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Estonian President Says Russia Accelerating Finno-Ugric Assimilation

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has accused Russia of suppressing the culture of its Finno-Ugric minorities by decreasing education in their traditional languages.

Ilves said on January 7 that "Russia has stopped or limited the provision of education in the national languages of the Finno-Ugric peoples, which accelerates assimilation and the disappearance of their culture."

He was speaking in the southeastern Estonian village of Obinitsa, which has been declared the cultural capital of the Finno-Ugric peoples of the world in 2015.

Ilves also said the construction of a new port on the Gulf of Finland in Russia is destroying a village of a Finno-Ugric nation called the Vot.

Territories traditionally populated by Finno-Ugric groups such as Komi, Udmurts, Mari, Mordva, Khanty, Mansi, and others are regions within the Russian Federation.

With reporting by Interfax