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Mari El and Udmurt Republics 103 years

On 4 November, the birthdays of republics were celebrated in Mari El and Udmurtia, capped by the celebration of the Russian Federation’s newest national holiday – the Day of National Unity.

Celebration of the Udmurt Republic and the Day of National Unity of the Russian Federation on 4 November 2023. Photo:

The celebrations of the national republics, despite being over a century old, were overshadowed by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and the war propaganda that accompanies the offensive.

Thus, the day was mainly celebrated as the Day of National Unity and on this occasion, President Putin also sent his congratulations to the peoples of Mari El and Udmurtia. The citizens of the two republics were greeted by their leaders, Yuri Zaitsev and Alexander Brechalov, respectively, whose congratulations were empty and focused on how the two republics have united different peoples who live in harmony. They emphasised that it is this unity that makes them strong, and it is needed in these difficult times, because it will contribute to new victories.

However, Anatoly Smirnov, Chairman of the State Council of Mari El Republic, in his speech, noted: ‘It is our common duty to help the Russian soldiers who are heroically fighting neo-fascism in Ukraine, as well as to support the newly reunited regions that are restoring peaceful life.’ He also expressed hope that together they will win the war.

The Senator of Mari El Republic in the Federal Council of Russia Sergey Martynov also decided to greet the Mari people on their republic’s birthday, and half of the greeting was filled with reflections on the war in Ukraine. ‘The sons of Mari El are now continuing their grandfathers’ fight against Nazism, a terrible disease that has gripped the entire Western world. Our boys are fighting every day against the real evil, which is being fed in abundance by NATO countries.’

The leaders of the Udmurt republic were not so bellicose: the Chairman of the Udmurt State Council, Vladimir Nevostruyev, modestly noted the republic’s contribution to making Russia safe and strong. The Russian leader of Udmurtia said that the Udmurt flag and coat of arms were being celebrated on 4 November.

On the basis of the material available on the Internet, none of the speeches thought it worthy to mention the Mari or Udmurt people whose name the republics bear.

Various events were dedicated to the anniversaries. For example, the 10th Youth Festival of National Cultures ‘Strength is in Unity’ was opened in the newly renovated Youth Palace in Yoshkar-Ola, Mari El. All over the republic, concerts were held in regional centres to mark the anniversary, and thematic exhibitions were opened in libraries.

In Izhkar (Izhevsk), Udmurtia, a festival entitled ‘We are united – we are invincible’ was held on the occasion of the Republic’s birthday and Day of National Unity. The festival featured performances by artists well-known in the republic, as well as representatives of different nationalities. The speech was delivered by Tatyana Ishmatova, Deputy Speaker of the State Council of the Udmurt Republic and long-time head of the Udmurt representative organisation Udmurt Keneš – Udmurt Council. She found that ethnic relations in the republic are developing harmoniously, opportunities have been created for the study of ethnic languages and national celebrations are being organised. Udmurt national leaders laid flowers in front of the memorials of the founders of Udmurt (Votyak) autonomy, Joseph Nagovitsyn, Boris Trokai and Kuzebai Gerd. Humanitarian aid was also collected for the Lutuginsky district of the Lugansk People’s Republic, with which Udmurtia has a cooperation agreement. On the day of the celebration, a recruitment campaign was also organised, with instructors talking about how great the special operation in Ukraine is and how much money can be made.