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One of the 21 autonomous republics of Russia. It is also known as Mordvinia and Mordva, but the official style is now Mordovia. It lies in Europe, midway between Moscow and the Urals, with an area of 26 000 km2, and a population of about one million, a third of whom are Mordvins. The capital is Saransk.

The Mordvins speak two closely-related Finno-Ugrian dialects, Moksha and Erzya. The Cyrillic script was adopted in 1937. They were mentioned by the Gothic historian Jordanes in the sixth century, came under the Golden Horde in the thirteenth, then the Kazan khanate, before being taken into Russia in 1552. Mordovia became an autonomous territory within the USSR in 1930 and an ASSR in 1934.

With the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990 it elevated itself to full republic status, as did all the other ASSRs, but Mordovia being very conservative in politics uniquely kept its Soviet name, calling itself the Mordovian Soviet Socialist Republic. It is now the Republic of Mordovia; I can't ascertain when this change took place, but I think in 1995. The presidents in the post-Soviet period have been

Nikolay Biryukov 1991-1992
Vasily Guslyannikov 1992-1993
Nikolay Biryukov again 1993-1995
Nikolay Merkushkin 1995-

The present flag is a horizontal tricolor of red, white, and blue, with on the wider white stripe a stylized eight-pointed sun symbol resembling a Maltese cross. During the Soviet period it had the usual boring panoply of variations on the hammer and sickle, but its earliest flag was (slightly) noteworthy for including the text "Proletariat of all the world unite!" in Russian, Moksha, and Erzya: Vese mastonoï proletariitne purnadovo veis! and Sembe mastoion' proletariitne puru modamors! -- though I can't swear which Mordvin dialect is which.

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