Thursday, June 10, 2021

Moscow’s Efforts to Isolate Russia’s Finno-Ugric Peoples from Finno-Ugric World Continue to Collapse

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 8 – Moscow’s efforts to isolate the Finno-Ugric nations of the Russian Federation from the three Finno-Ugric countries, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary, are collapsing with ever more members of these peoples condemning these attempts and indicating that they will ignore them.

            Many have already criticized Moscow’s plan to block Finno-Ugric people from participating online in the Eighth World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples as wrong and suggested its alternative Russian-only was a meaningless sham show that left Finno-Ugric peoples completely unimpressed ( and

            Now, Natalya Antonova of Karelia says she plans to attend the Estonian meeting despite Moscow’s opposition and that the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia “simply have to survive this time” when the powers that be are working so clearly against the interests of their peoples (

            What the Russian authorities are trying to do, she says, reflects the worsening of relations between Moscow and the West. Despite the unfortunate language Russia’s pocket Finno-Ugric organization used in speaking about the “paternalistic” approach of Finno-Ugrics abroad, that has never been in evidence in the more than 30 years of cooperation.

            “I very much hope for better times when relations between Russia and Europe will become what they were and when we will be able to continue normal cooperation. That has developed over the course of three decades, and it can’t be destroyed in the course of one year,” however much some in Moscow may want that to happen.

            The Karelians like the other Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Federation will take part in the Tartu meeting in mid-June online. (The pandemic precludes travel, she says.) Karelia will have 15 delegates, they are all signed up, and she will be presenting the message of greeting from Karelians to the other Finno-Ugric groups.

            All of them will feel free to raise the issues closest to their hearts, including in particular the survival of their native language. Despite official pressure on some of the delegates, Antonova says, they or their replacements will feel free to speak out in defense of their national languages and national cultures.

            “We do not want any confrontation and we ae completely shocked that officials have placed political obstacles on the path of the development of international cooperation of Finno-Ugric peoples,” the Karelian activist concludes. But those obstacles are not insuperable, thanks to the Internet, and better times will eventually come.  

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