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Defiant Kazan School Director Fined Over Mandatory Tatar Classes

avel Shmakov, the director of a private school in Russia's Tatarstan region. (file photo)

KAZAN, Russia -- The director of a private school in Russia's Tatarstan region has been fined for refusing to drop mandatory Tatar-language classes.

Pavel Shmakov wrote on Facebook on March 13 that a court in Kazan fined him 25,000 rubles ($440) the previous day.

According to Shmakov, he was fined 10,000 rubles ($176) for "teaching Tatar on the same level as Russian" and 15,000 rubles ($264) for the "temporary absence of a cafeteria and a gym" at the school.

Shmakov vowed to appeal and wrote that he expects more problems over his refusal to drop mandatory Tatar classes.

Shmakov has been fighting for months against efforts by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office to check whether children across Tatarstan are being forced to learn the Tatar language.

The court cases come amid tension over language classes in Russia's so-called "ethnic" regions, where indigenous, non-Russian ethnic groups are well represented.

President Vladimir Putin said in July 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.

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

Shmakov has vowed not to drop mandatory Tatar classes in his school.

Shmakov's Facebook message came on the day of the 80th anniversary of the Stalin-era decree on introduction of mandatory study of Russian in the all ethnic republics and regions of the Soviet Union.