Finno-Ugric peoples facing new challenges


Keywords: Finno-Ugric minorities, national politics, Finno-Ugric cooperation

Despite the continuing decline of the already small numbers of the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Federation, the government makes efforts to prevent the development of education in their ethnic languages and teaching those languages. The few attempts of the Finno-Ugrians to stand up for their rights are dealt with as manifestations of separatism against the Russian state.

What is particularly repugnant to the Russian authorities is Finno-Ugric cooperation, which brings along distancing from the influence of Russian culture and a weakening of integration into the society meant to bear a Russian identity. Moreover, the republics of Estonia, Finland and Hungary tend to criticize the national politics of the Russian Federation, encouraging its Finno-Ugric peoples stand up for their national rights. This, however, is seen as a political issue not to be aired. The Finno-Ugrians should be content with a right to speak their native tongue at home, to prepare their national dishes, to wear their national costumes and have their national celebrations.

The ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine has sharply slowed down the cooperation and communication between Finno-Ugric peoples. Part of the Finno-Ugric representative organizations have approved the expansion to Ukraine as initiated by Vladimir Putin, while others are holding their peace. There are not many who are openly anti-war. Although the Finno-Ugric organizations are still active, they mostly deal with ethnic celebrations and marking their cultural space with commemorative plaques and monuments. Komi organizations stand out somewhat more, dealing with environmental issues and actively fighting for the teaching of their mother tongue in the schools of the Komi Republic.

The new situation makes one ask how should Finno-Ugric cooperation be developed in the future. It could be in the interests of Estonia to develop various educational platforms enabling virtual communication and to advance research activities. In the changed conditions we need to be able to guarantee the freedom of the Finno-Ugric national and scientific thought.


Jaak Prozes (b. 1965), MA, Fenno-Ugria, Counsellor (Pärnu mnt 28-9, 10141 Tallinn), info@fennougria.ee