourteen languages. His mother tongue is Tundra Nenets, and he also speaks Forest Nenets, Russian, English, Komi, Permyak, Selkup, Nganasan, Finnish, Khanty, Mansi, Plautdietsch, Estonian, Yakut, and Hungarian all flawlessly.
- He is sometimes called "The Samoyedic Shakespeare" as he is the most famous author in both Nenets languages, Selkup, and Nganasan.
- He has a small stake in FK Vorkuta, his favourite football (soccer) club. He also enjoys watching ice hockey, bandy, and surprisingly, figure skating.
- He has a very eclectic musical taste, but claims his favourite band is the punk/grunge band Bring It. He is also quite fond of Pelastus.
- He was baptised by Dr. Matti Koppinen in May 2008. He is a practicing Uralican Evangelical Baptist but also maintains some ties with Uralican Orthodoxy, especially after meeting Nikolay Kosov.
- He says his favourite books of the Bible are the Psalms and the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament, and the Gospel of Luke and Paul's Letter to the Philippians in the New Testament.
- He works part-time as a linguistic consultant to Bible translators, saying that he wants to see the whole Word of God in Tundra and Forest Nenets by the end of 2012 and that he is willing to spare whatever time he can to see this happen.
- Was listed as Uralica's third-most eligible bachelor in 2010 after Jarkko Salomäki and footballer Hessu Öörni.
- He finished a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing by correspondence, completing this in late 2009.