MINELRES: SURI press releases: Conditions of Finno-Ugric peoples in the Russian Federation

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Sun Aug 28 17:00:02 2005


Original sender: Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples <press@suri.ee>


Press release                 Tallinn, 19 August 2005
For immediate release

INFORMATION CENTRE OF FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES
Tallinn, Estonia
Phone/fax:      (+372) 644 9270
E-mail:         suri@suri.ee
http://www.suri.ee/


HOPELESS UDMURTS APPEAL TO EUROPE FOR SUPPORT

The authorities of Udmurtia, an autonomous republic of the Russian
Federation, have practically liquidated the only grammar school in the
capital city of Izhkar (Izhevsk) with the instruction in Udmurt
language.
The school had been functioning for eleven years. The lengthy struggle
of schoolchildren's parents for normal conditions for their children has
ended with removing the pupils to schools with the instruction in
Russian.

The Kuzebay Gerd School was named in the honour of an Udmurt enlightener
killed in 1937 by the Russian authorities under the pretext of being a
Finnish spy. As the school has now practically ceased to exist,
interethnic tensions in the Udmurt Republic have strained. The hopeless
parents complained to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE) of which the Russian Federation is a member. They accuse
the authorities of disregarding the interests of Udmurts who are the
native population of Udmurtia.

The official policy was vividly articulated by President of Udmurtia
Aleksandr Volkov. At a recent meeting with leaders of ethnic and
cultural associations, he stated that creation of such "ethnic
reservations" is undesirable.

The Udmurts are a Finno-Ugric people. They live in the Udmurt Republic,
an administrative unit located between the Kama and Vyatka rivers. The
territory of Udmurtia is covered with the forest and forest-steppe, and
borders the steppe zone. According to the 2002 All-Russia population
census, the number of Udmurts is 637 000, with 464 000 (73%) speaking
the Udmurt language. Two-thirds of the Udmurts live in Udmurtia, and
one-third reside in the adjacent republics of Bashkortostan and
Tatarstan, and in the Perm and Kirov districts. The Udmurt language is
taught in Udmurtia, as a rule, only in primary classes of rural schools.

______________________________

Press release                 Tallinn, 25 August 2005
For immediate release

INFORMATION CENTRE OF FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES
Tallinn, Estonia
Phone/fax:      (+372) 644 9270
E-mail:         suri@suri.ee
http://www.suri.ee/

ETHNIC MINORITY IN RUSSIA: MEDIA IS FILLED WITH MISINFORMATION
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).


---------------------------------

Press release                 Tallinn, 26 August 2005
For immediate release

INFORMATION CENTRE OF FINNO-UGRIC PEOPLES
Tallinn, Estonia
Phone/fax:      (+372) 644 9270
E-mail:         suri@suri.ee
http://www.suri.ee/


SORB MINORITY IN GERMANY EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH THE UDMURT MINORITY
IN RUSSIA


The Union of Lusatian Sorbs 'Domowina' (Germany) sent a letter of
support to the Udmurt schoolchildren's parents who struggle against the
decision of Russian authorities to close down the only school in the
Udmurt capital with the instruction in the Udmurt language.

In its letter to the Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples, the
Domowina says that Lusatian Sorbs are struggling for the preservation of
school education in their mother language in Germany, and therefore
support the Udmurts in their struggle.

The Udmurts are the indigenous people of Udmurt Republic in the Russian
Federation. In its capital city Izhkar (Izhevsk), the Kuzebay Gerd
Grammar School was the only remaining school with the instruction in
Udmurt language. The lengthy struggle of schoolchildren's parents for
normal conditions for their children vas in vain: the children were
removed to schools with the instruction in Russian.

"The smaller a nation, the more important children's education in mother
tongue becomes. Regardless of the number of a nation, every person has
the right to education in his mother tongue", the Union of Lusatian
Sorbs says in its letter.

The Sorbs learnt about the Udmurt culture this year when the Udmurt folk
group Aykay performed at the folklore festival Luzhica 2005.

Sorbs are a 60 thousand strong Slavic people living in Germany near to
Lausits (Luzhica in Sorbian), in the fomer East-German Federal Lands of
Brandenburg and Sachsen. The Sorbian language has Upper and Lower
dialects, each having the literature form. The Sorbs have kindergardens,
primary schools and one secondary school. Sorbian is taught as a subject
in five other secondary schools as well.

The Udmurts, a Finno-Ugric people, live mostly in the Udmurt Republic,
an administrative unit located 1200 km to the east of Moscow. According
to the 2002 population census, there are 637 thousand of Udmurts, of
whom 67 per cent speak the Udmurt language. Two-thirds of the Udmurts
live in Udmurtia, and the rest in the adjacent republics of
Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, and in the Perm and Kirov districts of the
Russian Federation. The education policy of the Udmurt Republic has been
to limit the teaching of Udmurt language, as a rule, to primary classes
of rural schools only.

______________________________

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