MINORITY IN RUSSIA: MEDIA IS FILLED WITH MISINFORMATION
The Erzya minority complains of linguistic and cultural oppression
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
is the complete text of the open letter.
Participants of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies
and relatives in language,
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
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.
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.
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).