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Activists Protest Discontinuation Of Tatar-Language TV Programs

CHALLY -- Activists in Tatarstan's second-largest city, Chally, are protesting the closure of four programs in Tatar on a local television channel, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Talgat Akhmadshin, a former leader of the organization Tatar Youth, told RFE/RL that "taking the programs off air in the year of the national census is an anti-Tatar policy."

Askhadulla Sadykov, Khaidar Nizamov, Farit Kamalov, and Amirsha Bakirov, members of the congregation of Chally's Ikhlas Mosque, told RFE/RL that the religious program "Kybla," which is in Tatar, has not been broadcast for at least two weeks.

Chally TV station Director Rakhman Shafigullin told RFE/RL that the programs in Tatar have been temporarily suspended during the summer vacation. He said all the programs will resume in September.

Tatar activists have expressed their doubts, however. They say it is very likely that the programs will be either reduced, or that some of them will be abolished. They point out that there were no advance announcements or explanations regarding the suspension of the programs.