Many were the raids on the Finnic brotherhood by foreigners, whose armies consisted of other Finns and Slavs. In 1656 for example, Moscow again turned their attention to Finland, Estonia and Livonia. Burning, killing and looting, the armies under Moscow raped the land clean all the way to northern Savo province. So many Finnish slaves were rounded up that you could get one at the Moscow slave market for 10 - 15 kopeks. The only thing that saved the Finns was that Moscow had other wars elsewhere that required the army. (Kuussaari, 1935)
As of 1999, the development of fascism in Russia threatens all minorities in Russia with ethnic cleansing.
Finno-Ugric People Today
Struggling with a common problem of survival, the Finno-Ugric peoples have in recent years established closer cooperation. The first congress for Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia took place in the Udmurt capital, Odzhkar in 1992. A committee for Finno-Ugric affairs has been founded, with headquarters in Finland. The representatives from Estonia and Hungary include members of parliament and government officials. The committee organizes conferences and seminars on practical issues, publishes information bulletins, supports educational and cultural policies (including the development of educational opportunities in Finland, Hungary and Estonia for Finno-Ugric peoples from Russia), tries to bring the Finno-Ugric minorities' problems international attention etc. All this had been taking place and things were going smoothly until Putin came into power. It seems that ethnic leaders have been denied visas to attend conferences outside of Russia. The climate of freedom has now been chilled by reversing many of the freedoms Russians were hoping for. Has this government thrown fear into the people on purpose, so they can take away their freedoms? Despite these roll-backs, Russians love their Putin as much as ever. Since the future of the Finno-Ugric minorities in Russia depends on the development of democracy in Russia, this does not look good for the future. The majority does not seem to care about the minority, and the ever-present question is, what will Putin do next?
Derussification of the Finno-Ugric People in FSU: a struggle against racism.
One of the most effective barriers to, or tools for, assimilation
is religion. Historically, it was effective since laws were passed regarding land ownership. In Mari El and probably other areas, it was necessary to be of the right religion to own land. Slavs began taking over the land, while the owners became renters, tilling the land for the owners who changed the names of the lakes, rivers and towns. Today, Finno-Ugric people could, if they wanted to, also change their villages and other topography back to the original names. There are many cases where even cities were returned to original names, for example St. Petersburg.
Finno-Ugrians in Estonia.
As a consequence of Russia's Slavic imperialistic policy, inwards as well as outwards, an important part of Finno-Ugrians live outside their ethnic homeland (as for Maris and Mordvinians, over 50%). Since the 16th century some have come to Estonia, too. During Estonia's independence (1918-1940) there were, according to the figures from the census in 1934, almost a thousand Ingrian-Finns living in Estonia.
Soviet deportation and immigration: a part of the Russification policy.
With the Soviet occupation in 1940 a policy of demographic change was initiated in Estonia by the Russians. Russia developed large scale industry there. This required additional manpower, from all over the Soviet Union, mainly Russians and other Slavs, to replace the tens of thousands of Estonians who were deported to Siberia. There were few Finno-Ugrians among the newcomers, except for Ingrian-Finns and Izhorians. For political reasons they were not allowed to live in their homeland in North-Western Russia and chose to settle nearby, in Estonia. For this reason, the Estonian people are justified in trying to reverse these injustices today. It is the right thing to do.
As a result of this policy, 18% of all the Ingrian-Finns in the Soviet Union were living in Estonia in 1959 (as were 34% of the Izhorians) - altogether about 17000 persons, which formed a relatively large minority group. This figure remained unchanged during the next 30 years. No other Finno-Ugric peoples are represented by more than a thousand individuals in Estonia. The larger groups according to the census in 1989 were: Mordvinians (985), Karelians (881), Udmurts (413) and Maris (359). The total number of the Finno-Ugrians from the former Soviet Union only formed 1.2% of the total population of Estonia. Most of them have arrived during the 60's and 70's. The migration was mainly directed towards the cities, areas with large scale industry, ie. Tallinn and North-Eastern Estonia. Most of the immigrants were young people.
Decline of Native Languages
Although Estonian is a language related to their own, the Finno-Ugrians were quickly russified even in Estonia, as Russian had become the dominant language of communication in the above mentioned areas. Less than half of the Finno-Ugrians have kept their mother tongue as first language. As for Finns, whose language is fairly close to Estonian, nearly 50% have changed to Estonian, whereas over 50% of the other Finno-Ugrians in Estonia have changed to the Russian language.
Finno-Ugric People Fight Back
Attitudes changed radically after the restoration of the Republic of Estonia. Like other ethnic minority groups in Estonia, the Finno-Ugric minorities have formed ethnic cultural associations (Finns, Mordvinians, Maris, Komis, Hungarians). Finnish and Ingrian-Finnish in Finnish associations are especially active, as these groups are several times more numerous in Estonia than all the other Finno-Ugric minorities combined. During the last few years people of Finnish or Ingrian-Finnish origin have also moved to Finland, with support from the Finnish government. Although Finland would like to bring more Ingrians to Finland, it is feared that this might totally wipe them out in Russia. Therefore restrictions have been made according such criteria as language skills and links to relatives in Finland. Ingrians, ("Inkeriläiset" in Finnish) are an offshoot of Karelians living between Estonia, St. Petersburg, and Finland; forceably dispersed throughout Russia after WW2 by train and dumped there in the middle of winter.
It may be possible to reinstate some minority people in Russia to their original homes and lands. Every effort should be made by the Russian government to do so.
An excerpt from Only Believe by Dan Wooding and Hannu Haukka, a Finnish Missionary to Russia from Vancouver B.C. (recommended reading):
"The war was over but the Inkeri people found no peace. Under German occupation, Estonia had welcomed them. Then came the Russians. After about three years, all those with Finnish surnames were to be expelled from Estonia. The Heinonen family were again detained in a prison camp. This one was called Ostrova. Another winter was spent behind barbed wire. They were eventually released by the Germans who were busy with the siege of Leningrad. But all was not well with this siege. Members of the Inkeri tribe intuitively sensed that it would be wise to flee to neighbouring Finland. But they were not even safe in Finland, for when the war finally ended, a peace agreement was signed between Finland and Russia, in which all Soviet residents would be forcibly returned to the USSR and were deported to an unknown destination.
As dawn broke and the snow continued to float down from heaven, the train came to a grinding halt at the Krestsy station. The train soon emptied of its passengers. Krestsy was apparently a random choice for the authorities. There was no logic in the decision except to splinter the Inkeri people and spread them throughout Russia, thus prohibiting uncontrolled contact among them." Yes, the same old divide and conquer trick. This way, a few generations pass, and the people have become Russians. (1970's and 80's new Ingerian generations grow in scattered places, and are part of something very big going on in the USSR)
Estonia Has a Long History in Finno-Ugric Studies.
During communist rule, a relatively large number of students and postgraduates of Finno-Ugric origin were enrolled at institutions of higher education in Estonia. Tartu University in particular has always promoted Finno-Ugric studies and tried to provide study possibilities to researchers of Finno-Ugric minorities. This tradition continues.
It is hoped that the newly updated law on cultural autonomy of ethnic minorities (enacted October 1993) will also help further develop the ethnic identity of all national minority groups in Estonia.
This is not about Slavic majority being bad and the minorities being good. It is about civil and human rights pure and simple. It is about people determining their own futures. The newly formed Soviet Union originally promised the local people language rights, but in reality, they worked hard to take them away, especially in the 1930's. The time has come for all these people to vote according to who can help their own languages to survive.
Peace of Tartu 14.10.1920: A trail of unkept promises.
A very similar process has been concluded recently between the British Columbia Government and the Nisga'a of B.C. (see below) This ensures the integrity of the Nisga'a culture, in the same way the above treaty was supposed to.
Today, Russians, like the Finno-Ugric people, want to preserve their cultural and national values, and the Pamyat (memory) society even seeks out "plots" against these values. Many Slavs feel their control threatened and want to renew hostilities towards other cultures, languages and religions. But it is the Finno-Ugric cultures and languages, not the Slavic language and culture, inside the Russian Federation that are now on the endangered list. The society has recently become more radical/fascist and have made threats against minorities, especially Jews. One member told a neighbour Jew that, when the time is right, they will kill all the Jews, and "you are my Jew." It is no wonder that so many Jews are leaving and settling in Israel. The Bible has predicted this, and some say that eventually Russia will follow these people to their land and try to destroy them there, but will be totally destroyed in the attempt.
But a greater threat to freedom of cultural and religious expression
comes from the Communist-Orthodox Church coalition. Russian Communist dominated
Duma has passed anti-religion laws, making certain religions more socially
acceptable than others, again the government telling the people what they
can think. (The government again treating the people like they were kids
and not competant to think) Freedom of religion is a good index of how
well a country is doing in its over-all level of freedom. I would like to report that things have changed from the days when the Orthodox church, hand-in-hand with the Czar, practised genocide in the north. Unfortunately, a lot of what you hear about Russian reform is propaganda. My source in Petrozavodsk reported March 8, 2004 "Also the Russian Orthodox Church de-facto are now the official Church of Putin's new Russian empire, intolerant and agressive." Politics and religion are at it again. The Finnish Orthodox Church, which Finnish Karelians belong to, are not tied to Moscow, as my friend pointed out
How Canada is resolving old conflicts between conquerors and the conquered:
The Nisga'a of British Columbia Canada (1998):