Erzyan Elder Says Estonia a Model for His Nation

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During a visit to Tallinn, Bolayen Syres, chief elder of the Erzyan people who along with the Moksha form the Mordvins, said that Estonia is a model for his people, yet another indication that for the Finno-Ugric nations within the borders of the Russian Federation, Estonia has overtaken Finland and Hungary as the nation these peoples look to.

While laying flowers at the city’s Victory Monument which honors the memory of those who fought for the independence of the Estonian Republic, Syres said that “Estonia is a native land for the Erzyan. As one of the most successful nations in the Finno-Ugric world, Estonians are for us the indisputable authority and guide”.

The Estonians, he continued, “support us in difficult times and are pleased by out achievements. We feel and value this special attitude,” one highlighted by the decision of Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves to present the Order of Terra Mariana to Kshumantsyan Pirguzh, Bolayen’s predecessor as chief elder.

“Estonia serves as an example for the Erzyan: how to love and struggle for one’s native land, how to preserve and develop one’s language and culture, how to be successful and rich, and how to extend the hand of help to brothers. We are grateful to the Estonian fighters for their courage, hope and victory which are for us guiding principles.”

Syres has an interesting background. He was elected chief elder of the Erzya while living in Kyiv where he has enjoyed the support of the Ukrainian authorities who have regularly talked about supporting the non-Russian nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation cf.
Ukrainian Parliament Calls for New Sanctions Against Moscow for Mistreating Non-Russian Nations

Upon Syres’ election, Moscow media attacked him, claiming that he “has no support among the Erzyan population of Russia” and that his election “lacked legitimacy.” The Russian authorities are likely to be no more pleased by his comments in Tallinn.

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Paul Goble

Source: Window on Eurasia

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