Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples
Press release 12 May 2005
Press releases by the Estonian Institute for Human Rights:
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT STEPS FORTH IN DEFENCE OF A NATIONAL MINORITY IN RUSSIA
A resolution on the condition of the Mari minority nation in the Russian Federation was passed unanimously by the European Parliament at its plenary session in Strasbourg today. The Parliament deplores breaches of human rights and democracy taking place in the Mari Republic (Mari El), an administrative unit of Russia.
resolution says that the Maris face
considerable difficulties in
The resolution calls on Russia's federal and local authorities to respect the freedom of press, to immediately stop political retribution directed at dissenting public servants, and to refrain from undue political interference in the affairs of educational and cultural institutions. It calls on Russia to respect its obligations under international law concerning protection and development of minority languages and cultures.
The Estonian member of European Parliament Mrs. Marianne MIKKO said in her speech before the voting: "Altogether, national minorities in Russia make up 28 millions of people. Four million of them speak Finno-Ugric languages. In the Mordovian language spoken by around a million people, just some twenty books are published each year, no newspapers are published, nor is this language taught in any school. The situation of the Maris is but a bit better."
The draft resolution was submitted by representatives of the Group of the European People's Party and European Democrats (EPP-ED).
This move followed a wide international protest against the oppression of the Maris, including the Appeal on Behalf of the Mari People written by a group of Finnish scientists, and an action of collecting signatures to support the Maris. The web page www.ugri.info/mari has collected signatures from over sixty countries.
The Maris are a 650 thousand-strong people (however, according to the last census, there number has decreased already to 604 thousands) living in the Mari Republic (Mari El), some 500 miles to the east of Moscow. Today, the Maris are grossly underrepresented in Russia. A constant ethnic cleansing carried out in the local administration of Mari republic has reduced the number of public employees of Mari origin from 30% to some three or four persons. Neither are there any people descending from the Republic of Mari El in Russia's federal representative bodies. The Maris have repeatedly demanded the observance of human and civil rights, as well as the right for education, publications and broadcasts in their native language to the extent equal to that available to Russians in the Mari Republic.
Appendix: Text of the resolution