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The Vepsian Culture Society in Karelia celebrates its 15th anniversary

PETROZAVODSK, December 8. /Correspondent of SPB-TASS Yuri Shleikin/. Songs, verses and greetings in Vepsian sounded today at the celebration in Petrozavodsk devoted to the 15 anniversary of the Vepsian Culture Society of the republic.

As of the head of the Society, the famous in Karelia scientist and public figure Zinaida Strogalshchikova has told the SPB -TASS correspondent, "15 years agoit was almost impossible to imagine somebody saying: "I am Vepsian and I'm proud of that". The Vepsian people had no written language, and accordingly neither books, nor newspapers. There were little people who trusted that it would be possible to preserve the Vepsians' culture about 5 thousand representatives of whom lives in Karelia and in the neighbouring Leningrad region. It is possible to consider publishing the Karelian-Finnish epos Kalevala in Vepsian a vivid example of successes of the Society. It was handed to Vladimir Putin this year in Salekhard, the land of Nenets people related to Vepsians.

Within the past 15 years, on Zinaida Strogalshchikova's words, a few dozens of books in Vepsian were published. The most important among them is manuals for children of preschool age and up to the 9th form. About 350 children learn their native language at five national schools. In two Petrozavodsk high schools Vepsian language teachers and tutors are trained. About ten students representatives of Vepsian people study in Norway, Estonia, and Hungary. The newspaper in Vepsian language is issued in Petrozavodsk. The national costumes have been revived, folklore ensembles have been created. "Certainly, we face some problems as well, but nevertheless the Vepsian culture has been preserved and this is the main point," the head of the Society has told.

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