MINELRES: FUEN: Situation of Russia's Mari minority

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun May 8 19:50:24 2005

Original sender: Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples 

PRESS RELEASE                  Tallinn, 7 May 2005
For immediate release

Information Centre of Finno-Ugric Peoples
phone/fax: +372 644 9270
e-mail: suri@suri.ee


The 50th Congress of the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN)
held 4-8 May in Bucharest, Romania, discussed the situation of Maris, a
Russia's minority people.

This 650 thousand-strong people living in the Mari Republic (Mari El),
some 500 miles to the east of Moscow, demands the restoration of their
human and civil rights, the immediate end of ethnic discrimination and
harassment of political opposition, mass media and nongovernmental
organisations of their people. Organisations of the Maris also demand
the right for education, publications and broadcasts in their native
language to the extent equal to that available for Russians in the Mari

"Today there are absolutely no people descending from the Republic of
Mari El in the Russia's federal representative bodies. In the Government
of the Republic of Mari El itself, only three or four public employees
of Mari origin have remained", described the Chairman of the Mari
Congress Vladimir Kozlov the ethnic cleansing carried out in the local
administration of Mari republic, speaking to the FUEN congress. Kozlov
used the term "policy marked with Marifobia" and accused the
administration of this Russian province in "a planned action intended to
finally abolish the Republic of Mari El as a subject of the Russian

Kozlov was invited to give the FUEN first-hand information, since the
situation of the Maris has caused international attention. This
February, Kozlov was brutally beaten in his hometown, just like many
Mari journalists, political leaders and cultural workers before him, by
unknown persons. This has caused international protest, including the
Appeal on Behalf of the Mari People written by a group of Finnish
scientists, and an action of collecting signatures to support the Maris.
On the web page www.ugri.info/mari people from over sixty countries have
signed this appeal calling on Russia to stop the oppression of the Mari

The Congress of FUEN decided to include the information on Maris into
the report on the realisation of the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities. The Presiding Committee will draft a
resolution on the Mari issue.

Meanwhile the European Parliament is preparing to say its word. A draft
resolution on the situation in the Mari Republic was introduced on 2 May
by representatives of Social Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals. The
draft will be submitted to the plenary session of the European
Parliament to be held next week in Strasbourg.

The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) [In French: Union
Féderaliste des Communautés Ethniques Européennes (UFCE); in German:
Föderalistishce Union Europäischer Volksgruppen (FUEV)] is an
independent umbrella association of the organisations of national
minorities in Europe, which was established in 1949. Today, the FUEN
includes 76 member organisations from 32 states. According to its
statutes, the FUEN serves the ethnic groups in Europe and pursues the
goal of preserving their national identity, their language, culture and
the history of national minorities. This objective is pursued only by
peaceful means. It decisively takes a stand against separatism and the
violent moving of national borders, and
works towards a neighbourly, peaceful coexistence of majority and
minority in one state or region. In recognition of its efforts towards
attaining protection for European minorities, the FUEN obtained
consultative status to the Council of Europe in 1989 and a consultative
status to the United Nations in 1995. It is also represented at OSCE
(the former CSCE) conferences concerning national minorities and ethnic

Information: www.fuen.org, www.mari.ee