KAZAN, Tatarstan -- The Russian newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta" has accused the U.S. government of providing "trumps for Tatarstan in its game with [the Russian] federal government," RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.
The article mentions the most recent U.S.-Tatar contacts, such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit in October to Kazan, and notes a U.S. research center placing Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiyev on a list of the world's 500 most influential Muslims.
It claims that in the past year the United States has paid "more attention to Tatarstan than in the last decade combined."
The daily also points out that in December 2008 a "Tatar government-in-exile" was formed and led by former Soviet chemical weapons expert and whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov, who currently lives in the United States.
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" concludes that Washington's interest in Tatarstan and Tatar institutions increased noticeably after Russia recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia last year.