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Bashkortostan Supreme Court Cancels Bashkir Activist's Fine

Bashkir activist Fail Alsynov (file photo)
Bashkir activist Fail Alsynov (file photo)

UFA, Russia -- In a rare move, the Supreme Court in Russia's Republic of Bashkortostan has cancelled a lower court's decision to fine a prominent local activist Fail Alsynov.

Alsynov is the leader of the Bashqort organization, which promotes Bashkir language and culture, as well as equal rights for ethnic Bashkirs.

He called the Supreme Court's decision on December 10 "a victory."

Last month, a court in the Bashkir capital, Ufa, ordered him to pay 150,000 rubles ($2,300) for organizing an unsanctioned public gathering in late September in the village of Temas, where local residents clashed with seasonal workers from the Chechnya region. Alsynov appealed the court's ruling.

He demanded the trial be held in his native Bashkir language, saying that his Russian is not good enough.

All Alsynov's statements and speeches at the public gathering in question were in Bashkir, not Russian.

Tensions over languages have increased in the past year or so in Russian regions with large populations of indigenous ethnic groups.

President Vladimir Putin said in July 2017 that children in these regions must not be forced to learn languages that are not their mother tongues, and ordered prosecutors to determine whether that was taking place.

That led to moves by officials to abolish mandatory indigenous-language classes in the regions.

The move caused an outcry in Bashkortostan and other regions where local languages have official status alongside Russian.

About one-third of Bashkortostan’s 4 million residents are Bashkir, while 39 percent are ethnic Russians and 25 percent are Tatars.

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