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Tatar Newspaper Editor, Nationalist Leader On Trial

Newspaper editor Damir Shaykhetdinov
Newspaper editor Damir Shaykhetdinov
CHALLY, Tatarstan -- A Tatar opposition newspaper editor accused of propagating extremist views has gone on trial in Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Damir Shaykhetdinov, the editor in chief of the "Chally Yashlary" newspaper, is accused of printing a schedule of events for the self-proclaimed pan-Tatar National Assembly (TMM) in his newspaper. His trial opened on November 18 in the town of Chally.

Tatarstan's Justice Ministry ruled last week that the activities of the TMM, which was established by Tatar nationalists in 1992, should be suspended for four months.

In an open letter issued last December, the TMM called on the international community to recognize Tatarstan's independence from Russia. The call came just a few months after Russia recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The TMM's chairwoman, Fauzia Bayramova, told RFE/RL that she was also subpoened to appear in court in a separate case on November 19.

Bayramova -- who said last week that she can no longer live in Russia because of severe persecution from authorities, and is seeking to emigrate -- is charged with igniting interethnic hatred in Tatarstan.

She says Tatar officials are helping Russian Federal authorities "persecute Tatar patriots in the republic."