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Russia Rejects Tatarstan's Bid To Oust Cyrillic

Moscow, 16 November 2004 -- Russia's Constitutional Court today rejected Tatarstan's bid to officially use the Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic for the Tatar language.

The bid was launched by Tatarstan's Supreme Court, challenging a 2002 Russian law saying all official languages must use Cyrillic.

The chairman of the Tatar parliament's commission for science, culture and education, Razil Valiyev, today told RFE/RL by phone from Istanbul, Turkey, that Tatar officials will appeal the decision.

"This political decision of the court does not surprise us. But we should not stop at that. The only way that remains for us is to appeal [the court's decision] to international organizations, particularly the [European] Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. There is no other way."

Proponents of the switch say Latin is more suited than Cyrillic for transliterating the language's sounds. Opponents say such a switch would split the community, and would complicate teaching and printing literature.

(RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service/AP)