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29 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in ceremonies marking the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Kazan by delivering a speech in Tatar, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported.
"In Kazan," Putin said on 26 August, "one can see all the advantages of Russia's statehood -- its ancient history and its multiethnic and multiconfessional nature. Kazan has played a unique role in the formation of a united people of Russia."
Putin's efforts at speaking Tatar were greeted enthusiastically, and he translated some portions of his speech into Russian "for those of you who have only begun studying Tatar and didn't understand everything."
Putin's speech was attended by the presidents of several countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), members of Russia's State Council, and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev and many other regional leaders of Russia.
Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva told journalists that Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told republican cabinet ministers on 28 August that "since even President Putin speaks Tatar, you all must study and speak Tatar."