Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples
phone/fax: +372 644 9270; e-mail:

Press release 22 April 2005

Press releases:

Finnish journalist denied Russian visa (27.12.05)

Young Finno-Ugrians at the Congress of Turkic Youth (21.11.05)

International attention to problems of national minorities in the Russian Federation is not decreasing (01.11.05)

Chairman of Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples attacked in Mari Republic, Russia (28.08.05)

Lusatian Sorbs express their solidarity with Udmurts (26.08.05)

Ethnic minority in Russia: media is filled with misinformation (25.08.05)

Closing of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies in Yoshkar-Ola (21.08.05)

Hopeless Udmurts appeal to Europe for support (19.08.05)

Russian authorities threatening an ethnic minority organisation (17.08.05)

Scientists replaced with officials at a scientific congress in Russia (16.08.05)

Tenth International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies in Russia (15.08.05)

Estonian delegation to the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies smaller than expected (12.08.05)

Estonian and Saami Theatres Start Co-operating with the Kalevala in Estonia (10.08.05)

An ethnographic film banned in Russia now available on DVD (09.08.05)

Doctoral scholarship in Estonia for foreign Finno-Ugrians (06.08.05)

An open letter to the President of Finland Tarja Halonen (02.08.05)

Estonian students caught in the wheels of Russia's internal politics (02.08.05)

Expulsion of Estonian students from the Mari Republic of Russian Federation (22.07.05)

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation supporting the Mari people in Russia (07.07.05)

Ethnic minority convenes its congress in the underground (07.06.05)

Fascist group in Russia asserts being instructed by local administration (31.05.05)

Russian composer did not celebrate his anniversary in his home town (19.05.05)

European Parliament steps forth in defence of a national minority in Russia (12.05.05)

Federal Union of European Nationalities examined the situation of a Russia's minority (07.05.05)

Members of the European Parliament pass an action plan to improve the situation of Finno-Ugric minorities in Russia (27.04.05)

Finno-Ugric Minority of Russia Grateful to the European Parliament for Support (26.04.05)

European Parliament Examining the Mari Situation in Russia (11.03.05)

Opposition leaders still persecuted in Mari El: Vladimir Kozlov assaulted (04.02.05)

Mari Nation Under Threat in Russia (22.02.05)


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(information and news about Mari people in Mari, Russian, Estonian, English)

 Press releases by the Estonian Institute for Human Rights:



Unrepresented Nations' and Peoples' Organisation

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Estonian Member of European Parliament on discussion with Russian parliamentarians on Russia’s minorities

"At our meeting, we raised the issue of violations of the rights of Russian minorities. The Russian delegates treated this matter rather superficially and we did not feel genuine concern. They turned more serious only when we insisted and stressed the importance of this subject to us", says European MP Tunne Kelam, describing the sitting of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Co-operation Committee held on 19-20 April in Moscow.

At these talks with their Russian counterparts the Europeans raised the issue of infringement on the rights of the Maris, a 650-thousand strong Finno-Ugric minority. This includes a wave of physical attacks against Mari cultural workers and opposition, as well as restrictions on the use of the native language in school teaching, broadcasting and publications.

"It is our duty to raise these issues, and we did that. However, we will have to constantly remind the Russians of the existing problems, and produce facts. Above all, we must achieve clarity in the case of merciless battery of Chairman of Mari Congress Mr. Vladimir Kozlov. I have a strong doubt about possible results of the procrastinated investigation into this case", says Tunne Kelam who is also a member of the Committee on Regional Development and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence of the European Parliament.

Commenting on the handling of the situation of Russia’s minorities by the European Parliament, Kelam said: "The Finno-Ugric topic is pretty new to most of the European delegates. Those Finno-Ugric peoples who are represented in the EU must acquaint others with the problem and explain who the Finno-Ugric peoples are. They must also explain the problems of Russia's minorities, their cultural rights and their effort to retain their ethnic identity. This requires long-run activities. I hope that the Finno-Ugric Forum established now in the European Parliament will help to spread information and achieve understanding. This needs speaking everywhere about these problems, as well as producing documents and reports. The issue of Russia’s minorities, including Finno-Ugric peoples, will certainly become an important issue to the European Parliament."

A day before, on 19 April, at the meeting of the delegation with Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Vladimir Chizhov, Tunne Kelam urged on Chizhov to take the situation of the Maris very seriously. Earlier, when a Hungarian representative drew Chizhov's attention to the events like battery and assassination of journalists and opposition leaders, Chizhov reacted by saying that the rate of crimes against ethnic Maris does not exceed the average rate in the Russian Federation and he did not see a problem.

Tunne Kelam drew the attention of Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister to suppression of cultural rights of the Mari nation. According to Kelam, Chizhov promised to consider these facts seriously and pass them to the relevant authorities. He excused by having never been to the administrative area where the Maris live, the Republic of Mari El, and by his ignorance of the situation.