MINELRES: SURI press release: Minorities going underground in Russia

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Mon Jun 13 20:51:23 2005

Original sender: Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples

PRESS RELEASE Tallinn, 7 June 2005
For immediate release

Tallinn, Estonia
Phone/fax: + 372 644 9270
E-mail: suri@suri.ee


The 2nd Congress of Ethnic Maris of the Republic of Mari El was held in
the forest in fear of persecution

The extraordinary congress condemns the policy of Russian administration
and expresses its gratitude to the international community for support

Amidst a wave of persecution on ethnic grounds and physical violence
against the indigenous nation of Russia's autonomous Republic of Mari
El, the 2nd extraordinary Congress of Ethnic Maris of the Republic of 
Mari El was held June 5 in a traditional holy grove, the cultural
organisation Mari Ushem reported.

Attended by foreign press and visitors, the popular representative
assembly was decided not to be convened in the capital city of the
republic, remembering the 1st Congress in December 2004 that took place
in the street, in frosty weather and encircled by the riot police armed
with submachine guns. This time the congress was prepared in secrecy. To
avoid provocations and attacks organised and supported by the
authorities, the event was conducted in the forest, including the press

Speakers at the Congress condemned the acting president of the republic
Leonid Markelov for his policy of producing ethnic and economic
disorder, and destabilising cultural and social life. In their speeches,
visitors and guests of the Congress condemned the late events in Mari El
including the mass beatings of ethnic Maris and the policy of breeding a
conflict between the Maris and other nationalities, and artificially
splitting the population into separate communities.

In its resolution, the congress declared any attempts to accuse the Mari
nation in "nationalism" as ill-founded and provocative. The resolution
says: "We demand that our constitutional rights in our own republic be
observed, without restraining the rights and interests of the whole
population irrespective of ethnic origin."

The congress condemned the hysteria boosted by the republic's
administration and the authorities-controlled collection of signatures
in protesting against the European Parliament's Resolution "Violations
of human rights and democracy in the Republic of Mari El in the Russian
Federation" passed this May.

The congress also expressed its gratitude to "all progressively-minded
people in Russia and abroad who have publicly condemned the policy of
the present authorities of the Republic of Mari El under Markelov".

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