The Research Unit was established in 1993. However, the operations of the Research Unit had already begun in the year preceding its establishment. The first director of the Research Unit until 1996 was Professor Emeritus Alho Alhoniemi (in the picture on an expedition in Mordovia). 

Initially, the Research Unit’s field of research covered only the Mordvinic languages and Mari. Its field of activity was gradually expanded to include the Udmurt language and the Turkic languages of the Volga region. In addition, the Komi language, which is closely related to Udmurt, is the subject of some projects. 

The activities of the Research Unit between the years 1993 and 2013 are described in more detail in Jorma Luutonen’s article “Volgan alueen kielten tutkimusyksikkö 20 vuotta”, Sananjalka 55 (2013), pp. 233–245 (available only in Finnish).