1996 | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December | 1998


5 Vyacheslav Kislitsyn took the office of the President of the Republic of Mari El. At the same time, he is the Head of the Government of Mari El. Some changes were made in the structure of government. Nikolay Gavrilov was appointed the Deputy Head of Government on culture, education, ideology and international affairs. Mr. Mikhail Vasyutin was appointed the Minister of Culture and Nationalities; Mr. Vasily Yanalov was appointed his deputy on nationalities, while Mrs. Galina Ivanova continues as his Deputy on Culture.

13 to 14 An international seminar Ingrian Project 1997 to 2000 was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, by the Association of Ingrian Finns Inkerin Liitto and the Committee of Refugees and Resettlers at the Labour Ministry of Finland. Discussed were the roles of the government and the general public in the Ingrian areas of Russia (St. Petersburg, Leningrad district, Karelia) and Finland in elaboration and realisation of the programme for ethnic revival of the Ingrian Finns.

24 In St. Petersburg, the Russian State Duma held its parliamentary hearings on the issue On realisation of the concept of nationalities policy of the Russian Federation on the example of the programme for cultural revival and development of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia. The Duma adopted recommendations to the President, the Government and the Federal Assembly, as well as to the authorities of subjects of the Russian Federation. A proposal was also made to ratify in the State Duma the Convention 169 On Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent States of the International Labour Organisation. The Russian MPs recommended the Government to promptly accept the federal state programme for cultural revival and development of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia. It is planned to allocate, in a separate paragraph in the federal budget, funds for federal programmes of social, economic and cultural development of the peoples of the Russian Federation. Tax benefits, as well as credit benefits will be stipulated for corporate bodies and persons participating in the named programmes.



4 to 6 A delegation of the Mordovian Republic paid a visit to Finland. The delegation was received by the President of Finland Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Mrs. Riitta Uosukainen, the Prime Minister of Finland Mr. Paavo Lipponen and the Minister of Education Mr. Claes Andersen. The visitors also met with a representative of the FinnishRussian Society Mr. Jussi-Pekka Alanen, who is also the Managing Director of the Union of Local Governments. The delegation visited some enterprises and held negotiations on co-operation in various spheres.

20 to 24 Mr. Jaak Prozes, Director of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation, was invited to Finland for celebrations of the 79th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. In different parts of Finland, Mr. Prozes lectured on the present situation of Finno-Ugric peoples and their language and educational problems. It is already the fifth year that the Finnish Union of Estonian Societies (associations of cultural contacts with Estonia) has invited someone from Estonia to lecture on the situation of the Finno-Ugrians at the festivities in honour of the Republic of Estonia.

26 The Fenno-Ugria Foundation held its annual assembly in Tallinn. (See Summary)

27 The Academic Club of Kindred Peoples was re-established in Tartu, Estonia. (See Summary)

28 The Institute of Estonian Language in Tallinn celebrated its 50th anniversary. (See Summary)



Nina Zaitsevas Vepsian Grammar was published in Petroskoi (Petrozavodsk), being the first grammar book of Vepsian in their native language. Nina Zaitsevas was also the translation of the Gospel according to St. Luke into Vepsian, which was published by the Finnish Institute of Bible Translation. The Vepsian Gospels according to St. John and St. Mark were issued last year.

The first prize or the Nanook Award of the festival of ethnographic films of the Museum of Man in Paris was given to Mark Soosaars (Estonia) "Father, Son and Holy Torum". Mark Soosaars new production speaks about the life of the family of a Khanty shaman under the deadly pressure of West Siberian oil industry. The festival, which took place for the 16th time this year, had the participation of another Estonian film, Valentin Kuiks "The Voices" about the Khanty writer and statesman Eremey Aipin.

3 to 4 The Secretariat of the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples held its meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, with participation of the Russian Co-ordinator Valeri Markov (Head of the Consultative Committee, Chairman of the Committee for Revival of the Komi People, Vice-Chairman of the Komi State Assembly), the Hungarian Co-ordinator György Nanofsky (Ambassador of the Hungarian Republic in Russia), the Finnish Co-ordinator Merja Hannus (Secretary General, Finnish-Russian Friendship Society), the Estonian Co-ordinator Andres Heinapuu (Director, Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples), and Kaido Kama (Chairman of the board, Fenno-Ugria Foundation) as a guest. The issue under discussion was the agenda of the forthcoming session of the Consultative Committee (held March 25 to 27 in Tver, Russia). Members of the Secretariat paid a visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Toomas H. Ilves. At a dinner given by the Estonian Minister of Culture Jaak Allik, establishing of the House of Finno-Ugrians Arts (in Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia) was discussed.

4 Two stamps from the Finnish Europe series were released with Mika Launinens illustrations to the Sami folk tale "The Girl Who Was Changed Into A Golden Merganser".

6 In Saransk, the A. P. Ryabov Foundation of the Preservation of the Erzian Language held a discussion of the Draft Programme of National Development and International Co-operation of the Nationalities within the Republic for the Period Until 2000, worked out by the Research Institute of Regional Studies at the Mordvinian Ogaryov University on the commission of the Government of the Republic of Mordovia. During the debates the main speaker I. A. Efimov, member of the Consultative Committee of the Finno-Ugric Peoples and lecturer of the Mordvinian State University, and speakers gave an unequivocal estimation of the project: this is a programme of ultimate and complete Russification of the Erzian, Mokshan and Tatar nations. To that end it is planned to introduce the principles of Russian Orthodoxy and to strengthen the Russian component in all spheres of the society (schools, government offices, radio, television, etc.). About 1 milliard roubles are allotted for the preservation of the Erzian language until the year 2000, while 11 milliards are allotted for the development and promotion of Russian. Participants found the given project to be an example of infringement of the Constitution of Russia and the Constitution of Mordovia. Initially the programme was worked out by the governmental Scientific Research Institute of Language, Literature, History and Economy. The staff of the institute is more qualified, and thus the programme was more concise, better and more specific. However, it was refuted by the government.

6 to 8 The session of the Council of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (YAFUP) was held in Tallinn. At the session, problems of development and co-ordination of cooperation between Finno-Ugrian youth were discussed, the agenda of the forthcoming Congress of YAFUP (to be held in September in Estonia) was specified, and the decision was made to start with a newsletter with Mr. Vladimir Kozlov, editor of the Mari youth newspaper Kugarnya, as its editor-in-chief. On March 6, the participants of the session presented the member organisations of YAFUP at the youth information fair and the next day held a press conference.

9 The first presentation in Ivalo (Finnish Lapland) of the Sami comedy Sagojoga Minister, a joint product of Finland, Sweden and Norway. The script writer and director of the second full-length Sami film is Paul-Anders Simma (the best known of his previous short films is Lets Dance). The story of the film was commented in yoiks by Wimme Saari, music was played by Hedningarna (Sweden). The first full-length Sami film, Nils Gaups The Pathfinder, has been nominated for Oscar.

13 to 14 The Finno-Ugric Peoples Culture Development Fund held its session in Yoshkar-Ola (the Republic of Mari El). The new board of the foundation was elected; Mr. Nikolay Gavrilov was re-elected its director. An application for subsidies was sent to the Ministry of Nationalities and the Ministry of Culture of Russia. At the session, questions were discussed concerning the international conference The Finno-Ugric World in the 21st Century (to be held in the spring of 1998 in Yoshkar-Ola) and the VI Folklore Festival of Finno-Ugric Peoples (July 16 to 21 in Estonia). The session expressed its regrets that Jaak Prozes, Director of the Estonian-based Fenno-Ugria Foundation which is the main organiser of the festival, was not present because of problems with getting visa to Russia.

14 For the second time Estonia celebrated the Day of the Estonian Language and Culture on the anniversary of Kristjan Jaak Peterson, the man who laid the foundation to the Estonian literature.

14 The Kalevala Society was founded in Petroskoi (Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia, Russia). The mission of the Society is to contribute to the improvement of the economic and ecological situation of the Kalevala Region. The region is culturally very significant, as a great part of the basic material for the Finnish national epic has been collected from there. Alexander Fedotov was appointed Chairman and Toivo Makarov Vice-Chairman of the Society.

15 A Livonian folk music group Livlist celebrated its 25th anniversary with a concert in Riga, Latvia.

22 The Seminar on South Estonian Language in Contemporary School took place in Tallinn (Estonia), initiated by Tallinn Pedagogical University and Võru Institute. The discussions centred on the South Estonian language and literature, its relations with Standard Estonian, and the present situation of teaching South Estonian.

24 The meeting of the Hungary-Estonia Society in Budapest, during which the best works of the Society-organised translation contest for Estonian literature were read.

25 The Scientific Practical Conference: The Finno-Ugrian Factor in the Contemporary World took place in Moscow. The conference was organised by the Academy of Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

26 The meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Finno-Ugric Peoples was held in Tver (Russia). The representative of the Tver Karelians who so far had participated in the status of observer was admitted to full membership of the Committee. According to some sources, however, the Tver Karelians were not given an independent vote, but they have to co-ordinate their stand with the Karelians of Karelia in all issues under discussion.

26 The Agreement of Educational Co-operation between the Republic of Karelia (Russia) and Tver Oblast of Russia was signed in Tver. The Agreement stipulates student exchange between the universities of Tver and Petroskoi: Petroskoi will train teachers of the native language for the Tver Karelians, and students from the Republic of Karelia will be able to study at the University of Tver. Moreover, they are planning a co-operation between research institutes and schools, as well as in publishing school textbooks. At present two girls from the Tver Oblast are studying the Karelian and Finnish languages at Petroskoi, and the Institute of Language, Literature and History of the Karelian Centre of Sciences has issued a dictionary of the Tver dialect of Karelian. The agreement is the first step towards building a bridge between Karelia and the Karelians who resettled in Central Russia 380 years ago. There the Karelian language and culture were not favoured by the Soviet authorities, but they have been cultivated since 1990. Today 1753 students in 32 schools are learning the Karelian language.

26 A meeting of the representatives of Erzians and Mokshans living in Mordovia with those living outside its borders. Attending were representatives from the Republics of Chuvash and Bashkortostan, from Orenburg, Nizhni Novgorod and Penza Districts, Moscow, Samara, Ulyanovsk. Representatives of public organisations, scholars and reporters were invited from Saransk. The issues of execution of the Law of National and Cultural Autonomy of Russian Federation from June 17, 1996 were discussed. A report was presented by I. A. Efimov, member of the Consultative Committee of the Finno-Ugric Peoples. It was resolved to start working on the formation of local and regional national cultural autonomies within the subjects of Russian Federation with Erzian and Mokshan population.

27 International scientific conference "The History and Culture of the Tver Karelians" took place in Tver.

March 28 - April 3 Days of the Estonian Culture in Russia; some of the events took place in Syktyvkar, capital of the Komi Republic.


Nikolai Abramov, editor-in-chief of the Vepsian Kodima newspaper, was admitted to the Karelian Writers Association as the first Vepsian author. He wrote the first Vepsian collection of poems, Thirty Three (Koumekümne koume; published 1994). (OM 1997,15).

4 Pekka Zaikov, Chairman of the Karelian Peoples Association, writer and linguist, took his doctoral degree at Mari University, Yoshkar-Ola, with the thesis "Conjugation in the Karelian Language".

5 - 6 The annual meeting of the Karjalan Sivistysseura in Joensuu (Finland). It was resolved to set up two working committees: the Support Group of the Karelian Culture and Cross-Border Co-operation Committee. Pentti Keynäs. The Seura aims to support the Karelian culture both in Finland and in Russian Karelia. Ms Lyudmila Grigoryeva, Chairperson of the Centre of Karelian National Culture, and members of the Board of the Karelian Peoples Association Mr Ivan Savin, Mr Rudolf Toivonen and Mr Aleksandr Volkov participated in the meeting as guests, representing Russian Karelia. The cultural programme presented Finnish Karelian folk groups and the childrens ensemble Oravaizet from Aunus (Olonets, Russia).

8 Press conference in Petroskoi where representatives of the Finnish Red Cross spoke about aid for Russian Karelia. The Finnish Government has allotted 3.7 million Finnish marks (nearly 0.7 million US dollars) to the Red Cross. In addition, donations are being collected both in money and in kind clothes, footwear and other commodities. The humanitarian aid is mostly distributed to hospitals and senior care centres. There have been problems of delivery caused by Russian customs officers.

10 - 13 The Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples in Tallinn organised the international seminar Internet in Finno-Ugric Information Space.

16 The Day of the Erzian Language was celebrated in the schools and cultural establishments of all regions of the Republic of Mordovia upon the recommendation of the Ministers of Education and Culture. The celebration of the Day of the Erzian Language was initiated by the A. P. Ryabov Foundation for Preservation of the Erzian Language in 1993. The Foundation held a festive meeting, where the Ryabov prize for the most outstanding work on preservation and development of the Erzian language was awarded to Nikolai Anoshkin, director of the Lukoyanov Museum of Erzian culture (Nizhni Novgorod district), and chairperson of the board of D. T. Nadkin Association of Protection of the Erzian Language. Other prize-winners have been: Victor Tingaev, chairperson of the Lismapra National Cultural Society of the Buguruslan region of Orenburg district (1993); Vera Klementyeva, teacher of the Erzian language at a secondary school in Mordovia (posthumously, 1995); and Rimma Zhegalina, primary school teacher in Mordovia (1995).

17 The Jazzkaar Festival was opened in Tallinn, Estonia, by the world famous Saami singer Mari Boine.

21 - 24 In Turku (Finland) the International Finno-Ugric Students Conference (IFUSCO) was held with the participation of 150 students from Udmurtia, Komi, Finland, Hungary and Estonia, including the Mari and Udmurt students currently studying at the universities of Estonia. The candidates for hosting the next IFUSCO are the universities of Pécs (Hungary) and Syktyvkar (Komi Republic).

25 President Viktor Stepanov of the Republic of Karelia sanctioned the Conception of Development of Finno-Ugric School in the republic, the objective of which is to preserve and promote the Karelian, Vepsian and Finnish languages and cultures through the development of Finno-Ugric school.

26 The Estonian Mari Society and the Academic Club of Kindred Peoples, in co-operation with the Tartu Department of the Institute of Finland celebrated the Commemoration Day of the Mari Hero in Tartu (Estonia). Complimentary speeches were given on the meeting by Mr Tõnu Seilenthal on behalf of the Academic Club of Kindred Peoples, Mr Pertti Pyhtilä on behalf of the Tartu Department of the Institute of Finland, and lecturer of politology Mr Rein Taagepera. Jaak Prozes spoke about the background of the commemoration day of the Mari hero and Irina Orekhova reflected on Mari heroes from Udmurtian perspective. The Kärsh (Harp) and Pamasshintsha (Fountainhead) student groups from Tartu performed on the following concert and Mari national foods were served at the banquet.



The cultural award of the Finnish Sami Parliament was given to the writer Kirsti Paltto. The prize, 20,000 FIM, was given to her for her versatile work in the field of Sami culture. At the side of her writers career Kirsti Paltto has organised the Sami theatre. At present she is chairperson of the Nordic Sami Writers Association.

In early May the faculties of the Finnish and Sami languages and of logopaedics of Oulu University organised a translation competition of Karl Ristikivis poetry into Finnish. Co-operating in the organisation of the competition are also Kaleva newspaper, Tuglas Society, the Institute of Estonia in Finland, and Karl Ristikivi Museum and Elias Lönnrot Society from Estonia.

1 The agreement between Finland and Estonia concerning abrogation of visa obligation came into effect. Now citizens of the three Finno-Ugrian states - Estonia, Finland and Hungary - are not required to have a visa to visit each other.

2 - 4 The Me Naiset group that has evolved from the folk music department of Sibelius Academy of Finland performed in Tallinn, Pärnu, Viljandi and Tartu in Estonia. In 1995 readers of the Uusi Kansanmusiikki magazine named the group the best in Finland. The visiting tour was organised by the Institute of Finland in Estonia.

3 15 years from the establishment of Tuglas Society that works on the presentation of the Estonian culture in Finland. The celebration of the anniversary immediately prior to May Day, on April 30, brought together hundreds of people who take interest in the Estonian culture.

8 Reet Tobre, fighter for the rights of Setus, died in Tallinn at the age of 37.

13 - 15 President Lennart Meri of Estonia paid an official visit to Hungary. His meeting with the President Arpad Göncz of Hungary centred around the joining of Estonia and Hungary with the European Union and NATO. President Meri gave a speech to the Parliament of Hungary giving a profound overview of the development of the Estonian state. President Göncz awarded President Meri the Hungarian Big Cross Order of Merit for his credits in developing the relations between the two republics.

16 The Estonian Union of National Cultures Lüüra opened its house in Tallinn, where the 18 different cultural societies of national minority cultures of Estonia are going to assemble.

20 The Council of the Estonian Migration Fund sanctioned regulations governing the order of distribution of subsidies to the citizens of Estonia and their families and Estonians and their families resettling from Eastern Petseri area into the Republic of Estonia. At present about 1000 Estonians and about 6000 Estonian citizens by legal succession are living in Petseri. According to different estimations, no more than 400 of them are prepared to return to Estonia.

25 - 27 President Arpad Göncz of Hungary met President Emil Constantinescu in Romania. President Göncz also visited Kolozsvar, the capital of Transylvania to discuss the plans of opening a representation of the Hungarian Embassy there. The previous visit of the Hungarian president to Romania occurred 70 years ago.

26 - 29 An exhibition dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation in the (Estonian) Academic Library in Tallinn. In addition to books and essays the exhibition displays archival documents concerning the history of Fenno-Ugria.

26 - 30 The Conference on Vernacular Education for the Finno-Ugric Peoples in Tallinn (Estonia), dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation and organised by the Foundation and the Ministry of Education of Estonia. Participants included education officials from the republics of Karelia, Komi, Mari El and Udmurtia, and from the Khanty-Mansi National District.

27 Festive meeting in Tallinn (Estonia), dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation. The discussed subjects covered the movement for promoting closer ties between kindred peoples between the two world wars, the objectives of the movement, and scientific contacts between the Finno-Ugric peoples. At night there was a banquet where representatives of Estonian and Finnish establishments dealing with the kindred relations, as well as participants of the educational conference came to congratulate the celebrant.


Karjalan Sivistysseura (Finland) and Carelia cultural magazine, published in Petroskoi, announced a competition of Karelian literature. Works of both prose and poetry can be submitted for the competition; the deadline is January 1, 1998. The first prize contains 1500 Finnish Marks, the second prize 1000, and the third 500. The works should be addressed to: Russia, 185670 Petroskoi, Pushkinskaya 13, Carelia lehden toimitus.

The concerts of the Finnish folk group Värttinä (Spindle) in Japan and Australia were remarkably successful. In Australia the group performed on the Brisbane biennial, in Sydney and Melbourne, and on two national television programmes. After their concert in Tokyo the members of the group had to spend a whole hour writing autographs. Now they are planning a more extensive tour around Japan next year. Värttinä began with arrangement and performing of Karelian folk songs, but in addition to Karelian and Finnish repertoire they have sung the songs of other Finno-Ugric peoples.

The magazine "Kultur i Barentsregionen" (Culture in the Barents Region) was brought out in Sweden. The magazine is multilingual, the first issue includes, besides Swedish, English and Russian, articles in the Finnish language.

2 Veli-Pekka Lehtola, PhD, from Oulu University (Finland), won the Israel Ruong award. The prize, consisting of 20,000 Norwegian Crowns, is given out by the Nordic Sami Institute (Sami Instituhtta, Gouvdageaidnu, Norway). V.P. Lehtola has studied the history and art of the Sami. At present he is working on a CD-ROM publication on Sami art and a multi-disciplinary research on the relations between Finns and Sami in the 1st half of the 20th century.

2 The vice-chair of the Parliament of Mordovia Mrs. Elena Kuldyrkayeva and the vice-chair of the Parliament of Estonia Mr. Tunne Kelam met in Tallinn. Both agreed to intensify the exchange of information and to create facilities for Mordvinian students to study at the universities of Estonia.

13 - 15 The first international symposium on Balto-Finnic and Sami minorities of the Barents region and their literary languages took place in Tromsö (Norwegian Lapland). Participants included scholars from Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Russia.

14 The fifth Festival of the Folk Art of Tver Karelians was held in Vesyegonsk (Tver Oblast, Russia). The festival was dedicated to the 380th anniversary of resettlement (deportation) of Karelians. The festival was organised by the Tver Karelian Cultural Centre, established 1990, in collaboration with the Culture Department of Vesyegonsk district, and Tver House of Popular Arts. In addition to several groups of Tver Karelians the festival saw the participation of the Oma pajo choir from Russian Karelia.

14 On the party congress in Haaparanta, a region in Sweden that has traditionally been inhabited by Finns, Mr Olof Johansson, chairman of the Swedish Central Party, promised his support in proclaiming Finnish an official minority language in Sweden. The Swedish Committee on Minority Languages had earlier proposed to give the status of a minority language to Yiddish and Gypsy, but not to Finnish. 400,000 Finns are living in Sweden today.

15 Screening of Finno-Ugric television programmes in Tampere (Finland). The Grand Prix was given to the Yugoria Broadcasting Company (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District, Russia) for the Indigenous Life programme. Other prize winners were Komi Permyaks for The Wedding, Russian TV for A Month in a Mordvinian Village, and Udmurtia Broadcasting Committee for Skies, Cat and Poetry.

16 Representatives of the Erzian and Mokshan intellectuals appealed to Chairman of the Mordvinian State Assembly Mr. V. A. Ketchkin, head of the Republic of Mordovia Mr. N. I. Merkushkin, Chairman of the Government of the Republic Mr. V. D. Volkov, and representative of the President of Russian Federation, about the disastrous situation of the Erzian and Mokshan culture in the Republic of Mordovia.

18 Samuli Aikio was given Olaus Sirma Award (10,000 Finnish Marks) in Rovaniemi (Finland) for his merits as a researcher into the language, culture and history of the Sami people. Among the most outstanding works of Samuli Aikio are the book of Sami history, Olbmot ovdal min, (1992) in the Sami language, and his contribution to the geographical and historical atlas, also in the Sami language. He works in the Finnish Centre of Vernaculars. Olaus (Mattson) Sirma, who studied theology at the University of Uppsala and gave the name to the award, was the first Sami from the territory of the present Finland who had an academic degree. The award is given by the board of Lapp University.

20 - 22 Schoolchildrens Song and Dance Festival in Tallinn, with the participation of Mari and Udmurt schoolchildren from Russia.

26 Beginning of the 20th Finno-Ugric expedition of the students of the Estonian Academy of Art. Thirteen students of different specialities, led by Kadri Viires, went to the Komi-Permyak Autonomous District in Russia, where they are going to draw and take pictures of objects of folk art, architecture and commodities of the Komi Permyaks in their ethnographic environment, and collect material for their independent research work. The tradition of these expeditions was initiated by Prof. Kaljo Põllu in 1978. During these 20 years Estonian art students have worked with almost all Finno-Ugric peoples. Last year they recorded the Nenets culture on the Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia.

27 The council of the Sami Parliament in Finland (Inari) expressed their discontent with the subsidies for reindeer breeding distributed by the Finnish Government. The Sami are not pleased with the discontinued subsidisation of new reindeer farms, traditional ecological herding, or purchase of snowmobiles. Since reindeer herding is a part of the Sami culture, and as such more than just a way to make their living, the council of the Sami Parliament found that the Finnish legislation concerning reindeer breeding is contradictory to the constitutional rights of the Sami people.

June 28 - July 14 After an interim of one year, nineteen native Americans of the Prairie Cree tribe from Canada performed their traditional dances in the setting of a country music festival in Estonia on the invitation of the Estonian culture exchange society Thunderbird. The members of the group were school and college students aged between 12 and 21, accompanied by Leonard Hardlotte (Vice Chief, First Nations Government) and Wes Stevenson (Saskatchewan Indian Federated College).


"The Galley of Obelix" from the French Asterix comics series was issued in Finland in the Savo dialect of the Finnish language.

A new Northern Sami translation of the New Testament was completed at Tromsö University. The earlier translation was outdated and contained grammatical errors. The first Sami translation of the New Testament appeared in 1840, and the whole Bible in 1895.

3 - 11 The culture camp for Finno-Ugric senior students of secondary schools in Udmurtia (Russia), organised by the youth organisation Shundy, brought together Finno-Ugric youth from Russia and Estonia.

4 - 13 Finno-Ugric theatre and art festival Bomban Juhlaviikot in Nurmes (North Karelia, Finland), with participating theatrical and music groups from Finland, Estonia, Komi Republic (Russia) and Karelia. Simultaneously, the award camp of the Finno-Ugric childrens fairy tale competition Satukota (the House of Fairy Tales) took place on July 9-16. The camp brought together the best of the 10-14-year old children who had written fairy tales in Finnish, Võru (South Estonian), Karelian, Vepsian, Erzian, Mokshan, Mari and Mansi. In the camp the children staged their tales with puppet theatre facilities. The camp supervisor was scoutmaster Juha Shemeikka from Finland (descendant of the famous Miihkali Shemeikka, performer of the Kalevala runic songs), stage managers were Riita Mänty from Finland and Maile Hiiet from Estonia. Children watched childrens performances within the festival and had a meeting with the Finnish Raatikko dance theatre that performed a dance show based on a fairy tale by the Sami writer Rauna Paadar-Leivo.

6 - 13 Mark Soosaars (Estonia) Father, Son and Holy Torum was shown for the first time at the 9th Festival of Visual Anthropology in Pärnu. The film speaks about the Khanty culture. The first prize of the festival was awarded to Thomas Stendertrups The Portal of Eternal Peace (Denmark, Cuba, 1996) for reminding us that mankind has no future unless they cherish their past. Special prizes were given to two Finnish films: the Paulig Baltic prize to Mirja Metsolas "Not Every Day Is a Wedding Day" (1997), and public prize to Lasse Naukkarinens Madame E (1997).

11 - 13 Youth Festival of the Finno-Ugric peoples took place in Yoshkar-Ola, Republic of Mari El, organised by the youth organisation U Vii. Participants in the festival included Finno-Ugric youth from Mari El, Bashkortostan, several Oblasts of Russia, Udmurtia, Finland and Estonia. The participants adopted a resolution and an appeal to the broadcasting companies of the Finno-Ugrian territories of Russia, proposing to initiate a common serial programme titled The Finno-Ugric World Today, which would reflect the life of all Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia.

12 Academician Professor Pertti Virtaranta, researcher of the Karelian language and culture and upholder of the kindred relations between Karelia and Russia even at the most difficult moments, passed away in Helsinki at the age of 79.

15 - 19 The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) held its Fifth General Assembly in Otepää, Estonia, with the participation of representatives of 41 nations from all continents. The idea of establishing the UNPO was born in 1990 in Estonia and put into action in 1991 in The Hague (the Netherlands). Today the UNPO unites more than 100 million people through their national movements and organisations of 50 different states and nations. Of the members of the organisation Estonia, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia and Palau have gained their independence and representation at the UN, henceforth continuing as supporting members of the UNPO. From among the Finno-Ugric peoples the Ingrian Finns, Maris, Komis, Udmurts and the Hungarian minority in Romania (Transylvania) are UNPO full members. The Fifth General Assembly elected its new Chairman Mr. Seif Sharif Hamad, candidate for the Presidency of Zanzibar at the latest elections. After prolonged and hot debates the elections of the new General Secretary for the organisation were postponed until the Sixth Extraordinary General Assembly. UNPO adopted 13 resolutions, including one about small and indigenous nations with no independent states. In the latter the administrations of St. Petersburg and Leningrad province are called to proclaim Finnish as the second official language for the Ingrians and to provide state supported instruction in the Finnish language at schools.

17 - 21 the 6th Folklore Festival of the Finno-Ugric peoples in Estonia. The festival was supported by the President of Estonia Lennart Meri. Folk groups from all Finno-Ugric peoples participated in the festival. The opening concert took place in Tartu and the final concert in Rakvere, although the groups performed in most of the districts of Estonia. One of the concerts was given at Pühajärve near Otepää where the audience included delegates of the UNPO 5th General Assembly from various parts of the world. At the same time the exhibition "Komi Spirit" was opened in the Estonian National Museum in Tartu for the festival, displaying Komi artefacts from the collections of the museum.

21 - 23 The UNPO General Assembly was succeeded by the international conference Non-violence and Conflict: Conditions for Effective Peaceful Change in Tallinn, Estonia. In addition to the numerous peace fighters and government leaders who participated already at the General Assembly, representatives of European institutes for human rights and peacework as well as the UN took part. Also the interest of the Great Powers towards the event was to be felt - Chinese journalists arrived to observe the planned presentation of H. H. the Dalai Lama at the conference, Russia had managed to frighten away the delegation of the Mari El Republic, the high delegation of the Chechen Republic had problems at the Russian-Estonian border. Estonian state and government officials preferred to watch military repetitions at Paldiski to the peace conference in the capital.

July 28 - August 1 The 15th session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. The session had a special importance, as it marked the 20th anniversary of the first conference dedicated to indigenous populations in Geneva. A representation of the Sami Council (Lars-Anders Baer, Rauna Kuokkanen, Anne Nuorgam and Ann-Kristin Hakansson), participated in the session. The Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples was represented by Nina Nesterova and Vassili Pekteev; the representation of Finland included Irja Seurujärvi-Kari from Sami Council. The subjects under discussion were definition of the term indigenous, the problems of restitution of land to the indigenous inhabitants, and the creation of a permanent Forum of Indigenous People at the United Nations, which would not only deal with human rights issues, but would have a broader mandate as a meeting point of governments, indigenous population and the UN structures, subordinated to the UN Economic and Social Council. The prevalent opinion was that at the present moment it would not be practical or necessary to define the term indigenous people. Nina Nesterova spoke on behalf of the Consultative Committee, supporting the creation of the Forum, and expressing gratitude to Russia for having paid more attention to its indigenous population recently. She also gave a survey of the 2nd World Congress of the Finno-Ugrians in Budapest in 1996. The Sami Council had submitted a report in the situation of the indigenous peoples in Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, which was included in the addendum to the Note by the Secretariat "The Review of Developments Pertaining to the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People: Environment, Land and Sustainable Development.Look also Minutes of WGIP

29 In its statement the Foreign Ministry of Russia accused the General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) in Estonia in encouraging separatist feelings in Russia.



From this autumn, after a break of 61 years, the Finnish language is again taught at schools in Norway. Finnish will be taught as the second language in the two northernmost counties of Norway. There are about 6000 Finnish-speaking Kwens in Northern Norway.

2 Setu Kingdom Day at Luhamaa (Southeast Estonia). For this one day in the year the Setus have proclaimed a kingdom in their native territory. During this day King Peko reigns over the whole Setu region, both the part under Russian jurisdiction and that under Estonian. Volli Kera from Luhamaa was appointed regent (sootska) of the mythological King. During the day several contests and competitions took part, mens and womens songs were sung, people enjoyed themselves. Mart Siimann, Prime Minister of Estonia, paid an unofficial visit to the Setu Kingdom.

2 The Day of the Livonians was celebrated for the 9th time at Ire (Mazirbe, Kurland, Latvia). Since 1989 the day has been celebrated on the first week-end of August. A Livonian church service was held and a folk music concert given with the participation of an Estonian folk dance group. The dance festival was appended by a photo exhibition and an exhibition on the history of Livonians. The Livonian Day was opened by Poulin Klavina; chairman of the Livonian society Aldis Ermanbriks greeted everybody on behalf of the Livonian people. The ambassadors of Estonia, Finland and Norway to Latvia were present; the US ambassador sent his greetings. The camp for Livonian children where they were taught the native language and Livonian culture had ended a day earlier. Participants of the camp performed on the concert of the Livonian Day.

8 - 10 The 9th Kaika Summer University in Viluste, Põlva district, for people interested in the Võru language. This year there were more than 100 participants. Kaika Summer University is a three-day training camp where everything (within the bound of possibility) is conducted in the Võru language.

11 - 17 The Cultural Camp for the Finno-Ugric Children in the Võru district (Southeast Estonia), organised by Võru Institute and the Fenno-Ugria Foundation, in co-operation with the Finno-Ugric cultural societies in Estonia. The camp took on children of the Finno-Ugric peoples living in Estonia (Ingrian Finns, Hungarians, Maris, Mordvinians, Udmurts), as well as Võru and Setu children, aged between 8 and 12.

13 The Estonian and Hungarian joint exhibition on Traditional Sports and Games was opened in the exhibition house of the Estonian National Museum in Tartu (Estonia). The exhibition mainly reflects the traditional Estonian and Hungarian sports and games requiring speed, strength and dexterity from childrens games to traditional national sports. Furthermore, the material of other Finno-Ugric peoples has been employed. The exhibited materials come from the collections of the Hungarian Sports Museum, Hungarian Ethnographic Museum, Kecskemet Museum of Toys, and Hermann Otto Museum in Hungary, and from the collections of the Estonian Sports Museum and Estonian National Museum.

16 - 17 The 2nd Horse Racing Championship of the Finno-Ugrian Territories in Yoshkar-Ola (Republic of Mari El, Russia). The first prize was won by Udmurtian representatives.

18 - 28 Finno-Ugric Childrens Camp near Yoshkar-Ola (Republic of Mari El, Russia), with the participation of not only Mari children, but also Udmurts, Mordvinians and Komis from Russia and Setus from Estonia.


24 Twenty members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council introduced a draft resolution to the Committee on Culture and Education of the Assembly, according to which the Parliamentary Assembly should elucidate the possibilities of survival for the Finno-Ugric peoples in their present territories. The question of survival of Finno-Ugric cultures was raised in the Parliamentary Assembly this February by the Finnish representative Tytti Isohookana-Asunmaa. The draft resolution observes that the principle of preserving minority languages is supported by the constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as the constitutions of several its constituent republics, but this principle is not followed.


The missionary motion picture Jesus (currently available in 420 languages) was translated and dubbed into the Karelian language, this being the first motion picture in Karelian. The work was done in co-operation by Helsinki Bible Translation Institute (Finland) and Petroskoi Pedagogical University (Republic of Karelia, Russia). The author of the translation is Zinaida Dubinina.

2 to 5 A seminar for young Finno-Ugric writers was held in Syktyvkar (Komi Republic, Russia). Arvo Valton, the chairman of the Association of Finno-Ugric Literatures who was invited to the seminar, could not participate because of a visa confusion organised by the Russian Federation.

4 The leader of the Hungarians of Romania Bishop Laszlo Tökes, speaking at the congress of the Hungarian Democratic Union (the largest local Hungarian party) in Tirgu Mures, Romania, urged the members of the party to fight for radical changes. Tökes also demanded the return of the churches that were closed or expropriated during the Communist period, as well as the restoration of the Hungarian-language university in Koloszvar (Cluj-Napoca). The arrest of the Bishop in 1989 caused a wave of protest that led to the overthrow of the communist dictatorship. Bishop Tökes enjoys wide support among the local 1.6 million Hungarians.

7 The government of the Republic of Estonia appointed a commission of experts to study questions of the development of relations with the kindred peoples in the areas of culture and education. The commission, headed by the Minister of Education Mait Klaassen and financed by the Ministry of Education of Estonia, is to work out a programme for co-operation in education, science and culture between the kindred peoples.

7 King Harald V of Norway apologised publicly before the Simi people for the injustice they have suffered through the effects of the Norwegianisation policy of the Norwegian state. Forty-five thousand strong indigenous population of Norway, the Simis have inhabited their present territories for more than 9000 years.

17 to 19 Session of the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples in Espoo, Finland. Valt Erns^treit, a representative of Livonians, attended as a special guest, this being the first time the Livonians have participated in the work of the Committee. His proposal to hold the October 1998 session of the Consultative Committee in Ire (Mazirbe), Livonian Coast (Kurland, Latvia), was accepted by the Committee. The March session of the Committee will take place in Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia). The Consultative Committee also adopted the Statutes of the Working Group on Media and Information.

17 to 22 The 3rd theatre festival of Finno-Ugric peoples Majatul took place in Yoshkar-Ola (Republic of Mari El, Russia) with the participation of theatres from Estonia, Finland, Karelia, Komi Republic, Mari El, Mordovia, Permian Komi Autonomous District and Udmurtia. The Mari National Theatre performed a play by the Mordovian author Aleksandr Pudin on the life of the Mari film actor Jyvan Kyrlya who was repressed in the 1930s and Kalevala (directed by Paavo Liski). P. Liski has also directed Kalevala in Finland and Estonia, as well as elsewhere in the world. The historical play I Never Kneel Down (written by Gennady Gordeyev, producer Oleg Irkabayev) performed by the Mari Youth Theatre was accused of political extremism by Moscow critics. The performance by the Katanchi theatre of the play The Wheel of Life, based on Udmurt traditional songs, proved a success. Estonia was represented by Priit Karm, actor and director from the Tartu Children’s Theatre, who performed a solo play based on Estonian and Livonian fairy tales. The Association of Finno-Ugric Theatres was formed at the festival but not all the theatres present joined it. Vasily Pekteyev, art director of the Mari National Theatre, was elected the chairman of the Association.

October 27 to November 7 – The UN Working Group On the Draft Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (established in accordance with the Commission on Human Rights’ resolution 1995/32 of 3 March 1995) held its third session, with participation of UN member states and representatives of various indigenous peoples and their organisations. Because of the obstructionist tactics of some states the working group adopted only two insignificant articles after long informal discussions on the right to self-determination and on the indigenous cultural rights. Among the indigenous organisations represented were the Sami Council and the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples. (For more information, see UNPO Monitor )


5 to 6 The 6th Udmurt Congress in Izhkar (Izhevsk, Udmurt Republic, Russia) reckoned up the activities since the previous Congress (November 4, 1994), discussed the most important problems of contemporary life and the role and place of the Udmurts in the world. The Congress stated in its resolution that Article 9 of the Udmurt Constitution, establishing the Udmurt language as the second official language (alongside Russian) in Udmurtia, is not fully applied. The laws on the languages of the peoples of Udmurtia and on the status of the Udmurt Congress have not been passed. Valentin Tubylov, former chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Udmurtia, was elected President of the Congress.

11 to 13 The workshop Media, Folklore and Mythology was held in Tartu (Estonia) with the participation of researchers from Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Mordovia. Among the discussed subjects were the influence of media on folklore and mythology and the possibilities offered for broadening people’s worldview and recording and studying folklore by new media (especially the Internet and television).

13 The doctor’s degree was conferred on Olga Yerina, Lydmila Karpova and Irina Timiryayeva (resp. an Erzya, an Udmurt and a Mari) by the University of Tartu, these being the first representatives of eastern kindred peoples to pass their examinations for the doctorate in the once again independent Republic of Estonia.

18 to 21 The 4th Congress of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples took place in Laulasmaa, Estonia. The Association unites youth organisations of Finno-Ugric peoples from Estonia, Finland, Hungary and the Russian Federation. The Congress elected Jaak Prozes from the Estonian Mari Society the chairman of the Association, as the headquarters of the Association will remain in Estonia until the next Congress (to be held in Helsinki in the year 2000). It was resolved to appoint a quadripartite commission that would amend the Statutes and bring them into accordance with legislations of the participant states. It was also resolved to make the exchange of information more effective. The Mari youth newspaper Kugarnya will regularly compile and disseminate selected materials on the activities of Finno-Ugric youth for publication in the press of all the Finno-Ugric peoples. The Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples (situated in Tallinn, Estonia) will act as an intermediary between Russia and other countries and provide translations of the materials from Russian into English and vice versa.

21 The heads of Mons Somby and Aslak Haetta, leaders of the 1852 uprising of Sami reindeer herdsmen, were buried on a hill in Northern Norway. The heads of the Samis beheaded for participation in the only uprising against Norwegian religious and political oppression in Sami history were until now preserved in an anthropologic items collection in Oslo. The heads of the executed were used at those times in an unsuccessful attempt by contemporary scientists to prove that the Samis belong to an inferior race. The Samis of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia have asserted the return of the heads for decades. Now a burial service was carried out in the church of Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino, near the Norwegian-Finnish border) and the heads of the leaders found their last resting place. This is already the second case of public apology to the Samis by Norway this autumn.


In December Australia offered 40 million dollars of aid to the families of those Aboriginals who in childhood had been separated from their parents during forced assimilation. Forced assimilation was carried out from the 1880s to the 1960s.

29 The authorities of the Komi Republic did not consent to open a representation of Chechenia in Syktyvkar. Commenting on the refusal, the Komi leader Yuri Spiridonov said the Chechens wanted to open a representation of Chechenia as a foreign state, which is in no way acceptable to the Komi authorities, as legally Chechenia is still a part of Russia.


© SURI, 1997-98