(working name,  ®VS 2000)

  Vepsian Renaissance

  General strategies program :  

common project by Scandinavian NGO Organisations and Vepsian Society




Mental and physical survival of Vepsian nation as an ethnic minority




  1. Revitalization of Vepsian language and traditional culture
  2. Aiding measures on economical survival in crisis circumstances



·        Educational infrastructure


Present situation à

à Resulting from previous

à Proposed Solution

In only 30% of Vepsian settlements there’re schools;

Some schools are regarded as a burden to authorities – closing is threatening;

Vepsian is being taught in a few schools mostly as an optional or hobby subject;

Many indigenous speakers with enough skills are willing to start as teachers of Vepsian but they cannot with no salaries paid under their hard circumstances;

Working teachers lack books, methodical and audible/visual materials/devices etc.; they have to work on ground of their enthusiasm only because of no centralized guidelines or united educational system;

Vepsian as a subject looses in its popularity among parents while being associated with lower living standards. Parents has fear that a good command of Vepsian by their children can decrease their knowledge of Russian which is regarded as a key point when competing for education/working places.

* Separateness à many Vepsian pupils have to attend Russian schools, living far away from their native language environment

* Bad working conditions à

lack of financing results in the situation when teaching Vepsian is carried out by selfless enthusiasts only;

* No materials à Vepsian school books etc cannot be printed and delivered to remote hard-passing areas due to high printing and transportation rates

*  No methodical supervision à teachers in every village feel left alone with no future for their subject

* Low popularity à some parents do not want let their children to use spoken Vepsian. It happens often that even in purely Vepsian families a broken and mistaken Russian is chosen for family consort and older family members are forbidden to address young people in Vepsian. In general Vepsian language is being in many cases underestimated, its significance for preservation of national culture is being often misunderstand. Many Vepsian feel ashamed of using it in public keeping it for a rudimental and useless in today’s world. This situation was caused to life by Russians’ disrespecting and intolerant attitude towards minority cultures  

1)    Founding small low-budget schools or language centers in every Vepsian village to make pupils stay home around the year. It is very important especially in their green years to hear the language everyday from native speakers.

2)    Paying salaries to Vepsian teaching enthusiasts supplying them with books and other teaching materials. Working out curricula and keeping regular school supervising contacts.

3)    Increasing the national identity  by strengthening international relations between Vepsians and partner and school organizations in Finland, Estonia and other Scandinavian and Western countries. The goal of this measure should be to demonstrate the interest and respect towards Vepsian language and culture. Continuing the School computing program, Vepsian Society ’97: introducing computer devices and organizing data processing  lessons in every school, compiling learning and vocabulary applications and games in Vepsian as well as Vepsian internet sites. Targeting: a) to increase pupils interest for Vepsian by studying it via computer, b) to eliminate the diminutive attitude towards the language demonstrating in this way that Vepsian can be used as a modern mean of communication (such as English, for instance) to control computer systems and thus to strengthen  the status of Vepsian.



·         Cultural infrastructure

(partly described above)



Present situation à

à Resulting from      


à Proposed Solution

 In early 30-ies all churches around the Vepsian area were closed and turned into culture houses or “clubs”. Now the church does not plan to reuse these buildings so every village has good-conditioned large premises at its disposal. Formerly people gathered there for movies or amateur concerts, now no longer.

Presently the Vepsians can express themselves in their home life only. Rich national traditions such as worthy window decorative panels etc. still stamp Vepsian wood cottages, which are “things of art” themselves, representing the Northern peasant building style in ist purest form.

In some villages there are folk history and tradition museums, working on school or library premises.

Libraries are everywhere but books and newspapers in Vepsian are scarce in titles and not sufficient for loaning.

Linguistic situation:

Older generation: native Vepsian often as an only language, a perfect command of it, willing to train young people

Middle generation: native Vepsian, good command of it, Russian as second language also, only 50 % use Vepsian in their families, generally negative attitude to teaching Vepsian to youth

Young generation: Russian as native mostly, passive command of Vepsian, but very interested in their roots

 * drab life à Today’s Vepsian everyday life in the country is drab and lacks any cultural events 

* Vepsian identity deniedà in the soviet time a total ethnic niveliration was aimed and all natinally specific features denied, so Vepsian are not inclined until now to develop their culture publically

* Very rich world of folk arts is declining àapplied arts are still being used for home needs, but socially practiced ones are being ignored for hard life circumstances 

*”open air museums”à although almost all the villages have a traditional look it may change soon because of high price for natural wood materials

*Learning the written language à Vepsian functions for 95% as spoken language only; many native speakers would like to learn the written form as well but there is only few copies of learning books available in local libraries

* The last generation of “fairy -tales narratorsà is going away now. Without documenting the oral epic and poetic heritage will be lost for the mankind

1)    Turning club edifices into centers for revitalization of Vepsian culture.

2)     Looking for a  active Vepsian-minded person in every community to be hired as a club chief for organizing and carrying out folk festivals, traditional handicraft exhibi­tions, folklore parties etc. A little salary must be granted

3)    Sponsoring building traditions: the Vepsians who decide to build their new house in traditio­nal wood style may get discounts for material and transport

4)    For handicrafts see #4 in Economics

5)    Literal activity: Supplying adequate amounts of learning books to libraries to cover all dwellers needs; Editing and distribu­ting the regular Vepsian newspaper to subscribers; sponsoring Vepsian writers, poets and interpreters to give start for the Vepsian written literature

6)    Scientific research and archivation by collecting folklore items, recording speech patterns as much as possible for further use in learning centers, enlarging the digital image/video traditions databank of VS, possibly fullest coverage and archiving all of the quickly disappearing elements of traditional life style as well as of u­n­ique Finno-Ugric mentality


·         Economical infrastructure


Present situation à

à Resulting from previous

à Proposed Solution

It were state collective farms which provided formerly the 100% compulsory employment rate; in the post-soviet time they were eliminated as not profitable. The workers have lost their jobs and a minimal state compensation (equivalent to $3-4 a month) is not being paid for years;

While liquidating collective farms in some villages agri­cu­ltural equipment (tractors, machines etc) were sold partly to its former workers for use in their private households. There is no spare parts available and mostly very old equipment cannot be serviced or repaired any longer;

People feel being left alone in dense taiga forest with no public transport circulation to go to outer world, sometime  with no light at homes, no money to buy food, clothes or material or even to pay for transportation of heating wood.

Vepsians have to survive over eight snow months with average temperatures under – 30 C with self-produced food only.

A psychological problem: during the communist age all forms of private property were denied and more prosperous peasants punished (prisoned, exiled etc) so the current disoriented generation do not possess neither undertaking spirit nor owner habits required for enterprise activity. Generally people are inactive and desperate and would rather starve than go for enterprise risks.

Quitted villages: a large belt between Middle and Southern Vepsland due to communist anti-national politics which forced dwellers to leave their remote homes for bigger mixed-population settlements.A prevailing part of them have until now integrating problems on new places and would like to return to their native villages

* No salaries à even officially considered as employed hired workers are not payed for months, they have to survive over long winters with self-made plantage or forest products only which results in scarce nutrition and exhausting deseases. Everybody lacks clothes (specially childrens ones) as well as other puchased goods and facilities

* most population unemployed à with unemployment rating 60-90% and no benficiary money paid people are frustrated and deprived of future hopes; adictions to alkohol and suicides are growing up as a result;

* No self-employment possible à working in own houshold is extreme hard and is done with very primitive tools because pennyless landlords cannot afford even simplest engines or spare parts to repare old equipment

* handicrafts for own use only  à Folk masters possess precious traditional skills such as wood caving, processing birch skin for souvenirs etc, but they are not able make their living with it because of no access to market

* No return possible à Vepsians who were forced to emigrate cannot go back because there is no roads, electricity and other facilities in quitted villages; additionally to this all their houses need to be thoroughly repaired


1)    Material aid: supplying food products and clothes to unemployed families with children and especially to aged single women

2)    Establishing of self production for own needs: delivering spare parts or other equipment (as saws, pumps, stand-alone generators, forest activity equipment etc construc­tion materials) that meets individual needs in every village group. Helping out with starting own agricultural household production

3)    Small enterprises: industrial production for sale can not be regarded as a possible alternative in present Russian criminal circums­tan­ces: it would attract mafia to Vepsian areas with un-predictable sequences.

4)    Supporting the Vepsian farmer movement by working out special personal programs, focusing on revitalization the belt zone of quitted villages by sponsoring farmer  to re-settle in their native areas 

5)    Organizing a transportation of Vepsian traditional souvenirs to Russian and international markets. It will rescue many aged people from starving and enable invalid master to work at home 


·        Medical infrastructure


Present situation à

à Resulting from previous

à Proposed Solution

Lack of medical financing;

no village hospitals any longer; uselessness of local medical stations because of untrained staff and total lack of medicines;

In winter at the time of epidemics people are cut out from the rest of the world with no emergency help available

* No prophlactics and diagnostics à high quotes of preventable deseases and mortal cases 

* No remedies à numerous bad  complications by epidemic diseases (flu)

* No medical treatment at all à most of population cannot reach bigger medical centers due to no public traffic organized.

1)    Organizing local medical stations in centered settle­ments

2)    Hiring presently unemployment Vepsian medical personal to work on stations

3)    Supplying remedies and medical first-aid equipment

4)    Carrying out childrens prophilactic measures