The Chief elder of Erzya people (Inyazor) Syreś Boläeń met with Kaimo Kuusk, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to Ukraine.
On June 1, Inyazor Syreś Boläeń and a representative of the Kyiv Erzya community, Dmytro Levus (Chepelen Mitryai), visited the Estonian Embassy in Ukraine at the invitation of Ambassador Kaimo Kuuska.
During the meeting, the parties discussed Estonian-Erzya contacts and prospects for cooperation in the development of the Erzya language, strengthening the Erzya cultural presence on the Internet and intensifying contacts of national representative bodies of the Erzya people with Estonian scholars and educators.
“The meeting took place in an extremely warm and friendly atmosphere. I was impressed not only by the hospitality of Estonian ambassador, but also by genuine and sincere attention with which he listened to me. The conversation lasted for more than hour, and during this time we managed to outline possible areas for cooperation, as well as exchange views on the current situation of Erzya people and other indigenous peoples of Russian Federation. I told the ambassador that national policy of Russian Federation has only one goal, that is complete assimilation of indigenous peoples. We are forbidden to have our own political parties as well as full cycle of education in our native language. Erzya language is completely removed from domains of public administration and local self-government. In fact, my language is taught in schools as an optional course for a very little time. In such conditions children cannot learn Erzya language properly, and even those who receive a certain basic level of native language proficiency from their parents experience incredible difficulties using Erzya in writing”, – Boläeń commented.
The guests presented the Estonian diplomat with the first issue of ĚRZÄŃ VAL magazine, Erzya national symbols and shared plans for next projects of Erzya language development to be implemented in 2021. Inyazor informed the ambassador about world-wide reaction to his speech at the XX session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Syreś Boläeń and Kaimo Kuusk discussed the forthcoming VIII World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples to be held in Tartu on June 2021, as well as problems faced by Erzya delegation during preparation for the Congress.
“However, they did not only talk about the problems and challenges facing the Finno-Ugric movement. We told the ambassador about success of “Tüštäneń pškadema” song arranged and performed by Ukrainian band “Komu Vnyz”, as well as about our work on production of audiobooks in Erzya. In fact Mr. Kuusk was extremely interested in the project of Erzya-language children’s fairy tales and prose stories. He agreed to help in making contacts with Estonian universities and individual scholars in Finno-Ugric studies. In this context next scientific conference on Erzya issues, which is planned to be organized by Erzya diaspora and Ukrainian scientists, is also a subject of great interest. We also asked for help from Estonian scholars with professional works on the history of Erzya people, including a short period of Erzya statehood in the times of Inyazor Purgaz”, – says Dmytro Levus (Chepelen Mitryay), a member of Inyazor’s Secretariat and an activist of Kyiv Erzya community.