Tallinn, 22 July 2005Tallinn, 07 July 2005
For immediate release


Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples
phone/fax: +372 644 9270
e-mail: suri@suri.ee

Mari minister promises his assistance in obtaining a Russian visa

Mr. Mikhail Vasyutin, Deputy Head of Government and Minister of Culture, Press and Nationalities of the Republic of Mari El, was visiting Estonia from 17 to 19 January at the invitation of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Estonia.

As well as at his previous visit in July 2005, Vasyutin opened an exhibition in the premises of the Russian Embassy in Tallinn. While the previous exhibition displayed books and periodicals published in Mari El (see the press release of the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples (in Russian only) at http://www.suri.ee/press/rus/p050705rus.html), paintings and drawings of Mari artists were demonstrated this time.

At a press-conference held for the Russian-language media of Estonia, Vasyutin said that a similar art exhibition was held in November 2005 in the Centre of Hungarian Culture in Moscow. The minister briefly characterised the situation in the Republic of Mari El, pointing at the achievements in the theatre art and mentioning that a radio station has been established with the eight hours daily broadcasting in Mari.

Remembering the criticism in connection with the previous exhibition of books and periodicals, when the local press compared the numbers of publications in Mari El and in Estonia (in 2005, over four thousand books and more that thousand periodicals were published in the Estonian language, according to the 2005 Yearbook of Estonian Statistics), Vasyutin spoke about the publication of books and periodicals. He said that 2005 was declared the Year of Mari Literature, and that there are eight periodicals, including newspapers, published in Mari language in Mari El. According to the materials distributed at the press-conference, seven books were published in 2005 in the Mari language (this for a population of 605 thousand). The state funding for book publishing was 1,5 million roubles in 2005, and two million roubles are envisaged in the republican budget for 2006.

?. Vasyutin said at the press-conference that he had a meeting with Mrs. Kaja Jäppinen, Vice-Mayor of Tallinn responsible for education, culture and interethnic issues, and invited the Tallinn theatre to the festival of Finno-Ugric theatres.

He also said that it was regrettable that he could not meet his Estonian colleague, Minister of Population Mr. Paul-Erik Rummo. But he had a meeting with Mr. Raivo Palmaru, Minister of Culture of Estonia, to discuss cultural contacts between Mari El and Estonia. Vasyutin told Palmaru about the Mari song festivals, an old Estonian tradition that the Maris have now taken over.

On 19 January Vasyutin met with Estonian MPs who are members of the group for the support of Finno-Ugric peoples.

Vasyutin had also a meeting with Mr. Jaak Prozes, Head of the Kindred Peoples Centre of the Fenno-Ugria Foundation, and discussed the issues of co-operation and cultural exchange regarding the annual Kindred Peoples Days, and the support to the Maris living outside Mari El. Prozes suggested to call on the Estonians to collect FM radio receivers for the Maris, and Vasyutin supported this idea. They also discussed the denial of a Russian visa to Prozes this week. Vasyutin promised to assist in solving the visa problem. That was not an isolated incident, as Russia has more than once refused visas to Finno-Ugric activists. A Finnish journalist Ville Ropponen had the same trouble last December.