Skip navigation

Erzya writer, scientist and societal figure Nuyan Vidyaz 90 years

Nuyan Vidyaz (Yevgeny Chetvergov) was one of the founders of the Mordvin (Erzya and Moksha) national organisation Mastorava in 1989. In 1993, however, he felt that the Erzya needed to organise separately. He was one of the founders of the Erzya Language Foundation (1993-2019). From 1994 to 2017, he was editor-in-chief of Erzyan Mastor, a newspaper published by the Foundation.

Nuyan Vidyaz

Nuyan Vidyaz (civil name Yevgeny Chetvergov), was born on 30 March 1934 in the village of Ardatov in the Dubyonsky district of the Mordovian ANSV. In 1959 he graduated from the Penza Agricultural Institute as an agronomist. After this he worked as an agronomist for many years. In 1965 he entered the postgraduate course at the University of Mordovia. There he defended his thesis for the degree of Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences. From 1968 to 1996, Nuyan Vidyaz worked at the same university as an associate professor. He has published a number of books on cereal farming, but since the 1980s he has been writing fiction.

To date, he has published a dozen books and many of his stories have appeared in periodicals.

Erzyan Mastor

Erzyan Mastor was the only oppositional nationalist publication of Finno-Ugric peoples to appear regularly. It sharply criticised the assimilationist national policy of the state authorities, as well as the national situation of the Finno-Ugric peoples. The newspaper was taken to court several times, but was nevertheless allowed to continue its activities.

For Nuyan Vidyaz, the problems of the Erzya and Moksha stem from the fact that they are called Mordvins. But there is no Mordvin language, there is the Erzya language and the Moksha language. Mordvins are, in fact, Russified Erzya and Moksha who do not speak their own language. That is why the Republic of Mordovia should also be renamed the Republic of Erzya-Moksha or Erzyaland. Nuyan Vidyaz has always been courageous and outspoken in his statements. For example, at the III World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples in Helsinki in 2000, the theme of which was ‘Discrimination against the Erzya people in the Republic of Mordovia and throughout Russia’. And he is still a headache for the authorities, for example, 89-year-old Chetvergov was detained even in October 2023 on charges of founding an extremist organisation, while his home was searched.

Life-long work

He is a great son of the Erzya people, who still feels that he owes much to his people and has done little. He also believes that he must suffer and pay a high price for his truths.

Nuyan Vidyaz has written :

‘As long as you live, you must pay for every breath. The price is even higher for those who know much or try to live by their wits. Such people are more often called names, scolded, intimidated and taken revenge upon. For the sake of truth and reason, they often miss out on life. As Plutarch said: “Truth that is made public is paid for in a special way.”‘


‘A long time ago, I hung two birch bark containers on the wall. In the first of them I return everything I got from my mother, from the first day I was alive until I grew up. In the other, I put what I have done and what I am doing that is good for the land, which is in my heart and which is called Erzyan Mastor – Erzya Land. Deep are these dishes. I am afraid I will not be able to fill them. And that is why, when I leave for the hereafter, I feel regret and weep that I did not do so many things that I could have done, that I did not finish my filial duty to my mother and fatherland.’

(Quotes from the story ‘I am afraid of not fulfilling ….’ and from the book ‘Where is the purity of soul?’, 2009).

Fenno-Ugria wishes Nuyan Vidyaz good luck and good health!