KAZAN, Russia -- Police have detained two activists in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan and ordered them not to mark the day of Commemoration of Tatars who died during the 1552 siege of Kazan by Russian troops, an annual event that city officials have banned for the first time since 1989.
The chairman of the All-Tatar Public Center, Farit Zakiyev, and the leader of the Azatlyk (Liberty) Tatar Youth Association, Nail Nabiullin, were detained on October 15 before being officially warned by police of possible repercussions if they hold 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 cancelled 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." Initially, the city administration had agreed to allow the All-Tatar Public Center to hold the annual event, known as Commemoration Day, in Kazan's Tinchurin park on October 18. 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 to commemorate Kazan defenders during the week.
The decision not to allow public events to mark the day comes amid a move by Russian federal authorities to limit the study of indigenous languages in the country's so-called ethnic republics, 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 afterward.