Russian Court Bans Prominent Group Promoting Ethnic Bashkir Rights

UFA, Russia -- The Supreme Court of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan has banned the Bashqort group, which for years has promoted the Bashkir language and culture as well as equal rights for ethnic Bashkirs.

The court on May 22 labeled the group extremist and banned its operations based on what it called the "presence in the organization of individuals who had been convicted on extremism charges."

The group's leader, Fail Alsynov, said earlier that extremism charges against members of his organization were often politically motivated.

The group's lawyers said they will appeal the ruling, which they believe will "have a negative effect on all national and ethnic movements of Bashkirs and civil rights activists in the Republic of Bashkortostan."

Bashqort has faced pressure in recent years after staging several rallies and other events challenging the policies of both local and federal authorities, including Moscow's move to abolish mandatory indigenous-language classes in the regions with large populations of indigenous ethnic groups.

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