Russian FSB raids homes of Tatar NGO's members in Tatarstan

News
Canan Kevser
05 March 2021, 17:14
Canan Kevser
05 March 2021, 17:14

Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers in Tatarstan raided the office of the All-Tatar Public Center (TIU), and the house of the NGO's chairman Farit Zakiyev, on early Thursday.

Zakiyev said that the Russian police and security officers in the Republic of Tatarstan have searched his home and summoned him for questioning in a case concerning the incitement of hatred.

Early on March 4, the police and FSB officers came to his apartment in Kazan and searched the premises, confiscating his and his wife's smartphones, according to Radio Liberty.

Zakiyev said he was informed that the case was launched regarding a 2019 event related to the annual commemoration of Tatars who died during the 1552 siege of the city by Russian troops.

"They ordered me to come for questioning to the Investigative Committee tomorrow at 2 p.m., but did not indicate in what capacity I was summoned. This is absolute lawlessness. It is strange that I am even implicated in the case to start with because the event in question was organized by private individuals, not by my organization," Zakiyev said.

The police also raided the homes of two other members of the Tatar NGO. Computers, tablets, books and documents associated with All-Tatar Public Center were seized during the searches.

Last month, Zakiyev held a hunger strike, protesting a motion by prosecutors to label his organization as an extremist and shut it down. A court decision on the prosecutors' motion is pending.

Background

TIU, which has been functioning since 1989, is known for activities promoting Tatar culture, language, and traditions, as well as equal rights for ethnic Tatars.

Some participants in the annual event in October 2019 were sentenced at the time to community work or fined for praying and reading the Koran and using words about "Tatarstan's statehood."

In October 1552, Russian Tsar Ivan IV, also known as 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 afterwards.