Sunday, September 15, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Is the Kremlin Worried about Finno-Ugric Separatism?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 15 – The Kremlin is giving the Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples of the Russian Federation a grant of five million rubles (160,000 US dollars) to develop programs to promote cooperation among Finno-Ugric nations and to oppose national particularism, nationalism and separatism among them.

            The Association, whose headquarters is located in Saransk, is headed by that city’s major Petr Tultayev, who is a former culture minister of Mordovia and now serves as a member of the Presidential Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations ( and

            Few people, readers’ comments on these sites suggest, that Finno-Ugric separatism is a real challenge to Moscow and that the Russian government has any interest in them besides russification, and many of those leaving a comment believe that this grant is yet another way for Moscow to transfer public money into private hands.

            But just how sensitive Moscow is about Finno-Ugric activism was demonstrated again last week when the Russian agency responsible for supervising the media issued a warning to a Petrozavodsk television outlet for reporting that Free Karelia activists had issued runic money for tourists and collectors (

            In reporting this action, only the latest of moves against Finno-Ugric activism in Karelia, the SOVA human rights center in Moscow said that “from our point of ivew in this case, the concerns of Roskomnadzor relative to a possible threat to the territorial interity of Russia are without foundation."

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