Watch Live: VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples opening ceremony

Petroglyphs found in the Staraja Zalavruga caves in the Republic of Karelia - a Finno-Ugric heartland located in the present-day Russian Federation.
Petroglyphs found in the Staraja Zalavruga caves in the Republic of Karelia - a Finno-Ugric heartland located in the present-day Russian Federation. Source: VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples

The VIII World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples taking place in Tartu starts Wednesday, and the opening ceremony can be viewed via live-stream here, together with English-language simultaneous translation.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference is taking place in hybrid format, with most participants attending remotely. The opening ceremony, at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) begins at 2 p.m. Estonian time, and can be viewed by clicking the video link below.

Following approval of the rules of procedure and the congresses' working bodies, heads of state from four nations will issue their greetings, namely: President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, President of Hungary Janos Ader, President of Latvia Egils Levits and president of the host country, Kersti Kaljulaid.

Musical greetings and interludes including the traditional music of the Finno-Ugric peoples will take place throughout the proceedings.

The congress, which lasts a total of three days, requires a quorum of 11 Finno-Ugric nations to go ahead; this year, 14 are taking part.

While Estonia, Finland and Hungary are the only majority Finno-Ugric sovereign nations (Latvia is home to the Livonian minority), various Finno-Ugric nations have their homelands across a vast swathe of northwestern Russia, with the numerically largest nationalities including the Komi people, of the Russian Federation republic of the same name.

Russia's culture minister, Olga Lyubimova, is also taking-part and issuing a greeting.

Greetings of peoples from Karelian, Isurian, Livonian, Votian, Ingrian Finn, Veps, Sámi, Seto and Mansi national groups are also on the itinerary.

Linguistically, the Finno-Ugric languages are classified as a sub-group of the Uralic group, and in fact make up the bulk of that category. The "Finno" part of the binomial include Estonian, Seto and Võro languages (in Estonia), Livonian (Liivi) in Latvia, as well as of course Finnish, while the "Ugric" component includes Khanty and Mansi, in addition to Hungarian.

The Sámi languages are spoken in northern Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula in Russia.

A total of close to 400 people are taking part in the VIII World Congress – 124 delegates and almost exactly twice that number of observers, organizers say on their website

Helle Helena Puusepp is head of the congress organizing committee.

The congress organizers say their historical goal has been to develop and protect the national consciousness, cultures and languages ​​of the Finno-Ugric peoples, to promote co-operation between the various groups and to foster the rights of Finno-Ugric peoples to self-determination, in accordance with international norms and principles.

The first conference was held in the Komi Republic in the Russian Federation, back in 1992.

The impact of climate change, new media and language tech and many other cultural and related issues will also be on the table.

MTÜ Fenno-Ugria Asutus is the organizational body of this year's event, which it planned in cooperation with the Finno-Ugric Peoples' Consultative Committee.

The official opening ceremony web-page is here, while information on the representative bodies can be found here.

Opening remarks will be made by Tõnu Seilenthal, the Estonian nation's representative on the Consultative Committee of the Finno-Ugric Peoples, and chair of the congress, followed by Kadri Allikmäe, Kaisa Kuslapuu, while a musical interlude played on traditional bagpipes and other instruments will also take place, involving musicians from the Erzya, Komi and Udmurt people, as well as from Estonia, Finland and Hungary.

Minister of Culture Anneli Ott (Center) will also issue her greetings, along with her Finnish, Hungarian and Russian counterparts, and Tartu mayor, Urmas Klaas (Reform).

Other highlights of the first session will include the unveiling of a commemorative coin by Bank of Estonia governor Madis Müller, and a stamp and first-day cover from Sven Suurraid, head of state postal service Eesti Post.

More greetings, including from Sven-Erik Soosaar - Representative of the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Peoples, presentations and live music, featuring the music of Veljo Tormis (1930-2017) and performed by the Chamber Choir Collegium Musicale, as well as Finno-Ugric folk dancing, will also follow.

The exact timings of Wednesday's itinerary are still to be confirmed, at the time of writing.

The congress organizer's site is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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