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Bashkir Television Head Reaches Out To Local Tatar Groups


media outlets in Bashkortostan have recently begun questioning the ethnicity of the new president, Rustem Khamitov.

media outlets in Bashkortostan have recently begun questioning the ethnicity of the new president, Rustem Khamitov.

UFA, Russia -- The head of Bashkortostan's state television has held talks with leading Tatars to discuss how the station can better serve their community, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

The meeting on September 6 was the first-ever between Bashkortostan television General Director Guzel Ibrahimova and Tatar community leaders in the Russian republic.

The deputy head of the Ufa-based Tatar Ethnic and Cultural Center, Mazhit Khuzhin, told RFE/RL that expanding Tatar-language programming, increasing the number of reports about Tatar communities in Bashkortostan, and recognizing Tatar settlements in Bashkortostan as Tatar instead of Bashkir, were discussed at the meeting.

Khuzhin added that such meetings will be held on a regular basis.

Ibrahimova was appointed general director of Bashkortostan's state television company last month after President Rustem Khamitov replaced longtime Bashkir leader Murtaza Rakhimov in July.

The Tatar community in Bashkortostan has complained of being forcibly assimilated since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ethnic Tatars officially make up about 25 percent of Bashkortostan's population of more than 4 million people, but Tatar activists claim they make up a larger portion than that.

Meanwhile, media outlets in Bashkortostan have recently begun questioning the ethnicity of the new president, Khamitov.

The journalufa.com website reported on September 2 that while a deputy in Bashkortostan's parliament from 1990-93, Khamitov wrote on all official forms that he was an ethnic Tatar.

But in an interview with "Vechernyaya Ufa" last month, Khamitov stated that he was an ethnic Bashkir and there should be no further discussions on the matter.
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