VIII Congress of the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples (MAFUN) Aimed to Revive Former Activity of the Organization
Nina Nesterova, one of the MAFUN Elders’ Council members, the president of MAFUN 1995-1997, cited the above statement in her speech during the inauguration of the Congress on the 22nd of August in Syktyvkar.
The Congress, held in the capital of the Komi Republic, was host to 90 representatives of Finno-Ugric regions from Russia: the Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Areas, Udmurtia, Mordovia, Mari-El, Bashkortostan, Komi, Vepssk Karelians and Komi-Permians.
By virtue of circumstances there were no representatives from Finland, Estonia and Hungary. Only one observer from Estonia was present.
Altogether, only 23 delegates out of 40 nongovernmental organization members of MAFUN visited Syktyvkar.
The head of Komi, Vladimir Torlopov, made the welcoming speech at the opening of the young politicians Congress. According to his outlook, the Finno-Ugric movement has become more intense during the last 10-year period, and state interest toward the problems of nations has also increased.
Vladimir Torlopov attached considerable significance to the fact that the only Russian Finno-Ugric Cultural Centre, functioning in Syktyvkar since 1991, was given the federal status upon governmental approval, which in turn provides additional opportunities for further development. Moreover, Torlopov mentioned that Komi is the pioneer in organizing various projects, and has successfully realized projects in other Finno-Ugric regions of Russia as well. These are: summer university projects of young philologists, translators institute, international children’s drama festival “En Dzird” (“Divine Sparkle”), international Finno-Ugric fashion festival “Finno-Ugri: art style.”
Torlopov considers the main aim of MAFUN is to contribute toward further consolidation of Finno-Ugric cooperation.
Nina Nesterova tried to give a working approach to the plenary session of the Congress. She reiterated that the activities of MAFUN had been on the decline during the last years, partly because of the absence of foreign delegates participating in the congresses.
Furthermore, the organization does not have a proper working documentation. Therefore Nina Nesterova offered to revive MAFUN activity, and to expand it on the international level. She avowed that, “Today we have all the necessary conditions to do so: very helpful state organizations have been established, in particular, the Finno-Ugric Cultural Center in Syktivkar and the Volga Regional Centre in Saransk. Previous activities in cooperation with advisory commissions of Finno-Ugric people ought to be re-established.”
Some members of MAFUN also criticized their work. Tatjana Ishmatova from Udmurtia named MAFUN “an elite club, of which becoming a member is prestigious, but organizations-members are uncoordinated.”
Meanwhile, the report on previous two years of activities under the active president of MAFUN Vassili Petrov was approved by the delegates. According to Vassili Petrov, “one of the aims had been achieved – instead of expending efforts on large-scale and expensive undertakings, members of MAFUN successfully managed to mobilize the rural youth.”
Also, the delegates approved of novices joining the MAFUN: the association of Finno-Ugric people of Barkoshtan and editorial staff from the youth magazine “Jologa” (Komi).
The work of Congress lasted until the 24th of August. Sessions on “Mass Media”, “Ethnopolitics and law”, “Rural youth, language and culture”, “Ethnic Variety”, and “Ethnic Education” were held, as well as meetings with director of Federal Finno-Ugric Cultural Centre Svetlana Belorusova were arranged.
The aim of VIII Congress of MAFUN was to determine means of development, electing new staff of administration and a new president of the association. At the suggestion of the MAFUN Elders’ Council member of Komi, Nina Nesterova, “MAFUN: Problems and Perspectives” section was organized. Resolution and agenda of the undertakings were
accepted as the result of the Congress.
The Congress also acknowledged a number of important decisions on the democratization of the MAFUN’s activity administration. The number of administration staff (Executive Board), was decided to be increased from 5 to 12 members so that each region has its own representative in administration. In order to make the local work easier, delegates decided to develop a system of coordinated centres in Finno-Ugric regions. It was also decided to bring back the old tradition of electing the president from the region where the Congress is conducted. This principle in effect eliminates the struggle for power and provides an opportunity to representatives of all the Finno-Ugric nations to become the head of the movement. Thus Vassili Petrov was replaced by Aleksej Rassyhaev, a specialist in folklore from Komi.
The new Executive Board’s staff has difficult tasks ahead to carry out, such as the inspection of activities of associative members of MAFUN, to establish relations with organizations in Estonia, Finland, and Hungary and to strengthen work on joint projects.
The Congress was financially and organizationally supported by the Department of National Politics of the Ministry of Culture and National Politics of the Komi Republic, State establishment “Finno-Ugric Cultural Centre of the Komi Republic” and Finno-Ugric Cultural Center of the Russian Federation.
Natalia Likhacheva, Alexander Cykarev, transl. by Viktoria Malceva, Estonian Environmental News Agency ‘GreenGate’ Russian Edition