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Volga-Ural Region

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CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS LATIN SCRIPT FOR TATAR LANGUAGE. The Constitutional Court rejected on 16 November a suit by Tatarstan's parliament seeking to replace the use of the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet for the Tatar language, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 2004). The court ruled that only federal-level legislators have the right to decide such linguistic matters, and that by introducing its own linguistic reform without special permission from federal legislative bodies, Tatarstan risked threatening the linguistic integrity of the Russian Federation. Following the decision, Tatar President Mintimir Shaimiev said that he does not consider the question closed. "I would say that yesterday's decision by the Constitutional Court does not deprive Russian Federation subjects of the right to consider this issue -- it can be resolved through the adoption of a federal law," RIA-Novosti quoted him as saying on 17 November. Tatar parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin told reporters that the republic is not planning on removing street signs in Latin script because "there is a similar situation in Moscow, where I saw several buildings and restaurants [bearing signs] with Latin script." RFE/RL Newsline

Census Shows Shifts in National Identity Within Russia / ITAR-TASS
Moscow, 10 November 2003: Russia's national composition has changed in the past 13 years. According to the results of the national census there are now about 160 nationalities within the country - 24 more than were reflected in the previous census, held in Soviet times in 1989. As before, most of the people within Russia regard themselves as ethnic Russians (80 per cent or 116m), and also as before the second most numerous nationality are the Tatars (5,560,000). Other nationalities exceeding 1m
are the Ukrainians (2,940,000), Bashkirs (1,670,000) and Chuvash, Chechens and Armenians. A further 23 nationalities have a numerical strength of over 400,000, including Mordovians, Belarusians, Kazakhs, Udmurts, Russian Germans and Ossetians. Azeris and Tajiks have gained in number from migration.

TATARSTAN BEGINS DROPPING CYRILLIC ALPHABET. Schools in Tatarstan will now use the Latin script, rather than the Cyrillic one, for written work in the national language, a local official told AP on 1 September. That step is part of a 10-year program to end the use of a Russian-related alphabet and replace it with one that more adequately reflects the sound patterns of Tatar. Moreover, the local official added, the new script will make European culture more accessible to the students. RFE/RL Newsline 2000

70% of citizens of Bashkortostan support Sovereignty of their republic! from Sh. Abdullin

Institute for Social Economic Researches (Russian Academy of Science's Ufa Science Center) reports recent poll results in Bashkortstan. 1048 citizens of Republic was asked:

Do you think that the declaration of sovereignty of Bashkortostant help in stabilization and solved enthnic problems in the Republic? 70% - answered yes, 12% - answered no, 13% - no opinion

How do you evaluate the current political and public situation in the Republic of Bashkortostan?

73% - positive, 14% - negative

Does the Republic of Bashkortostan as a sovereign state within Russian Federation must have (special) higher status (then average russian region)? 55% - answered yes, 22-23% - no opinion

MONUMENT URGED FOR THOSE WHO WENT FROM HITLER'S PRISONS TO STALIN'S CAMPS. Aleksandr Yakovlev, the head of the presidential commission for the rehabilitation of the politically repressed, said on 22 June that Russia ought to build a special memorial to those 1.5 million Soviet soldiers who were captured by the Germans and then were sent immediately to the gulag upon their return home, Interfax reported. Yakovlev called the transfer from one set of prisons to another "one of the cruelest crimes of the Stalinist regime."

1.5 MILLION SOVIET SOLDIERS WENT FROM NAZI PRISONS TO SOVIET GULAG. Aleksandr Yakovlev, the chairman of the presidential commission for the rehabilitation of victims of political repressions, told Interfax on 8 May that 1.5 million Soviet soldiers captured by the Germans during World War II were sent directly to the Stalinist Gulag camps upon their release at the end of that conflict. Yakovlev said that fears by soldiers and officers that this would happen had prompted 180,000 Soviet POWs to choose to remain in the West rather than return to their homeland. Yakovlev also called for the erection in Moscow's Lubyanka Square of a memorial to the victims of Stalinist repressions in the former USSR, Interfax reported. RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 5, No. 120, Part I, 25 June 2001

PUTIN'S REMARKS ON SLAVIC VICTORY COMPARED TO STALIN'S 1945 TOAST. Writing in "The St. Petersburg Times" on 9 May, Yevgeniya Albats discussed President Putin's suggestion last week that the Soviet victory in World War II was "the victory of Slavic peoples." Such a remark not only minimizes the contribution of all other Soviet peoples to the war effort, she said, but recalls the words of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in his 1945 toast to the Great Russian people, whom he described as "the most outstanding nation of all the nations comprising the Soviet Union." Albats, whose Jewish father became an invalid after fighting in World War II, concluded that in 1991 the Soviet Union, as a party state, "proved once again that the idea of ethnic supremacy is self-destructive. It seems," she said, that "our new president, inaugurated on [7 May], did not study his history lessons well enough." RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 4, No. 91, Part I, 11 May 2000

MORDVINS AGAIN PROTEST LINGUISTIC, CULTURAL DISCRIMINATION. The Erzya, the larger of the two related groups that comprise the Mordvin people, have addressed an appeal to participants of last week's 10th Finno-Ugric Congress held in Yoshkar-Ola, according to a 25 August press release from the Tallinn-based info center of Finno-Ugric peoples. The appeal deplores what it terms "misleading Russian press coverage" that seeks to create the impression that there are no obstacles to the study or survival of the languages and cultures of Russia's Finno-Ugric minorities. On the contrary, the appeal reads, the Erzya and related Moksha languages and history of those two groups are no longer taught in urban schools in Mordovia, while rural schools are being shut down. The appeal notes that the number of Mordvins in Russia has fallen over the past decade by over 300,000, and it accuses the Russian authorities of implementing a "genocide" of the Mordvin people (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 20 October 1999). RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 9, No. 161, Part I, 25 August 2005

MARIS THREATENED WITH LEGAL PROCEEDINGS FOR STAGING PROTEST RALLY. The authorities of Marii El Republic have threatened to bring charges against the leaders of the ethnic Mari organization Marii Ushem, who defied municipal authorities and staged a demonstration in Yoshkar-Ola on 14 August on the eve of the 10th International Congress of Finno-Ugric Studies, according to a 17 August press release from the Tallinn-based Information Center of Finno-Ugric Peoples (ICFUP). The Maris are a Finno-Ugric people who at the time of the 1989 Soviet census numbered some 670,000, of whom some 43 percent lived in their titular republic. Demonstration participants reportedly bore placards proclaiming "Our President is Putin, not [Marii El President Leonid] Markelov," and "1937 Again?" an allusion to the Stalin purges. They also protested alleged violations by the republic's leaders of their human and ethnic rights (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 2 June 2005). Numerous prominent international scholars from Finland, Hungary, and Estonia chose not to attend the Finno-Ugric congress as a gesture of solidarity with the Mari people, according to a 16 August ICFUP press release. Participants at the opening session of the congress on 15 August observed one minute's silence to honor congress President Yurii Anduganov, who was killed last month in a car accident in circumstances that remain unclear (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 2005).

UDMURTS DEMAND NATIVE-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS FOR THEIR CHILDREN. Meanwhile, parents in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia Republic, have written to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to protest what they term the local authorities' refusal to provide education for their children in Udmurt, a Finno-Ugric language, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 August. There were 714,800 Udmurts in Russia at the time of the 1989 Soviet census, of whom 70 percent lived in Udmurtia. The Izhevsk authorities have made available a school building on the city outskirts to accommodate 1,200 Udmurt pupils, but parents protest that it is inaccessible. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov as having told a representative of the republic's Tatar minority that he does not considerable it appropriate to create "national reservations" within the republic's education system, meaning schools in which teaching is conducted in languages other than Russian. LF


CONFEDERATION. A conference of representatives of 10

regions in the Volga basin and Urals inhabited by Turkic

or Finno-Ugric peoples took place in Ioshkar-Ola,

capital of Mari El, on 24 April, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau

reported. Participants expressed their unanimous support

for the proposal by the moderate nationalist Tatar

Public Center to create a confederation of Turkic and

Finno-Ugric peoples of the region with its own

parliament. They also agreed to hold conferences in

August and October 2000 of teachers and journalists

respectively, and to create an Idel-Ural Fund which will

sponsor a newspaper that will report on events in the

region. Rais Kashapov, who heads the Chally branch of

the Tatar Public Center, told RFE/RL that conference

participants expressed concern that since Vladimir

Putin's appointment as acting Russian President Russian

internal security bodies have intensified their

surveillance of organizations that represent ethnic

minorities. RFE/RL Russian Federation Report, 26.04.2000

Freedom is very constrained in Russia. Opposition movements are restricted in their work. Once whole Russia becomes silent, it will take a very long time to restore democracy in Russia, if ever.

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