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Tatarstan Court Rules It Was Illegal To Ban Commemoration Of Kazan's Fall

People pray at an event for the Commemoration of Tatars in Kazan. (file photo)
People pray at an event for the Commemoration of Tatars in Kazan. (file photo)

KAZAN, Russia -- A court in the capital of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, Kazan, has ruled that it was illegal for the city administration not to allow the annual commemoration of Tatars who died during the 1552 siege of Kazan by Russian troops, an annual event that municipal officials have banned for the first time since 1989.

The chairman of the All-Tatar Public Center, Farit Zakiyev, told RFE/RL that the Vakhitov district court ruling on October 16 will allow his organization to hold the annual event, known as Commemoration Day, in Kazan's Tinchurin park on October 18 as initially planned.

A day earlier, police detained Zakiyev and the leader of the Azatlyk (Liberty) Tatar Youth Association, Nail Nabiullin, and brought them to a police station, where the activists were officially warned of possible repercussions if they held unsanctioned events to commemorate the 468th anniversary of the fall of Kazan -- once the capital of the Kazan Khanate, which is now the capital of modern Tatarstan within the Russian Federation.

Last weekend, the Kazan city administration canceled its initial permission to hold a public event to mark the day, saying the decision came at the request of the local prosecutor who said that "the goal of the event was unclear."

Since the permit was annulled, Tatar activists have held several small gatherings and collective prayers commemorating the Kazan defenders in Tatarstan's capital.

The activists have said they are looking to organize more events to commemorate Kazan defenders during the week.

The decision not to allow public events to mark the day came amid a move by Russian federal authorities to limit the study of indigenous languages in the country's so-called ethnic republics and regions, which started in 2017.

Some participants in last year's commemoration of Kazan defenders were sentenced to community work or fined for praying and reading the Koran at the event and using words about "Tatarstan's statehood."

In October 1552, Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered the Khanate of Kazan after two weeks of 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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