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Tatar Activist Calls For Boycott Of International Athletic Event In Kazan


Chemist and Tatar nationalist Vil Mirzayanov

Chemist and Tatar nationalist Vil Mirzayanov

KAZAN, Russia -- A prominent Tatar nationalist has called for a boycott of the international university sports competition Universiade due to be held in Tatarstan in 2013 because of the recent jailing of Tatar activists, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Vil Mirzayanov told RFE/RL from his home in the United States that the Universiade -- organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) -- should be boycotted on an international level as a response to "the illegal detention of Tatar youth activists in Kazan on December 10."

On that day hundreds of youth activists in Kazan protested alleged irregularities during parliamentary elections held in Russia on December 4. Kazan police later detained around 100 participants of the rallies, mostly students.

Mirzayanov, 75, also said that he sent his official statement calling for a boycott of the games in Kazan to different organizations in Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Germany, and other countries.

Mirzayanov compared Tatarstan, which is a Russian Federation entity, with North Korea, where international events like the Universiade cannot be held due to the absence of democratic norms and freedoms.

He added that he will be persistent in his campaign and will do everything possible to prevent the sporting event from being held in Tatarstan, which he said is "currently ruled by a colonial leadership."

Mirzayanov became known as a whistleblower scientist at a secret Russian chemical weapons laboratory when he wrote articles in 1991-92 that detailed Russia's development of new chemical agents.

He was arrested for revealing state secrets but later released following an international outcry.

Mirzayanov left Russia in 1996 and now lives in the United States. He has recently been actively involved in the Tatar independence movement.

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