Organisations representing the indigenous Erzya population of Russia’s Republic of Mordovia criticise harshly the preparations to the 5th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, now being held in Khanty-Mansiysk, capital of Yugra (Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug).
In an open letter to the delegates of the World Congress, Grigory Musalyov, Chairman of the Foundation for the Salvation of the Erzyan Language, Boris Yeryushov, Chairman of the ethnographic Rutsya Foundation, and Nikolay Anoshkin, Director of the Museum of Erzyan Culture, say that the World Congress is a show that serves Kremlin’s “power vertical”. The time is ripe for a truly democratic gathering of Finno-Ugric NGOs.
In Mordovia, the authorities made sure that those activists, who initiated the national movement of the republic’s indigenous peoples, — the founders of the Mastorava Society, the organisers of the first congress of the Erzya and Moksha peoples, and representatives of the Foundation for the Salvation of the Erzyan Language, — were not given a chance to attend the World Congress. Instead of Erzyans and Mokshas, the republican leadership nominated delegates representing “Mordvins”, which is not an ethnic group at all.
In his address to the World Congress and the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples, Boris Yeryushov states that the election of delegates and observers representing the Erzya at the World Congress was undemocratic. The Chairman of the Council of the Peoples of Mordovia, Mikhail Mosin, cited “technical reasons” for refusing to accept Grigory Musalyov, his deputy Yevgeni Chetvergov, and Boris Yeryushov as delegates to the World Congress.
The leaders of the national movement of the Erzya people regard the participation of the Mordovian delegation to the World Congress as illegitimate, and therefore call on the Mandatory Committee to refuse mandates to the members of the Mordovian delegation. The Erzyan activists also call on the Consultative Committee to take measures to ensure that the rights of the Erzyan people will henceforth be respected.
There is no doubt in the minds of the signatories of the open letter to the delegates of the World Congress that the summit has not been called to resolve the problems of preserving and developing the languages and cultures of Finno-Ugric peoples, but to continue the process of excluding all genuine defenders of the future of the Finno-Ugric peoples from access to media and open public discourse.
The World Congress will also serve to deceive foreign delegates, heads of Finno-Ugric states, and the international community as a whole that there are no problems with ethnic human rights in Russia, the letter concludes.
Open letter to Dmitry Medvedev
Paul Goble, 22.05.2008