Tatars in Russia worry that Russia is heading towards strictly nationalistic agenda and that the Church is heading the way.
August 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Civic leaders in Tatarstan are criticizing a top Russian Orthodox Church official for suggesting that all citizens of Russia should be referred to using a word that traditionally describes only ethnic Russians.
In an interview with "Radio Mayak" on August 22, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who oversees external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, said the term "rossiyanin" -- which refers to Russian citizens but not necessarily to ethnic Russians -- was "artificial."
Instead, Kirill said all Russian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, should be referred to as "russky."
Rinat Nabiullin, deputy chairman of the World Congress of Tatars, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service today that the comments are part of a troubling trend.
"Father Kirill's statement is quite a dangerous," Nabiullin said. "I can't imagine that he would have made it without consulting [with higher church authorities]. It shows that a new phase of a rather dangerous policy is starting to be implemented now. If it continues, it will be very scary."
Likewise, Yunis Kamaletdinov, leader of the Tatar Public Center, said the comment reflects growing nationalist sentiment among ethnic Russians.
"This idea is similar to a very popular one in Russia now: Russia only for Russians," Kamaletdinov said. "Every nation in Russia -- Tatars, Chuvash, Mordvas, Chechens, peoples of Daghestan -- has the right to live its own life, to develop its culture. Metropolitan Kirill seems to speak about sweeping those cultures away and substituting them with only Russian culture."
According to 2002 census, ethnic Russians account for approximately 80 percent of Russia's population. With nearly 4 percent of the population, Tatars make up the second-largest ethnic group.
(Be sure to read the interesting story on the same above link,"SOURCE" the story on the right of the page relating to Russian will have a Muslim majority very soon- "In our lifetime".)
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