Friday, June 18, 2021

Internet Defeats Moscow’s Efforts to Undermine Finno-Ugric Unity, Congress Organizers Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – The Russian government took a variety of steps in order to undermine the Eighth World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, but the mixed face-to-face and online format meant that many of the Finno-Ugric nations living within the current borders of the Russian Federation took part.

            Not only did that mean that the congress this week is legitimate -- according to the organization’s charter, a congress must have representatives from 11 Finno-Ugric nations; but this one has representatives from 14 – but organizers stressed that the use of the Internet will ensure that the linguistic-cultural group can develop ever-closer cooperation.

            The congress in Tartu, which formally opens tomorrow, has attracted 124 delegates, officially representing these 14 nations as well as 229 observers, guests and journalists, has already received messages of greetings from the presidents of Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia (

            Estonian Culture Minister Anneli Ott said that “together we want to make the Finno-Ugric world more significant so that it will last for many more centuries. We can give one another hope and faith that we will remain … Without the small peoples, the world and our cultural space would be much more boring and impoverished.”

            Tõnu Seilental, an Estonian representative on the Consultative Committee of the Finno-Ugric Peoples and one of the main organizers of this Congress, says that even though others have been “putting sticks in the wheels, we in spite of this have continued to move the cart forward and look for new forms of activity,” including the Internet.

            The current Congress’s “hybrid format,” he continues, provides “a very much needed experiment for the Finno-Ugric peoples.” It gives them “new possibilities.” Of course, face-to-face meetings are especially valuable, but online contacts are important not only during such meetings but in the periods between them.

            As he and other leaders of the Congress say, “the historic goal of the World Congress is to develop and defend the national self-consciousness, culture and languages of the Finno-Ugric peoples, to promote cooperation among Finno-Ugric peoples … and to search for solutions to their problems and ensure the right of all Finno-Ugric peoples to self-determination.”


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