Staunton, September 15 – The Kremlin is giving the Association of Finno-Ugric Peoples of the Russian Federation a grant of five million rubles (160,000 US dollars) to develop programs to promote cooperation among Finno-Ugric nations and to oppose national particularism, nationalism and separatism among them.
The Association, whose headquarters is located in Saransk, is headed by that city’s major Petr Tultayev, who is a former culture minister of Mordovia and now serves as a member of the Presidential Council for Inter-Ethnic Relations (mariuver.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/rf-fu-5/#more-35651 and izvmor.ru/news/view/17321).
Few people, readers’ comments on these sites suggest, that Finno-Ugric separatism is a real challenge to Moscow and that the Russian government has any interest in them besides russification, and many of those leaving a comment believe that this grant is yet another way for Moscow to transfer public money into private hands.
But just how sensitive Moscow is about Finno-Ugric activism was demonstrated again last week when the Russian agency responsible for supervising the media issued a warning to a Petrozavodsk television outlet for reporting that Free Karelia activists had issued runic money for tourists and collectors (sova-center.ru/misuse/news/persecution/2013/09/d27911/fighting).
In reporting this action, only the latest of moves against Finno-Ugric activism in Karelia, the SOVA human rights center in Moscow said that “from our point of view in this case, the concerns of Roskomnadzor relative to a possible threat to the territorial interity of Russia are without foundation."
Is the Kremlin Worried about Finno-Ugric Separatism?