Estonia ready for Putin's possible arrival for Finno-Ugric congress ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

President Kersti Kaljulaid and President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
President Kersti Kaljulaid and President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Source: Stanislav Moškov, VPK

If Russian President Vladimir Putin attends this summer's Finno-Ugric world congress in Estonia, organizers and the police have said they will be ready. However, Putin has not yet confirmed if he will attend.

The VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples will take place in June in the southern city of Tartu at the Estonian National Museum. The event will bring together communities whose languages stem from Finno-Ugric and are found in Estonia, Finland, Russia and Hungary. The congress takes place every four years.

On Monday, Anne-Ly Reimaa, head of International Relations in Integration at the Ministry of Culture, said: "We have no information yet on whether President Putin is planning to attend the event. We have asked the Russian Embassy, ​​but they do not know."

However, she said the organizers of the congress and the Police and Border Guard (PPA) have already prepared for Putin's arrival at the event.

Veiko Järva, the head of Tartu Police Department, confirmed the PPA has been preparing for some time to ensure the safety of heads of state, other guests and local residents visiting the congress.

"The police are ready to deploy additional forces from other units in South Estonia in the case of the world congress and the heads of states visits if necessary. We are working with the congress organizers and other partners to do this. The PPA's past experience in securing high-level visits has shown that thorough preparation and cooperation at the local level for these type of police operations yield the best results," Järva said.

While it is not know if Putin will attend the conference, it is known that the presidents of other Finno-Ugric countries - Estonia, Finland and Hungary - will be at the opening of the conference. They will also already be visiting Estonia for the Three Seas Initiative Summit, which will be at the same time in Tallinn. 

The last Russian president to attend the congress was Dmitry Medvedev at the congress in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2008.

An interactive display at the Estonian National Museum allows visitors to learn about similar words found across the Finno-Ugric and Uralic family trees, such as water, fish and nest. Source: (Aili Vahtla/Private library)

President Kersti Kaljulaid invited Putin to the world congress last year in April when she met him during an official visit in Moscow. Her office sent official invitations to heads of states last October.

The congress is a forum of Finno-Ugric peoples, independent governments and political parties and based on the Declaration of Cooperation of Finno-Ugric Peoples of the World. 

The objectives of the congress are to develop and protect the Finno-Ugric peoples' national awareness, cultures and languages, to promote co-operation between the Finno-Ugric peoples, to address current problems, to find solutions and to exercise the right of self-determination of all Finno-Ugric peoples.

The first World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples was held in Syktyvkar in the Komi Region in 1992, after which it has been organized every four years by Hungary, Finland, Estonia and Russia. The last congress in Estonia took place in 2004 in Tallinn.

The congress has a budget of €270,000 and is funded by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Research, Enterprise Estonia and the City of Tartu.

Estonian National Museum in Tartu. Source: Berta Vosman

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Editor: Helen Wright

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