Friday, October 3, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Volga Tatar Activist’s Conviction Echoes in Russia and Ukraine

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 3 – The conviction of Fauziya Bayramova, president of the Volga Tatar Milli Mejlis and a longtime activist for the Tatar nation, for her support of the Crimean Tatars as well as her suspended one-year sentence is attracting widespread attention in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine.


            Yesterday, a city court in Naberezhny Chelny found Bayramova, 64, guilty of inciting ethnic and religious hatred for her Facebook postings in February 2014 in defense of the Crimean Tatars and sentenced her to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended on good behavior.


            That she got positive coverage from her fellow Tatar nationalists is no surprise, but the Kazan evening paper gave her remarkably upbeat coverage yesterday in an article entitled “’The Grandmother of Tatar Sovereignty’ Again Receives a Sentence of One Year Conditionally” (


            The paper quoted her saying that her article expressed the view that “Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians should be together and had not denigrated citizens of Russian nationality because there was no mention about the Russian people in this essay.” Under questioning, Bayramova said she “considers her position correct to this day.”


            And she posted her final statement to the court, which included many portions of the article for which she was convicted, on Facebook.  It merits more extension quotation (


            In Tatarstan, the activist said, “every day Muslims are arrested, searched, persecuted, put in jail, and beaten … And all these evil deeds are committed in the name of the government and carried out by government organs – the police, the FSB, investigators, procurators, and judges … The leadership of Tatarstan either closes its eyes to this or supports this.”


            “As a result, the people remain indifferent to the fate of these oppressed Muslims and does not stand up in their defense. Only a few human rights activists report to the entire world about the evil deeds committed against Muslims … For these lines [alone], I am being accused of undermining state structures,” Bayramova said.


For more than 20 years, Bayramova has been speaking out about the rights of Tatars and Muslims, and she has gained increasing attention as others have confirmed that what she has been saying is true.  But this case has brought her more attention than ever before not only in the Russian Federation but in Ukraine as well.


Her trial received extensive coverage in the Tatar media, in the human rights community ( and, and what is perhaps most important in the mainstream news agencies (  As a result, the case is backfiring on the Russian authorities.


            But equally important, Bayramova’s case has attracted the attention and support of the Crimean Tatars.  On his Facebook page today, Refat Chubarov, the president of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, praised her for her courage and her unwavering support for the rights of the Tatars and other Turkic peoples of Russia (


            Chubarov said that Bayramova’s actions are “a clear example for all who defend the right of their peoples to self-determination and free development,” adding that history shows that such strivings for freedom “always end with the acquisition” of that freedom whatever the powers of states do to try to prevent it.


            “Tatarstan and the fraternal Tatar people, which have a centuries-long history of national statehood thanks to the self-sacrifice of Tatar patriots [like Bayramova] undoubtedly will occupy a worthy place among other free peoples,” Chubarov said.


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