On Erzya participation in VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

The author of the photo: Aivar Ruukel.

As is well known, VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples was intended to be held this year in Estonia. Viia-Kadi Raudalainen, managing director of NPO Fenno-Ugria, informed the public that the Congress is re-scheduled to 2021 because of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However participation of delegates from Erzya people in the work of the Congress still remains to be among unsolved issues of key importance.

In January 2020 Syres’ Boliayen’, Inyazor, appealed to Fenno-Ugria Foundation and Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples with an official letter reporting that Erzya people aim to send its own delegates to the Congress.

Inyazor’s letter remained unanswered for a very long time. Only after repeated requests and numerous voice calls  to Tallinn Fenno-Ugria finally acknowledged receipt of the letter. Foundation representatives informed that in light of the previous practice Erzya people will be represented on the Congress by delegates from so-called “Mordovian convention”.

In view of the foregoing, Council of Elders (At’yan’ Ezem) and Inyazor of Erzya people consider it necessary to make their joint public statement as follows:

1.   Erzya is one of the most numerous stateless Finno-Ugric nation of the world. We are distinct, self-sufficient people with our own language, culture, history and traditions.

2.   Under any circumstances Erzya do not acknowledge themselves a sub-ethnic group within so-called “Mordovian” or any other nation. We consider the very concept of “Mordva” as foreign-imposed discriminatory label – real Erzya position on their autonym is manifested in Declaration on official naming of Erzya people, adopted by Congress of Erzya people on 23 March 1995.

3. Erzya as well as many other indigenous peoples of the world have their own national representative bodies. Exactly Inyazor and Council of Elders, according to Statute on creation and functioning of national representative bodies of Erzya people, are authorized to represent interests of the whole Erzya people, particularly in international organizations and institutions. 

4. Erzya national movement had elected its delegates to the Congress, which was then communicated to the  Congress organizers by official letter.

5. We were offered to agree that Russian officials and state budget employees who depend on supreme authorities and very often are directly controlled by the latter, are the only authentic voice of Erzya people expressing its right to speak on behalf of all Erzya.

6. Erzya are people, not some bureaucratic class. We consider it unacceptable to coordinate position of our national movement with officials of Russian state or employees of budget establishments. Inyazor and Council of Elders express interests and aspirations of Erzya people rather than bureaucratic apparatus or Edinaya Rossiya party.

We openly repeat our call to Fenno-Ugria Foundation and Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples with a request to clarify the status of Erzya delegates to VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples.

Adopted at At’yan’ Ezem meeting

Decision No 4 of 12 June 2020.

Syres’ Boliayen’,

Inyazor.

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