Syres’ Boliayen, the chief elder of Erzya people, condemns Russian policies to small ethnic groups in his speech at the UN session of  Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, statement by Erzya Inyazor website.

Made possible by the Ukraine’s UN representatives, the speech came as the first statement on an UN official event delivered in the Erzya language.

Syres’ Boliayen  called on the international community to mount pressure on  Russia over the treatment of his people.

“Erzya can survive COVID-19 pandemic, but can’t survive in Russian Federation. Only international pressure on Moscow could protect us from the very last phase of ethnocide.”, he emphasize,” he stressed.

He drew attention to Moscow’s policies of neglect and discrimination the indigenous people  are facing.

“In the last 30 years Erzya have been degraded from a nation of few million people into a small ethnic group on the brink of complete extinction – without wars, plagues and forced deportations. Our fellow neighbours in Idel-Ural region, namely Mokshans, Udmurts, Mari, Chuvashs, Bashkirs and even Tatars have found themselves in the very similar situation. Native peoples in Russia are forbidden to have their own political parties, their national universities or even to study their mother tongues in secondary schools. Just dances in folk dresses are allowed. Those who stand up to fight for rights of their own people are pursued by police as extremists or sent to compulsory treatment in psychiatric institutions.”, he said.

The Erzya leader also submitted to the Forum office a statement on violations of rights of indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation. The document cites politically motivated prosecution campaigns against Tatar community Center and ‘Baskort’ public organization, and repressions against leaders and activists of Tatar, Ingush, Kalmyk and Buriat national movements.


* Erzya people

Erzya is a branch of the Finno-Ugric peoples that are natives to the area along the rivers of Moksha, Sura, Volga, and Bila.  They claim to be a separate ethnic group rejecting a label of a ‘subgroup of Moksha people’ imposed by Moscow.

The Russian law prohibits regional (ethnic) parties. To protect their ethnic rights and advance their political agenda,  Erzya people  set up their own system of national bodies.