October | November | December | 1997


The first number of Karielan shana, a newspaper of the Tver Karelians Cultural Society, was published in Tver (former Kalinin Region, Russia). The editor is Antonina Zaitseva. The four-page issue is partly in Karelian, partly in Russian.

2 The head of administration of the Komi Republic (Russia) issued a decree On Approval of the State Programme for Implementation of the Law of the Komi Republic The State Languages of the Komi Republic: Preservation and Development of the Komi Language for 1997 to 1999. The programme, backed with 17,130.5 million roubles ($ 3.06 million) from the local budget, covers the expanding of functions of Komi language, establishing of sunday schools and evening courses of the Komi language, and the purchase of software fonts in Komi for urban and regional administrations. Training of teachers of the Komi language and literature has been started. On the basis of the Department of Finno-Ugric Studies at the Syktyvkar State University, a section of Komi culture is to be established. Directions of research and publishing activities are also outlined in the program.


9 to 14 The Fourth International Congress on Hungarian Philology The Hungarian Culture and Christianity was organised in Rome by the International Society of Hungarian Philology (founded in 1977). The Congress was patronised by the Presidents of Italy and Hungary who were also present at the opening. One thousand years ago the Italian Benedictines founded the first Hungarian monastery.

20 At the opening of an exhibition of Udmurt culture at the Estonian National Museum (Tartu, Estonia) Mrs. Tamara Shirova, Director of the National Museum of Udmurt Republic, awarded Aleksei Peterson, an Estonian ethnographer, the honorary title of the Merited Man of Culture of the Udmurt Republic. Thanks to Mr. Petersons work the ENM has developed into the centre of preservation and research of Udmurt material culture. The museums depository includes more than 1400 species, 4000 photos and 5000 drafts of the Udmurt material culture.


The Education Ministry of the Republic of Karelia (Russia) approved a scheme for development of the Finno-Ugric school system that would presumably improve teaching of Finnish, Karelian and Vepsian languages in the republic.

The Committee for Revival of the Komi People held its sitting in Ukhta. Information was delivered about the 2nd World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples. The Komi delegation at the Congress, led by the Committee Chairman Valery Markov, aimed at seeking jointly with the international community via the UNESCO and the Consultative Committee solutions to problems facing the population of Komi Republic. At the elections of representatives to the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples, V. Markov and V. Kiselyov were re-elected.

At the Centre of Komi Culture in Ukhta (Komi Republic, Russia), a seminar National and Cultural Centres: Practice of Activity for the culture and education workers was held by the Ministry of Nationalities and the Ministry of Culture of Komi Republic. Among the participants were Valery Markov, Vice-Chairman of the State Soviet of the Komi Republic and Chairman of the Committee for Revival of the Komi People; Alexey Beznosikov, Minister of Culture; and Alexey Konyukhov, Minister of Nationalities. The topics included problems of the centres of national culture, beggarly state of the Komi-language magazines and newspapers editorial offices. The need to publish childrens books in the Komi language was discussed. A round-table discussion was held on the legislative basis for nationalities policy in the Komi Republic.


6 Elections of the local parliamentary body, the National Assembly, were held in the Republic of Mari El (Russia). There are 67 one-mandate constituencies in Mari El, according to the republics Election Law. In 58 constituencies, the elections were considered legal. In 9 regions, electoral activity was low and by-elections will be held. Among the 58 elected MPs, only 16 are Maris. The only elected woman is an ethnic Belarussian.

7 to 10 An international conference The Structure and Development of Volga-Finnic Languages was held in Yoshkar-Ola (the Republic of Mari El, Russia) by the Mari University and the Finno-Ugric Peoples Culture Development Fund. Presentations were made by participants from Finland, Mordovia, Udmurtia and Mari El.

9 The IV Seto Congress was held in Värska, Estonia (see documents passed on the Congress).

9 to 16 An exhibition of the works by Imre Makovecz, a Hungarian architect, took place in Tallinn (Estonia).

13 to 15 The Tartu Co-ordination Centre of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) and the Estonian Pan-European Union hosted an international conference Small East European Nations at the End of the Second Millennium. The representatives of Ingrian Finns, Komis and Setos, who were among the participants, also took part in the regional meeting of UNPO held in the frame of the conference. The conference was attended also by the Estonians and a representative of Hungary. The conference accepted a resolution. The regional meeting adopted a resolution and proposals to the UNPO Steering Committee.

14 to 20 The Finlands National Board of Antiquities held a museum workers seminar in Helsinki for the Finno-Ugrians of Russia.

15 to 21 A folklore festival held in the frame of the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days drew together over seventy Finno-Ugrian folk musicians Udmurts, Komis, Maris, Erzyans, Mokshas, Livonians, Finns and Hungarians to perform in different counties of Estonia. The festival culminated with a gala concert at the National Library in Tallinn. The festive meeting in the Tallinn Town Hall, which concluded the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days in Estonia, received greetings from the President of Estonia Mr. Lennart Meri.

17 to 20 A scientific conference for Finno-Ugric and Nordic folk music specialists Folk Song and Folk Music as the Carrier of Tradition and the Object of Cultural Exchange was held in Laulasmaa (Estonia). The event was dedicated to the problems of identity. The question of how to integrate into the present-day world and the modern culture, while preserving ones ethnic and cultural peculiarities, was discussed.

At the third weekend, the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days were celebrated in the Finno-Ugrian territories. The first Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days were held in Finland on Feb. 28, 1928 together with the Kalevala Days. At the IV Cultural Congress of Finno-Ugrians (1931) it was decided to celebrate the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days in Estonia, Finland and Hungary on the third weekend of October each year. After the World War Two the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days were cancelled in Finland, as well as in Estonia and Hungary. The tradition was re-established in 1988, first in Estonia. The year 1991 was a break-through in the history of the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days: almost all Finno-Ugrian peoples celebrated the Pan-Finno-Ugrian Days for the first time in their homeland in the territory of Russia.

18 to 20 The University of Tartu (Estonia) hosted an international scientific conference on linguistics Mother Tongue and Other Languages. The conference worked in three sections and dealt with the problems of contrastive linguistics, the methodology of language studies and testing of language command, as well as relationship between the language and the society.

17 The Finno-Ugric Department of Helsinki University hosted the seminar The Present Day and the Future of Finno-Ugric Studies in Finland. The present situation in Finno-Ugric studies and the ways of its development in Finland were discussed. Guest lecturers were Prof. Michael Branch from London and Prof. Ago Künnap from Tartu.

18 The Sterlitamak Pedagogical School and the Sanotav Pedagogical College (Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia) presented the newly opened course for Erzyan primary school teachers and nurses at pre-school institutions. Twenty-five entrants were accepted for the first year. Representatives of the Mordovian Ministry of Education participated at the presentation.

18 to 19 At the Fourth Mari Congress held in Yoshkar-Ola, Mr. Vasily Pekteyev, Art Director of the Mari National Theatre, was re-elected the Chairman of the Mari Public Council (Mari Mer Kanash). Lyudmila Ivanova and Vasily Yanalov were elected Vice-Chairs. The 350 Congress delegates from the Republic of Mari El and outside were greeted by the President of Mari El Mr. Vladislav Zotin and representatives of the Ministry of Nationalities and Federal Relations of Russia.

The congress listened to the reports by the board of the All-Mari Council and the board of the all-Mari democratic movement Mari Ushem. It was decided to merge the two all-Mari national organisations.

The work at the congress was basically arranged in sections as follows: politics, social and economic issues, education and culture, youth, and mass media. Resolutions were adopted on each of these areas. An appeal to the Mari people was also adopted.

The final documents of the congress contain requests and proposals to the government and the State Assembly of the republic concerning measures on economic improvement, social guarantees to the residents Mari El, ensuring the rights of Maris to develop their native language and culture. The congress called on the government and the citizens to strengthen and develop the statehood and sovereignty of the Republic of Mari El.

The all-Mari forum called upon strengthening and development of interstate co-operation between Finno-Ugric states and republics in economics and culture. Delegates of the congress stressed the need for consistent and planned nationalities policy in the Russian Federation that would ensure national development and social and economic well-being of all peoples in Russia.

The first and the second Mari Congresses were held in 1918, the third one in 1992. (Some materials of the 3rd and 4th Mari Peoples Congresses)

18 to 25 The week of Hungarian culture in Estonia was held, dedicated to the 1100th anniversary of the Hungarian Conquest.

19 The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Mari El was reorganised into the Ministry of Culture and Nationalities. The Minister has remained Mr. Viktor Leonidovich Nikolayev.

19 to 20 A conference Minor Languages in Multicultural World was held by the Finnish National Committee of UNESCO, the M. A. Castrén Society and the Folklore Department of Helsinki University. The conference was greeted by the Minister of Education of Finland, a representative of UNESCO Mr. Agostin Gatera and the Minister of National Affairs of the Udmurt Republic (Russia) Mrs. Svetlana Smirnova. Stephen A. Wurm, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Juha Janhunen held presentations on multilingualism, the perspectives of minor languages and language rights. Anna-Leena Siikala spoke of the role of traditional culture as the creator of identity. Their presentations were commented by representatives of Finno-Ugrians from Russia and S?mis from Finland. In the frame of cultural programme, the performance of an Udmurt actress Olga Alexandrova was a big success; films by Finns, S?mis and Khanties were demonstrated, Wimme Saari performed yoiks (traditional improvisational Sámi songs). For the first time, Europe could enjoy the authentic Khanty bear ritual. (See Summary)

22 to 24 The Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples held its session in Saransk (the Republic of Mordovia, Russia). The Committee admitted Izhorians as its new members. The sitting was attended by representatives of Erzyans, Finns, Hungarians, Ingrian Finns, Karelians, Komis, Mansis, Maris, Mokshas, Udmurts and Vepsians. Instead of the Estonian members of the Committee, who have time and again had difficulties with their Russian visas, their deputies were present. Representatives of Khanties and Permian Komis were missing. Representatives of Tver Karelians, the Finno-Ugric Youth Association and the Ministry of Nationalities of Russia attended as observers. The Chair of the Committee was re-elected Valery Markov, Vice-Chairman of the Komi parliament and Chairman of the Committee of Revival of the Komi People. Nine delegations voted for him. The competing candidate Leonid Gildi, Chairman of the Association of Ingrian Finns Inkerin Liitto, won four votes. The new standing rules of the Committee were adopted and the working plan for 1997 was approved. The Hungarian ambassador in Russia Mr. György Nanofsky presented an overview of the Second World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples. The great event in Budapest hosted 125 Hungarians and 277 foreign guests. Unfortunately, the Hungarians were unable to detect how many of them were delegates, how many observers and how many guests. The Committee sent a letter of gratitude to the President of Hungary Arpád Göncz, the Government of Hungary and the organisers of the Congress. The Committee resolved that the Chairman shall address the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia with a note concerning the visa problems of the Estonian members of the Committee. The Committee will hold its next sitting in Tver (Russia) in March and the preparatory meeting of the Committees co-ordinators will be held in March in Tallinn.

25 to 29 Setumaa (South-East Estonia, partly under Russian jurisdiction) hosted the Days of Finno-Ugrian Children.


A Finnish broadcasting company Yleisradio produced a multimedia CD-ROM containing audio-visual materials on expeditions by Into Konrad Inha into the territory of the present-day Republic of Karelia in Russia at the beginning of this century. For the first time, 220 photos made by Inha in Karelia are presented.

4 to 6 Saransk celebrated the 120th anniversary of an outstanding Erzyan (Mordovia, Russia) sculptor Stepan Erzya with a conference The Erzya Lectures. Art historians from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Finno-Ugrian territories of Russia participated. A monument to Stepan Erzya was unveiled.

S.Erzya. Self-portrait.1908

6 The new parliament of the Republic of Mari El held its first sitting. Among its sixty-seven MPs, the Maris make up one-third and hence are under-represented. The Speaker was elected Mikhail Mikhailovich Zhukov who has been working for a long time at high posts in the agroindustrial complex. The Vice-Speaker was elected Vasily Galimyanovich Kapisov, formerly the head of the Kuzhener Region Administration, a university graduate with a diploma in agriculture.

8 to 10 At the world music festival Etnosoi! in Helsinki, a vocal group of Bessermen from Shamardan village (Northern Udmurtia) and the Eastern Samis last local singing tradition carriers Maria Zakharova and Katrin Korkina performed.

11 to 13 The University of Glazov (Udmurtia, Russia) hosted a conference of young Finno-Ugric scientists titled The History and Culture of Finno-Ugric Peoples. The event was attended by scientists from Komi, Mari, Udmurt and Mordovian Republics, as well as from Perm and Kazan. The only foreign participants came from Estonia. (See Summary)

12 In Yoshkar-Ola, the Mari Institute of Language, Literature and History held a seminar Finnish Scientists on the Mari Language and Culture, dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Finnish scientist Yrjö Wichmans first expedition to the Maris.

12 The first performance of a one-actor-play The Cradle of the Ugrians by Yuvan Shestalov, a Mansi writer, was staged at the Helsinki Jurkka-Theatre (produced by Väinö Lahti, performed by Maria Wolska).

14 An agreement on educational co-operation was signed in Saransk (Mordovia, Russia) by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Mordovia and the Estonian Mordovian Society.

18 The election campaign for the President started in the Republic of Mari El. The candidates affirmed by the Central Election Committee are the president in power Vladislav Zotin, Ivan Khlebnikov (the Minister of Agriculture), Gennady Maksimov (a manager of a joint-stock company), Anatoly Popov (a counsellor at the Territorial Government of the President of Russia), Vyacheslav Kislitsyn (a member of the Federal Soviet of Russia) and Leonid Markelov (a deputy of the State Duma of Russia, Liberal Democratic Party). Registration of the two last mentioned candidates is contrary to the Article 76 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mari El, which states that the president of Mari El must have command of the two State languages of the republic Russian and Mari. The Russian State Duma entered the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation with an inquiry on conformity of the Article 76 of the Constitution of Mari El to the Constitution of Russian Federation. On December 20, the President in power V. Zotin issued a decree postponing the elections until the court decision. On December 21, Head of the Presidential Administration of Russia A. Chubais sent a telegram prohibiting postponement of the elections and the Supreme Court of Mari El abated the presidential decree as being contrary to the Constitution. The Chairman of the Mari Congress Vasily Pekteyev called for a boycott of the elections. (See also December 22.)

16 to 23 The Concert Masters International, in co-operation with the Hungarian Union of Choirs and Orchestras, the Estonian Choir Association, the Finnish Singers and Musicians Union and the Finnish Kodály Society, organised a festival of Finno-Ugric choir music. The event was meant as a major meeting of choirs of the three independent Finno-Ugrian states. Music, though, was not limited to those three. At the opening concert, the Estonian childrens choir Ellerhein performed Finno-Ugric Landscapes by Veljo Tormis an arrangement of fifteen Finno-Ugrian nations songs in original languages. In the frame of the festival a musicological conference was held (November 18 and 19) on the heritage of Zoltán Kodály in Hungary and Finland.

20 to 21 The Izhevsk University hosted the first international symposium on Permic languages, dialects and history. (See Summary)

26 to 27 A students and young teachers practical-scientific conference on the ethnology of Permic peoples was held in Syktyvkar (Komi Republic, Russia). (See Summary)

27 The world premiere of the Finnish composer Aulis Sallinens Symphony No 7 The Dreams of Gandalf in Göteborg (Sweden) was conducted by the world-famous Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi.

30 Espoo Theatre in Finland had the first night of The Hungarian Medea, a play by Arpád Göncz.

30 Yury Deryabin (64) concluded his duties as the Russian ambassador in Finland. He was the ambassador in Helsinki since 1992. His successor is Ivan Aboymov (60).


The Foundation for Development of Karelian Culture (Finland) awarded the writer Simo Hämäläinen with the prize Karelia for his novel on Karelian motifs.

2 The leader of the Finnmark Department of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party declared that the State is not to give up its demesne in Finnmark (Sámi territory in Northern Norway). Earlier, the State Commission of lawyers that carried out an investigation into the claims over this land had ruled that the land in Inner Finnmark (Kárášjohka, Guovdageaidnu and Tana communities) ought to belong to the Sámis. The Chairman of the Norwegian Sámi Parliament Ole-Henrik Magga presented an inquiry to the Norwegian Government. He considered the local party leaders statement being inconsistent to the Convention of Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the International Labour Organisation. Norway ratified the Convention in 1990.

15 The Finnish Institute in Tallinn presented a collectanea of speeches delivered at the 1st Congress of Finno-Ugric Historians Historia Fenno-Ugrica. The congress was held in 1993 in Oulu, Finland. The collectanea was published by the Societas Historiae Fenno-Ugricae (founded at the congress) and issued by the printing-house Ühiselu (Tallinn, Estonia). The Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vähi sent his greetings to the presentation. The event was honoured by the presence of the Finnish ambassador in Estonia Pekka Oinonen and the honorary consuls of Hungary in Estonia Mall Hellam and Ago Künnap, who held a greeting speech. The problems were discussed concerning the next Congress to be held in Estonia in 1998.

17 Alexander Yuzykain, a Mari writer and kart (nature worship priest), the founder and the first leader of the Mari nature worship organisation Osh Mari Chi Mari passed away at the age of 68 in Mari El.

22 The presidential elections in the Republic of Mari El were held anyhow. (See also November 18.) The two candidates with the greatest number of votes were Vyacheslav Kislitsyn and Leonid Markelov. Neither of them speaks Mari language. The second round held on January 4 was won by Kislitsyn (58.8 per cent) who thereby was nominated the President of the Republic of Mari El.

26 to 28 The visit of the Foreign Minister of Romania Adrian Severin indicates the improvement in the relationship between Romania and Hungary. The attitude of the Romanian new government is that each and every citizen of the state must have the right for education in ones mother tongue. In Budapest the Foreign Minister gave a hint that it might be possible to re-open the Hungarian university in Kolozsv?r (Cluj), closed down in 1958. The previous government of Romania tried to inhibit the development of Hungarian-language education and culture in Transylvania. Today, the Democratic Union of the Hungarians in Romania has entered the new ruling coalition led by the Democratic Convention of Romania. Hungarians have been living in Transylvania, which presently belongs to Romania, ever since the 10th century. Until now the situation of Hungarians in Romania has been the main disturber of normal relationship between Hungary and Romania. The planned visits of the Prime Minister of Romania to Budapest and the President of Hungary to Romania thereafter are to affirm the rapprochement of the two states.


From October to December, Ms. Maria Täpsi, an instructor in Estonian language and literature, lectured at the University of Saransk (Mordovia). Alongside with the universities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the University of Saransk with its 19,000 students is the third largest university in Russia. An instructor in Finnish is also lecturing there at present. The Department of National Studies has made it known that the university is ready to introduce regular courses of the Estonian language into the curriculum. The university hopes to see the Fenno-Ugria Foundation and the Open Estonia Foundation (the Estonian branch of Soros Foundations) as its partners in co-operation.