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Tatarstan Prosecutors Reject Complaint Alleging Language Discrimination


Almaz Imamov, an ethnic Tatar, says his complaint was about general services provided by Sberbank and the tax authorities -- not special cases.

NIZHNEKAMSK, Russia -- Authorities in Russia's Tatarstan region have rejected a complaint from a local man who says regional tax officials and a state-owned bank are providing services in Russian only, not in the Tatar language.

Almaz Imamov, an ethnic Tatar, complained that his rights have been violated because he is unable to receive services in his native language, which is an official language in Tatarstan according to the region's constitution.

The prosecutor's office in the city of Nizhnekamsk, in a written response to Imamov's complaint dated March 21, says that although both Russian and Tatar are official languages in Tatarstan, state bodies are not obliged to have their websites in Tatar.

"If citizens do not [understand] Russian, they have a right to [communicate with] official bodies in Tatar," the city prosecutor’s answer says.

But Imamov says his complaint was about general services provided by Sberbank and the tax authorities -- not special cases.

In recent months, the language issue has been a subject of controversy 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.

That led to abolishing mandatory indigenous language classes in the regions.

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

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