Saturday, September 13, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Finno-Ugric Activists in Crimea Increase Contacts with Co-Ethnics in Russia

Paul Goble


            Staunton, September 13 – The Parma Society, a group created in 2009 to help preserve and develop the cultures and languages of Finno-Ugric peoples living in Crimea, is moving to expand contacts with co-ethnic communities in the Russian Federation, something Moscow will welcome if influence flows in one direction but not if it flows in the other.


            Tatyana Ivanchenko, the group’s head, told this week that she hopes to expand links with the Komi Republic in order to jointly create television broadcasts about the Finno-Ugric peoples on the occupied Ukrainian peninsula, to expand tourism and local activism, and to promote scholarly research (


            Komi officials are looking forward to reciprocating.  Galina Gabusheva, Komi minister for nationality policy, said that “our cooperation will be directed toward providing assistance for the study of the history, language and culture of the Komi people and acquainting [Finno-Ugrics in Crimea] with the achievements of the Komi Republic.”


            On the one hand, Russian officials are very interested in promoting such ties. Not only does boosting the status of such extremely small ethnic communities in occupied Crimea have the effect of diluting the importance of larger minorities like the Crimean Tatars, but it also lead another group in Crimea to conclude that their homeland will be part of Russia forever.


            But on the other hand, once such channels are established, information and ideas often can flow in both directions. The Maris have an active national movement, and many of them are very much opposed to the Moscow-imposed republic head under whom they have to live. And the Maris in Crimea may thus get some messages Moscow would prefer they not receive.




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