SPEECHES OF THE PEOPLE's REPRESENTATIVES
chairman of the "Inkerin Litto" and the national-cultural
of Ingria Finns of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region
Dear Mr. Chairman! Dear delegates of the World congress!
Finnish tribes had lived at the shores of the Neva and the Gulf
of Finland since the earlier Middle Age. But from the point of
view of history the Ingria Finns are a rather young people, formation
of which started in the 17th century in the territory of Ingria.
Inkeri Finns have absorbed culture of the surrounding Slovenians
(Russians), culture of Finnish tribes (Izhora and Vod) and have
preserved the original culture of proper Finns.
Ingria Finns are a community of people historically formed at
the shores of the Neva and the Gulf of Finland which is united
by a common language - Finnish with a variety of dialects, a similar
origin (Suomen sisu), unity of the traditional material and spiritual
culture which has absorbed culture of the surrounding peoples.
A fixed self-appellation is incident for the Ingria Finns - Inkeri
Finns - and also a common consciousness of their unity with the
unifying aim to preserve the people and realise its progress.
If we add to all that the identity of confession - the Reformed
faith - and affinity of the physical type, so we obtain a definition
of the people that corresponds to every necessary quality after
which one people is segregated from another from the point of
view of international legal norms.
Thus the Ingria Finns or Inkeri Finns are a people which together
with the proper Finns or Suomi Finns build two branches of one
Finnish trunk. To the 30s of the XX century Finns numbering about
150000 made up approximately 3/4 of the rural population of Ingria
and numerically were the second largest among the rural people
of Leningrad region. The presence of Kujvosovo Finnish national
district, 64 national Finnish village Soviets, an extended net
of schools and other educational institutions with Finnish as
the teaching language - all that emphasised a major and important
status of the Ingria Finns in Leningrad region.
We see quite another picture in the second half of the XX century:
there is no national administrative body, the Finnish language
is taught as a foreign one at 4 schools in St. Petersburg and
as an optional subject at some local schools. A status of the
Finnish language as a language of an aboriginal people of Russia
is absent. Furthermore, after a census of 1989 Finns are enlisted
as a people for whom Russia is not the ethnic motherland - like,
for example, Englishmen, Ethiopians or Japanese. One should agree
to that as far as a citizen of Finland is concerned. The Ingria
Finns are not mentioned here at all.
One could agree to that "confusion" in 1989 at the
beginning of the revival process of peoples' national self-consciousness.
But in January 1997 a Parliamentary hearing on the program "Revival
and Development of Cultures of the Finno-Ugrian Peoples of Russia"
was held in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg was chosen not at random
as a place to carry on the hearing. A decree "On Vindication
of the Russian Finns" was adopted by Supreme of Soviet Russian
Federation and a special program "Preservation and development
of the Ingria Finns" was launched by Ministry nationalities.
The Ingria Finns were again not mentioned in documents of the
Parliamentary hearings among the peoples which historically and
ethnically formed in the territory of Russia. As a result of mass
victimization our people was both expelled from its territory,
where it had formed, and bereft of its legal right to its historic
and ethnic native-land accordingly.
If we proceed from the aforesaid, we neither possess the right
to a federal support from Russia in the form of a program for
"Preservation and Development of Ingria Finns" nor the
to for a status for our language as that of a aboriginal people
of Russia etc. But we are not citizens of Finland. Thus, the Ingria
Finns turned up to be among the peoples on the globe destitute
of their land, native country and only partially retaining traditions
and culture of their ancestors.
In the end of the 20th century some 75000-80000 Inkeri Finns
live in the world, and they are scattered in many countries of
the globe. About 20000 of them live in Ingria proper or they are
0.3% of the population of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.
17000-18000 Finns live in Karelia and the majority of the same
number of Ingria Finns who had lived in Estonia moved to Finland.
In Finland in the last decade the number of Ingria Finns reached
20000, some 8000-9000 of Inkeri Finns live in Sweden and circa
3000 in other countries of Europe, America and Australia. It must
be noted that approx. 10000-13000 Ingria Finns and their descendants
tarry in the exile places in Siberia, Komi and the Urals. In spite
of Russification policy and Stalinist victimization we could partially
preserve the Finnish language, the Lutheran church and the Finnish
The economic situation in Russia and absence of an official
program do not allow thousands of Ingria Finns to return to the
native parts from the exile places and special settlements. About
30 families returned back to Inkeri and thousands moved to live
to Finland. This process will discontinue if the economic situation
improves in Russia and a real mechanisims designed to put the
rehabilitation Act into effect.
Finland's policy is changing gradually, too, which began to be
oriented to assistance to Inkeri Finns in the places of their
compact residence. We have lobbied interests of lngria Finns in
government of Finland since the earlier 90s and we have good achievements.
A net of homes for the elderly is organized in the places of their
compact residence in Ingria, Estonia and Karelia. A four years
long "Ingria project" started in 1999. According to
it we try to ensure employment assistance for the Ingria people
in the places of their traditional habitation and strengthen their
national identity. In accordance with this project a poly-functional
centre is, opened in Gatohina and an Ingria labour exchange is
registered in St. Petersburg. I should like to thank government
of Finland for the care showed for the Inkeri Finns.
Naturally, we have enough problems. At least one can make mention
of the right to study the native - Finnish - language, support
to the Ingria Finns in Siberia, assimilation in the Russian and
Estonian environment. In connection with that we have the following
motions for the Congress:
1.Persons living in Russia do not have the possibility of studying
at schools in Finland, since a single practice of participation
at international pupils' exchange is absent there. We request
to ensure the possibility of teaching of 30 learners at schools
of Finland during half a year or a year. This can be carried out
into practice on the basis of a special agreement among Educational
Ministry of Finland, "Inkerin Liitto" and Ingria educational
and scientific centre.
2.According to laws of Finland the Finnish schools abroad are
assisted by Educational Ministry. However, that does not cover
the schools in Russia with teaching of the Finnish language, for
citizens of Finland do not leam there. And the Ingria children
namely there receive the base for studying the language of their
ancestors. It would be better if Educational Ministry could find
a possibility of helping the Finnish schools in Russia. This issue
concerns insignificant amount In this case an agreement should
be signed among Educational Ministry of Finland "Inkerin
Liitto", Ingria educational and scientific centre and schools.
3. When travelling to summer job to Finland the pupils have to
pay 800 markkas for the right to accommodation and work. This
is a very big amount. Can government of Finland reduce that amount?
All the problems still mean one thing - our organizations must
work more productively. This work is easier to carry on jointly
in the Finno-Ugrian family and at our Congress. We would like
to wish good speed to the Congress.
A nation without its history, traditions, culture and language
is doomed to disappear, to dissolve. Nevertheless, we shall exert
every effort to prevent that. World culture can lose one of its
parts. Therefore we apply to official bodies of Russia to redeem
to Ingria Finns their historical status of an aboriginal people
of Russia, to enact program documents on preservation and development
of Inkeri Finns' culture, to legalize the status of the Finnish
language as a language of an aboriginal people in the territory
of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.
They often say that Vod and Izhora are aboriginal peoples of
Ingria. And that Ingria Finns moved from other places here. Really,
our ancestors were mainly Yevremeyans and Savakotes. And they
lived in the northern part of the Karelian neck, Vyborg district,
on the northern Ladoga-river and the south-eastern part of the
modem Finland. If they do not recognize us - the Inkeri Finns
- an aboriginal people of Russia, so the aforesaid territories
ought not to be a part of Russia. Then political problems will
arise. This is a reason for serious deliberation in nationalities'
Ministry and governments of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.
Source: III World Congress of
the Finno-Ugrian Peoples. Helsinki, 2000 [Joshkar-Ola, 2001],