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

Press release 09 August 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)

Estonian Member of European Parliament on discussion with Russian parliamentarians on Russia’s minorities (22.04.05)

European Parliament Examining the Mari Situation in Russia (11.03.05)

Mari Nation Under Threat in Russia (22.02.05)

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

Read more
(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


The DVD version of a documentary film banned for demonstration in the Mari El republic of Russia will be put on the market this Friday. The Mari Song Festival was banned for demonstration this July by the Russian regional television company GTRK Mari El. Despite the political prohibition, however, the Maris will be able to see it on the disc.

The film was made by Aleksey Alekseyev, himself a Mari, and produced in 2005 at the Estonian company Etnomeedia. The material was filmed by Alekseyev at a song festival in June 2004 in the Hill Mari region. The film shows the tradition of song festivals coming into being among the Maris.

The film was produced in Estonian, Finnish and English versions. A version with the accompanying text in the Hill Mari language was completed this June. The English version was demonstrated at the Anthropological Film Festival in the Estonian city of Pärnu on 5 July.

It was planned to broadcast the Mari version of the film on the television network in the Mari republic. The author agreed in good time with Nora Burtseva, a program host at the local television company GTRK Mari El. However, all sort of procrastination began when the author delivered the film. First it was said that the company had no means for recording, since the digital equipment was broken and sent to Moscow for repairs. Next, it was said that it turned to be impossible to synchronize the audio track with the videoimage. The film was then sent to a local company where Alekseyev had to pay for synchronizing the video and audio tracks himself. When no more technical hurdles remained, Director Galina Mikhaylova forbade the program host to broadcast the film. The pretext was that the GTRK Mari El cannot demonstrate films produced by other studios.

The film has no political color and deals exclusively with cultural matter. Nevertheless, it was banned. According to the director of GTRK Mari El, the prohibition should cover any film made in another Russian region or outside Russia.

This bizarre censorship affects only the Mari territory. The previous film made by Alekseyev that the GTRK Mari El had refused to broadcast as well, The Holy Mountain, was shown by its sister company in the Udmurt Republic, the GTRK Udmurtia. Both are the branches of the Moscow based state-owned holding VGTRK. The censorship might have been introduced either by the local management of the GTRK Mari El or by the parent company.

The new Russian federal policy in television broadcasting became apparent some time ago when transmission in local languages was considerably cut in many regions of the Russian Federation. This affected the Mari republic as well. Daily programs in the Mari language transmitted for four hours before 2000 have shrunk to one and a half or two hours. Instead of the evening, they are now broadcast in the morning when most of the viewers cannot see them. The Mari public cannot thus receive information in the native language and keep tied to their native culture. Moreover, archival videomaterials of ethnographic value about the culture of the local nation are being destroyed at the GTRK Mari El under the pretext of shortage of resources for purchasing video cassettes. The information policy of the government-controlled television has finally come to banning films on non-Russian cultures.

The DVD version of The Mari Song Festival can be ordered from the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples via e-mail: