Staunton, April 25 – From late Soviet times and especially after the disintegration of the USSR in 1991, Moscow has been afraid that the three Finno-Ugric nations which have achieved independence, Estonia, Finland and Hungary, will inspire the Finno-Ugric nations living within the current borders of the Russian Federation to seek a similar status for themselves.
It has carried out propaganda campaigns against the idea of Finno-Ugric cooperation, purged the leaderships of national movements in the various Finno-Ugric regions and republics of Russia, and thrown up roadblocks to cooperation between them, on the one hand, and Estonia, Finland and Hungary, on the other.
Now, the Russian authorities have taken what for them certainly appears to be the logical next step: they have forced the Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples of Russia (AFUN) to cancel plans to take part in the next world congress of Finno-Ugric nations in Tartu, Estonia’s university city (afunrf.ru/news/zayavlenie_afunrf_2021/ and idelreal.org/a/31219316.html).
In language all too obviously dictated by Moscow, AFUN says that in recent time, “destructive and clearly politicized tendencies” have marked the international Finno-Ugric movement” and that Finno-Ugric leaders abroad have sought to radicalize Finno-Ugric nations in Russia by playing up negative stories about Russian treatment of them.
The organization expressed its anger at Toomas Hendrik Ilves who then in the capacity of president of Estonia in 2008 suggested that the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia should engage in “self-determination by establishing their own states within the Russian Federation,” an obviously unfriendly act.
According to AFUN, the Russian government has been “a leader” in promoting the development of the genuine values of the Finno-Ugrics and in opposing the false notions that Finno-Ugrics abroad have sought to push forward. And because of that, AFUN said it would not attend the congress this year and might not attend any future ones unless there were changes.
AFUN said it remains open to genuine and respectful international contacts, but activists say that is not the case and that the organization is cutting itself off from the Finno-Ugric world in ways that undermine the development of Finno-Ugric peoples in the Russian Federation (https://t.me/uralistica_com/6328 and t.me/komivoytyr/475).
AFUN must not be confused with MAFUN, the Youth Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples. It is not connected with the Russian government and is led by a citizen of Estonia.