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Tatar Activists' Apartments, Offices Searched

Rafis Kashapov, head of the Chally Branch of Tatar Public Centre
Rafis Kashapov, head of the Chally Branch of Tatar Public Centre
CHALLY, Russia, -- Police have searched the apartments and office of leading Tatar activists in the city of Chally, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Rafis Kashapov, the leader of the NGO Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally, told RFE/RL on September 15 that police arrived at his apartment around 7 a.m. and told him they had a search warrant for his apartment and the TIU office.

He said one group of police started searching his apartment and later another took him to the TIU office and conducted a search there.

Kashapov said the police confiscated two computers and some documents related to TIU activities.

Police explained to Kashapov that the search warrant was issued on the grounds that the TIU had organized a mass gathering in April at which some participants made statements "igniting interethnic hatred."

Kashapov told RFE/RL that on April 30 his organization held a public rally in support of the use of the Tatar language in Tatarstan's secondary schools.

"We did not do anything wrong, we just expressed our thoughts regarding the situation faced by the Tatar language in the republic," Kashapov said.

On September 15 police also went to the apartment of Chally-based Tatar activist Zinnur Ahliullin.

Ahliullin said that the police confiscated his computer and some of his files.

The TIU campaigns to preserve Tatar national identity, language and culture. It also campaigns for Tatarstan's independence from Russia.

Kashapov told RFE/RL that the searches were probably connected with preparations for the Russian State Duma elections scheduled for December 4.

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