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

Press release 25 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 Erzya minority complains of linguistic and cultural oppression

The Foundation for Salvation of the Erzya Language, a nongovernmental organisation of the Erzya ethnic minority in the Republic of Mordovia in Russia, disproves the rosy picture painted by the state-controlled media of the conditions of Finno-Ugric peoples in the Russian Federation.

In its open letter to the participants of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies held 15 to 20 August in Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of Republic of Mari El in the Russian Federation, the Foundation says that the Russian state-owned media is spreading misinformation to decorate the miserable situation of cultures and languages of the Finno-Ugric peoples, including the Erzyas.

The situation of Erzya and Moksha, the indigenous peoples of Mordovia, is disastrous, says the open letter. Their languages are excluded from the school curriculum in towns and large localities, while the number of rural schools is diminishing. There are no textbooks on their languages and cultures, and the history of these peoples is not taught at school. The policy in favour of Russian language and culture has produced a reduction in the number of both Erzya and Moksha by one-fourth during the last decade.

The open letter contains an invitation to Mrs. Katrin Saks, Estonian MP who is preparing a report on the situation of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to visit Mordovia to see the piteous situation. The authors recommend her not to trust assurances of the officials.

The Erzya and Moksha peoples, often jointly called Mordovians, are close in culture. According to the most recent data of the last population census, their total number in 2002 was 845 000, and the number of native language speakers was 67,4 per cent.

Following is the complete text of the open letter.


To the Participants of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies

Dear kins and relatives in language,

Reading our incoming e-mail with the coverage of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies, we cannot agree with their contents. In Mari El, as well as in other republics*, the authorities are deliberately using their subsidiary media to disseminate false information about the supposedly ideal situation of the languages and ethnic cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples. This is a misinformation with all the ensuing consequences.

The situation of the Erzya and Moksha languages in the area where 85 per cent of the Erzyas reside, that is in the Republic of Mordovia and near it, is particularly critical and even hopeless. Rural schools that one way or another have been teaching the native languages are dying away, while in schools of towns, settlements and large localities these languages are missing in the curriculum. The history of the native people is practically non-existent in the school syllabus and there are no related textbooks. In the programs broadcasted by the local TV, even the word 'Siyazhar' (The Light), the name of the local editorial office, has been cut out. The results of the imperial aggression are obvious: the population of Erzyas and Mokshas in Russia has dropped during the last decade by more than 300 thousand, that is by 25 to 27 per cent.

We ask representatives of the international community and particularly Mrs. Katrin Saks, Social Democrat member of the Estonian Parliament currently working on the report for the Council of Europe, to visit Mordovia. We also recommend to carefully read the material published in the newspaper Erzyan Mastor. Instead of ministers who would certainly draw an optimistic picture for you, upon your arrival first meet the Board of the Foundation for Salvation of the Erzya Language. Only then you will comprehend the fact that, indeed, the situation of the Erzya and Moksha languages, and hence of these ethnic entities, is catastrophic. It is needless to speak about human rights here in Mordovia. The genocide of the Erzya and Moksha peoples by the local as well as federal authorities of Russia is being carried out in all its manifestations.

In the name of Members of the board of the nongovernmental organisation Foundation for Salvation of the Erzya Language,

G. D. Musalyov
Chairman of the board
* of the Russian Federation (Translator's note).