Tatarstan activists allowed to mark 469th anniversary of fall of Kazan, but no march

KAZAN, Russia — Authorities in Kazan having authorized activists to gather in the capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan next week for a public event commemorating the siege of Kazan in 1552 by Russian troops – but only if they stay inside a park.

“This is a cruel joke, a mockery. The city administration has just made fun of all the Tatar people,” All-Tatar public center chairman Farit Zakiyev told RFE/RL on October 5.

Zakiyev said earlier that he had filed an application with the city administration asking for permission to hold a march from Freedom Square to the Kazan Kremlin on October 15 to mark the 469th anniversary of the fall. from the capital of the Kazan Khanate.

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

Zakiyev said authorities had agreed that activists would hold the commemoration in Tinchurin Park, located near the city center.

Last year, the local administration initially authorized a public event to mark the so-called Commemoration Day, but that authorization was later withdrawn, sparking protests in Kazan.

The move came after a local prosecutor asked that the commemoration not be allowed, saying “the purpose of the event was unclear”.

Several participants in the 2019 commemoration were sentenced to community service or fined for praying and reading the Quran at the rally and using the words “State of Tatarstan”.

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

Rose D. Jones