June 30, 2020. Presentation of new Erzya magazine, designed and released by emigrants from Russia, took place in Kyiv. The event was streamed online, all interested commenters had the opportunity to communicate with editorial board members who worked hard to create the magazine.
“ĚRZÄŃ VAL”, that can be translated as “Erzya word”, was introduced by editorial board led by Syres’ Boliayen’, chief elder of Erzya people (erz. Inyazor). He explained that idea to publish an Erzya magazine emerged just in current year: “We do understand that our resources are extraordinarily limited. It is hard to say that “ĚRZÄŃ VAL” belongs to mass-media because we have only 100 copies of this very first issue. But now it is the only independent print edition of Erzya. Websites appear and disappear, but verbatim magazines will remain in libraries and archives for history. Russian authorities hardly censors any publications of native peoples in Russia. Only conformist, pro-Russian press is allowed to exist, all dissidents are declared as extremists. That’s why it is important to have an independent intellectual platform where we will be able to have honestly discussions about present and future of Erzyan’ Mastor. Our new magazine must become such platform”.
First edition of “ĚRZÄŃ VAL” is 55-pages colour-printed magazine. More than half of magazine’s content is in Erzya language, some articles are dubbed in English and/or Ukrainian. Several pages speak in Russian, especially for those Erzya who don’t know their own mother tongue at all or know it very poor. Magazine cover features Jovlan’ Olo, one of the most famous figures of Erzya national revival and hero of feature story here. Also there are publications about newest history of Erzya national movement, reflections of Erzya activists on relationships with Russian authorities, preparations to next Ras’ken’ Ozks and so on. Special attention has been given to culture and history issues – not only Erzyan ones, but also global. “ĚRZÄŃ VAL” is expected to be released twice a year.
Kirdia Ozhomason’, project benefactor and editorial board member, explained that fundraising as well as all other operational issues were managed by Secretariate of Inyazor (Inyazor’s office) and Erzya informational commission (EIC). “As a matter of fact, these people were the basis for our editorial board, but many of those who worked very hard and invested very much of their effort, time and money, can join our open presentation nowadays. Some active board members live in homeland, that is Erzyan’ Mastor. We can’t reveal their identities for obvious security reasons, but we express our sincere gratitude for their dedication”, he said.
Online translation audience asked about reasons to release the magazine specifically in Ukraine, about funding sources and plans related to further editions.
Mitriai Chepelen’ from Kyiv Erzya society answered that first edition’s budget amounted to approximately USD800. Design, typography and distribution costs were covered by accumulated donations of Erzya from diaspora as well as from Erzyan’ Mastor. Editorial board plans to publish new editions on a half-year basis. E-version of “ĚRZÄŃ VAL” is already available on Inyazor’s website, Chepelen’ said.
“We have been asked why an Erzya magazine should be printed in Ukraine? It should be noted that those who ask such questions, usually reside beyond Russian Federation. Erzya people from Erzyan’ Mastor, Samara, Moscow or Saint Petersburg are very well-informed on political realities in Russia. “Erzyan’ Mastor” is the name of the last independent newspaper in Republic of Mordovia. It was repressed by police and public prosecutors from 1999 to 2015. Pressure only stopped when editorial board was completely replaced with pro-Russian loyalists. It was the inglorious end of old-school “Erzyan’ Mastor” that mutated into an ordinary mouthpiece of Kremlin propaganda, praising Russian authorities and cursing any critics. Yes, we have released our magazine in exile. However, the only limitation we feel is financial, but we are strong enough to overcome it”, – he summarized.