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Activist Who Pushed For Language Classes Banned From Bashkir Gathering

UFA, Russia -- A prominent activist in Russia's Urals region of Bashkortostan has been banned from attending the 4th Congress of the World's Bashkirs.

Fail Alsynov, the leader of the Bashqort organization, which promotes Bashkir language and culture as well as equal rights for ethnic Bashkirs, was not allowed to attend the opening session of the congress that kicked off in the regional capital, Ufa, on June 28.

Police forced Alsynov out of the congress hall, saying that the World's Congress of Bashkirs had excluded him from the participants' list this year.

The move shocked many in Bashkortostan, as Alsynov has been an active participant in previous gatherings.

Alsynov started facing problems after he and his organization staged several events in the last two years challenging Moscow's move to abolish mandatory indigenous-language classes in the regions with large populations of indigenous ethnic groups.

The move sparked 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.

Alsynov has said he plans to run in elections for regional leader in September.

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