Address by A.V. BLOKHIN,
Minister in matters of federative, national and
migration policies of the Russian Federation,
head of the delegation of the Russian Federation
at the III World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples
Dear chairman, dear delegates and guests of the Congress!
First of all I would like to thank the organizers of this representative
forum for the possibility to state and exchange opinions on current
topics, which will be discussed during this Congress on revival
and development of the culture and languages, and of the national
self-esteem of the Finno-Ugric peoples.
The Russian Federation is one of the largest multinational states
of the world with its more than 170 ethnic communities. Furthermore
the peoples of Russia belong to different language groups and
are bearers of very different cultures, traditions and religions.
The vast majority among them have formed during the centuries
ethnic communities on the territory of Russia and played an important
historical role in the formation of the Russian statehood.
The multinational structure of Russia has determined the specific
character of our state. One of the essential features of Russian
federalism is the fact that it is based on two factors: the national-territorial
and administrative-territorial. 23 peoples of Russia have their
own national and state formations, 21 – a republic within
the Russian Federation, five of which have a compact Finno-Ugric
At the same time Russia is an integral formation, where parallel
with the preservation of the cultural and linguistic versatility
and the feeling of belonging to a certain ethnic community, practically
all citizens are able to interact on the basis of the multinational
The national feeling of well-being of any people is above all
connected with the attitude taken by the state to its mother tongue
and culture, together with the willingness of the power-holders
to help to preserve its originality and to further its development.
Russia as a democratic juridical society builds up its national
policy on the basis of thorough regard for the national interests
of all peoples and national groups living on its territory, in
making them agree with the all-national and statewide interests.
This policy covers all aspects of relations, including those between
individuals, and is directed at all communities irrespective of
the number of those who make up the community or the existence
or absence of a national state formation.
The principles of the national policy of the state arise from
the historical specific features of century-old Russian statehood,
present day realities and universally recognized international
Among the basic principles the Conception of the national state
policy of the Russian Federation determines the following:
- equality of the rights and liberties of the individual and
citizen irrespective of his race, language, relation to religion,
belonging to social groups and public organizations;
- prohibition of any forms of restrictions of citizens' rights
on the basis of their social, racial, national, linguistic and
- guarantee of the rights of small peoples in accordance with
the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the universally
recognized principles and regulations of international law and
international agreements of the Russian Federation.
Similar principles are included also in the Constitutions of
the republics of the Russian Federation and above all in the articles
of the Constitution of our country.
The Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees to all
peoples of the country the right of preservation of the mother
tongue, creation of conditions for studying and development of
the same. The realization of the principle of equal rights and
self-determination of peoples, which makes up the basis for the
federal structure of the country, has in the field of language
relations found its expression in securing for the republics the
right to determine their official languages, which are used in
the governing bodies of the state, the institutions of local self-government,
the state institutions of the republics parallel with the official
language of the Russian Federation.
Issues dealing with the state language policy have received their
consecutive development in the federal law "On the languages
of the peoples of the Russian Federation". In this law the
equal rights of the languages of all peoples of Russia are secured
with respect to their preservation and development. They all have
the support of the state, a guarantee system is being introduced
in relation to the rights of ethnic communities as well as the
rights of individual persons in the field of language relations.
The law states as work language of the supreme legislative organs
of the country the official language of the Russian Federation
with the right to use the official languages of the republics
in their work.
As to the laws on the languages of the subjects of the Russian
Federation, they have applied the regulations and structure of
the federal law. Nevertheless they differ from it with respect
to a different approach in solving problems of language development,
consisting in a different arrangement of priorities.
The main aim of legal regulation has become the creation of favourable
conditions for the revival, preservation and development of the
language of the (people after which the republic in question has
Moreover, the constitutions of the republics include special
regulations on the preservation and development of the national
cultures of the peoples living on their territory, as well as
on the right of these national groups to establish their own national
and cultural organizations.
According to the federal law "On education" the citizens
of the Russian Federation have the right to receive basic general
education in the mother tongue and to choose the language of education
within the limits of the possibilities offered by the system of
The law of the Russian Federation "Bases of the legislation
of the Russian Federation on culture", issued on October
9,1992, guarantees the right of peoples and other ethnic communities
as to the preservation and development of their cultural and national
originality, as well as the protection, revival and preservation
of their age-old cultural and historical environment. The law
secures the right of all ethnic communities living compactly outside
their state formations or lacking their own statehood, to a cultural
and national autonomy.
The approval of the federal law "On national and cultural
autonomy" (1996) was an important step in the legislative
securing of the rights of all peoples and national groups in the
preservation of their national originality and balanced national
and cultural development.
The right to national and cultural autonomy, belonging in an
equal degree to all peoples, is most timely in the case of national
minorities. The dispersely living national minorities have great
difficulties as to the preservation of their national identity
(their language and culture). This is why in the contemporary
civilized society when considering issues of national and cultural
autonomy serious attention is paid to the creation of guarantees
for the realization of national and cultural autonomies of national
minorities and the elaboration of the necessary legal mechanisms.
In several subjects of the Russian Federation laws have been
approved, which regulate the legal status of national and territorial
units on their territory. For example, the law of the Republic
of Karelia "On the legal status of national districts, national
town and rural councils in the Republic of Karelia" issued
on November 22, 1991, was approved with the aim of furthering
the national development of Finns on the territory of Karelia.
This law contains issues on the establishment of administrative-territorial
units, including the order, time limits, determination of boundaries
and other issues e.g. economic development: self-financing and
The examples stated above are directly connected also with the
processes of national cultural development of the Finno-Ugric
peoples of Russia.
In the Udmurt Republic a Conception of the state national policy
of the Udmurt Republic was approved in 1998 by a decree of the
State Council and a plan has been drawn up for its realization.
Since 1995 there has been a special item in the budget of the
republic, which envisages expenditures for the realization of
the national policy. In the republic bills have been drawn up
"On the national and cultural autonomy of the Udmurt Republic",
"On the languages of the peoples of the Udmurt Republic",
"On staff policy in the Udmurt Republic", as well as
regional and goal-oriented programmes on the improvement of the
national policy, such as:
"The social and cultural development of Udmurts, living
outside the boundaries of the Udmurt Republic", "The
national development and co-operation between the nationalities
In the Mordovian Republic a "Programme on national development
and cooperation between the nationalities of Mordovia" has
been drawn up, the realization of which has required the approval
of laws and acts pertaining to them, which regulate the social,
legal and cultural activities of ethnically oriented political
forces, ethno-cultural organizations and citizens of different
nationalities. This programme was approved by the government of
the Mordovian Republic in 1997.
The Conception of state national policy of the Republic of Mari
El was also approved in 1997 and from this year on for the first
time there has been a special item in the budget of the republic
called "Relations between nationalities". A "Coordination
plan of measures for improvement and development of national relations
and co-operation between nationalities in the Republic of Mari
El" was drawn up and approved by a common decree of interested
In the Komi Republic the programme "Preservation and development
of the Komi language" is in force and "Measures for
organizing of the International Decade of indigenous peoples in
the Komi Republic" and "Measures for realization of
the state national policy" are in force.
Reviewing the above, it should be noted that due attention has
during the recent time been paid to the support of national cultures
and languages of Finno-Ugric peoples in the general context of
the national problems of Russia. This implies the realization
at the level of federal and local state institutions of a complex
of measures, including the elaboration of legislative acts and
special programmes in support of the development of the cultures
and languages of these peoples.
During the eight years, which have passed since the I World Congress,
many things have changed in the life of the Finno-Ugric peoples
of Russia. The development of the cultures and languages, of the
national education system and the media in the regions, where
the Finno-Ugric peoples live, have raised their national self-esteem
to a new quality level.
The government of the Russian Federation will continue to give
state support and assistance to the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia
in their efforts to preserve their language, culture and traditions
within the multinational Russian state.
In conclusion I would on behalf of the delegation of federal
executive organs of the Russian Federation like to wish the guests
and delegates of the Congress success in their work, productive
co-operation in the multiplication of the spiritual and moral
values of the Finno-Ugric peoples in the name of universal peace
Thank you for your attention.
Source: III World Congress of
the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola,2001], pp