The 3-meter-high monument to Soyembike was officially unveiled on June 10 in the town of Kasimov in the Ryazan region.
KASIMOV, Russia -- Despite numerous protests by Orthodox activists and organizations, the first monument to Soyembike, the woman who ruled the Khanate of Kazan in the 16th century, has been unveiled in Russia.
The 3-meter-high monument was officially unveiled on June 10 in the town of Kasimov in the Ryazan region, some 250 kilometers southeast of Moscow. Soyembike is believed to have been buried in 1577 in Kasimov, the capital of the Khanate. The unveiling of the monument coincided with the 1,100th anniversary of the acceptance of Islam as a state religion by Volga Bulgaria, a state that existed between the 7th and 13th centuries in what is now the Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation.
Deputy Prime Minister of Tatarstan Vasil Shaikhraziyev took part in the ceremony along with Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of Russia's Spiritual Directorate of Muslims; Anna Roslyakova, the deputy prime minister of the Ryazan region; Tatar intellectuals; and Muslim leaders. Many Russian ultranationalist groups have protested against the monument for some time. A group of leaders and activists of several Orthodox organizations wrote an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, urging him to block the plan to raise the monument, calling Soyembike "a separatist" and comparing her with Hitler and Stepan Bandera, the leader of Ukrainian nationalists in the 1940s and 1950s. Tatar intellectuals and activists tried for years to raise a monument to Soyembike in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, but Russia's federal authorities never approved the plan. In the end, the monument was erected in Kasimov, which is outside of Tatarstan.
Russian authorities have been cautious about any events related to Tatar history, which very often stir up old controversies about the conquest of the Khanate by Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1552. Many of the Khanate's Muslim inhabitants were killed or forcibly Christianized afterward.