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Russia's Ethnic Groups In Volga Region Celebrate Language Day

Events have been held across Tatarstan to mark Language Day.

Activists in Russia's Tatarstan and Mari El republics were celebrating the Tatar and Mari languages on April 26 as part of events marking Language Day.

In Tatarstan, Language Day coincides with the birthday of Gabdulla Tuqay, a prominent poet considered by Tatars as a classic poet of Tatar literature.

Tuqay's poem Oh, My Mother Tongue! has been used as a rallying cry by a Tatar movement against Russification.

But the day also is officially marked in Kazan and other cities with special Tatar language and culture events at kindergartens, schools, universities, and public places.

The Tatar language belongs to the Turkic linguistic group and is used by some 7 million people in the area and beyond.

In neighboring Mari El, Language Day coincides with the birthday of Prince Boltush -- the 16th century ruler of the Malmyzh princedom who led the Mari nation to battle against the forces of Russian Tsar Ivan The Terrible.

Events in the capital Yoshkar-Ola celebrating the Uralic Mari language and culture include a public awareness campaign called “I speak Mari!”

About 52 percent of Mari El's 700,000 residents are ethnic Mari.

On April 25, the Day of the Chuvash language was celebrated in the neighboring republic of Chuvashia.

More than 1 million people in Russia's Volga region speak Chuvash, which is a Turkic language.