Russian court to rule on Tatar cultural group “extremist” designation

Photo: Roman Kruchinin/ Reuters

A Russian court will rule today on whether the All-Tatar Public Center (TIU) will be considered an extremist group.

Tatars form the second-largest ethnic group in Russia and live predominantly in the Republic of Tatarstan, located approximately 800 kilometres east of Moscow. TIU is a Kazan-based organisation that promotes Tatar culture, language and ethnic identity. The group has previously expressed alarm at the treatment of Tatars in Crimea and protested central government policies that suppress ethnic identity expression, such as the abolition of mandatory indigenous language classes.

Today’s trial is a foregone conclusion, with the likely effect of silencing the Tatar minority and allowing Moscow to exert more direct control over Tatarstan. Expect TIU leaders to be banned from government office and imprisoned if protests continue. The trial bodes ill for long-term human rights in Russia, opening the door for further crackdowns on ethnic minorities, nationalists and political dissidents.

President Vladimir Putin’s two-decade government has cracked down on minorities throughout Russia, fearing the groups’ potential to threaten Russia’s national unity and internal security. There will likely be little to no international response to today’s ruling, given the inaction to similar steps taken against Bashqort activists in May 2020.

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