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Outspoken Tatar Activist Fined For Speech She Says Was Translated Improperly


Fauzia Bairamova

NABEREZHNYE CHELNY, Russia -- Well-known Tatar writer and activist Fauzia Bairamova has been found guilty of a charge of calling for the violation of the Russian Federation's territorial integrity in a speech that she says was distorted because of translation errors.

A court in Tatarstan's second-largest city, Naberezhnye Chelny, on February 9 found Bairamova guilty of the charge and ordered her to pay a 30,000-ruble ($400) fine.

Bairamova pleaded not guilty, insisting that the translation of her speech from Tatar into Russian contained errors that distorted the essence of what she told a conference organized by the All-Tatar Public Center (TIU) almost a year ago.

In her speech, Bairamova quoted a poem by a prominent 20th century Tatar activist, Khadi Atlasi, that called for Tatars to have their own statehood.

Bairamova was fined 10,000 rubles previously for a speech she gave at an annual event in Tatarstan's capital on the day of Commemoration of Tatars fallen during the 1552 siege of Kazan by Russian troops. In that speech Bairamova called Tatarstan's leadership "a colonial administration" and said that Tatars "are losing their national identity."

In 2010, Bairamova was handed a 1 year suspended prison term on a charge of inciting ethnic hatred for her words, while in 2014, she received another 1 year suspended sentence for public statements condemning Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.

NGOs and activists in Russia's national republics and regions that are involved in promoting ethnic cultures, languages, and equal rights for indigenous ethnic groups have been under pressure in recent years.

Bairamova's trial was held less than a week after TIU Chairman Farit Zakiyev launched a hunger strike to protest a move by prosecutors to shut down his organization and label it as extremist.

In the neighboring Republic of Bashkortostan, a court banned a prominent group that had long promoted the Bashkir language and culture in May last year.

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