Submitted by Yuri Klitsenko, Russia
[Ed. Note:] The pictures at the end of this article are from a Siberian illustrated books for children, which to us explains one of the reasons why there is so much indifference to violence and the suffering of other living beings, particularly among most religious people.
Cannibalism was absolutely a real problem in Siberia, because some tribes were human eaters indeed. Rare cases of cannibalism had been registered by Soviet authorities even in the 1950s.
Certainly there were cannibals among Evenkis too, because Evenkis had problems with recognizing cannibals, who spoke the same language, wore the same clothes as normal humans.
According to Evenki tradition Evenkis had right to kill cannibals, but there were inter-marriages too. For example one story describes how Evenki hunter managed to kill a very skilled human eater and took his wife and children prohibiting them to eat human flesh. This is quite possible because women were very expensive, so poor Evenki could be happy to get a cannibal's wife for free.
In the twentieth century Soviet style cannibals became known to Evenkis. As it is known, some prisoners of Stalin's GULAG practiced cannibalism to survive. That is why Evenki word "Changit" ("cannibal") changed its meaning from "stranger" into "escaper from prison". In the Soviet period, GULAG runaways were identified with ancient "cannibals". In a case that is well known in criminal milieu "escape with a cow" "new Changits" ate a weak companion in order not to die of hunger.
Modern Evenki children tell stories how hungry escaper from GULAG ate his own leg, running away from prison on the other leg. These kids mistakenly mix up "changit" (cannibal) with "khalganchuluk" and "chulugdy" (one legged and one eyed spirits of Evenki mythology). Still all kinds of horror stories about human eaters remain popular in Siberia.