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Activists In Tatarstan Allowed To Mark 469th Anniversary Of Kazan's Fall, But No March


Commemoration Day in Kazan in 2019.
Commemoration Day in Kazan in 2019.

KAZAN, Russia -- Authorities in Kazan have allowed activists to gather in the capital of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan next week for a public event commemorating the 1552 siege of Kazan by Russian troops -- but only if they remain inside a park.

"It is a cruel joke, a mockery. The city administration just mocked the whole Tatar people," the chairman of the All-Tatar Public Center, Farit Zakiyev, told RFE/RL on October 5.

Zakiyev said earlier that he had filed a request with the city administration asking permission to organize a march from Liberty Square to the Kazan Kremlin on October 15 to mark the 469th anniversary of the fall of the then-capital of the Kazan Khanate.

The event has been marked in the city since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Kazan authorities have been reluctant to allow activists to hold such public commemorations in recent years.

Zakiyev said the authorities agreed that the activists will hold the commemoration in Tinchurin Park, which is located close to the city center.

Last year, the local administration initially allowed a public event to mark what is known as Commemoration Day, but that permission was later withdrawn, triggering protests in Kazan.

The move came after a local prosecutor requested that the commemoration not be allowed, saying that "the goal of the event was unclear."

Several participants in the 2019 commemoration were sentenced to community work or fined for praying and reading the Koran at the gathering and using the words "Tatarstan's statehood."

In October 1552, Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan after a two-week resistance. Many of the Khanate's Muslim population were killed after the siege or forcibly Christianized.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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