MINELRES: Resolution of European Parliament: Mari minority in Russia

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sun May 15 20:17:22 2005

Original sender: Mart Meri <press@suri.ee>

PRESS RELEASE 			 Tallinn, 12 May 2005
For immediate release

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


A resolution on the condition of the Mari minority nation in the Russian
Federation was passed unanimously by the European Parliament at its
plenary session in Strasbourg today. The Parliament deplores breaches of
human rights and democracy taking place in the Mari Republic (Mari El),
an administrative unit of Russia.

The resolution says that the Maris face considerable difficulties in
obtaining education in their native language, that there is no secondary
or higher education in Mari, and that the publication of Mari textbooks
has severely declined in the past years. It says that journalists of
non-state mass media have been continuously and frequently assaulted,
harassed and intimidated in Mari El, including the killing of three
journalists in 2001 and the beating of Chairman of the Mari Congress Mr
Vladimir KOZLOV on 4 February 2005, and that local and federal
governments fail to take adequate steps to bring the perpetrators to

The resolution calls on Russia's federal and local authorities to
respect the freedom of press, to immediately stop political retribution
directed at dissenting public servants, and to refrain from undue
political interference in the affairs of educational and cultural
institutions. It calls on Russia to respect its obligations under
international law concerning protection and development of minority
languages and cultures.

The Estonian member of European Parliament Mrs. Marianne MIKKO said in
her speech before the voting: "Altogether, national minorities in Russia
make up 28 millions of people. Four million of them speak Finno-Ugric
languages. In the Mordovian language spoken by around a million people,
just some twenty books are published each year, no newspapers are
published, nor is this language taught in any school. The situation of
the Maris is but a bit better."

The draft resolution was submitted by representatives of the Group of
the European People's Party and European Democrats (EPP-ED).

This move followed a wide international protest against the oppression
of the Maris, 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. The web page www.ugri.info/mari has collected
signatures from over sixty countries.

The Maris are a 650 thousand-strong people (however, according to the
last census, there number has decreased already to 604 thousands) living
in the Mari Republic (Mari El), some 500 miles to the east of Moscow.
Today, the Maris are grossly underrepresented in Russia. A constant
ethnic cleansing carried out in the local administration of Mari
republic has reduced the number of public employees of Mari origin from
30% to some three or four persons. Neither are there any people
descending from the Republic of Mari El in Russia's federal
representative bodies. The Maris have repeatedly demanded the observance
of human and civil rights, as well as the right for education,
publications and broadcasts in their native language to the extent equal
to that available to Russians in the Mari Republic.

Information: Mart Meri, phone + 372 51 27314