[tatar-l] The Volga Tatar Community of St. Petersburg
- The Volga Tatar Community of St. Petersburg.
The city of St. Petersuburg has one of the largest urban Tatar communities in
Russia. The streets and buildings of St. Petersuburg have many historical
associations with the local Tatar diaspora. In the 18th century, Peter the
Great brought many government-owned serfs to the site of the present city to
start buidling a new capital for Russia, intended to become its "window to
Europe." Many of these serfs wereTatars. Most of them died of hard work,
exhaustion, starvation, or disease. Figuratively speaking, St. Petersburg is
founded on Tatar sweat. blood, and bones.
One place particularly associated with the local Tatar community is a modest
buidling located at 22 Moika St. where, at the beginning of the 20th century,
the Tatar newspaper Noor was published. At different times, this building was
visited by such prominent Tatar cultural and public figures as Gabdula Tukai,
Gayaz Iskhaki, Sadri Maksudi, and others. Last year, local Tatars decided to
revive the newspaper under its original name. After a few issues, however,
the paper was closed for lack of funds. During a meeting with representatives
of the Second World Tatar Congress in 1997, the governor of St. Petersburg,
Vladimir Yakovlev, prommised to allocate money for the newspaper in 1999. It
is yet unclear whether he has kept his promise.
Mr. Yakovlev made a second significant proomise to the Tatar communtity: He
also promised to assist with the reconstruction of the St. Petersubrg mosque,
one of the biggest in Eastern Europe. For those visiting St. Petersburg, the
mosque is located at Kronversky Prospekt, 7. Metro station Gorkovskaya. Upon
exiting the metro walk towards the river. Daily servidees are between 10 am
and 7 p.m. The phone number is 7 (812) 233 98 19.
So far, the Tatar communty of St. Petersburg does not have its own cultural
center or a Tatar school. The chairman of the Tatar organization, Salim
Hasanov, hopes that the future center will be located in a building that
currently serves as the movie theatre Red Oktober. The building is located in
the part of the city that used to be known as the Tatar neighborhood. In the
meantime, the offical representation of Tatarstan in St. Petersburg is being
regularly used as a venue for some cultural events. (The address is: 7/9
Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, 191186 Russia. Chief of office: Shamil
Akhmetshin. Tel.: 7 (812) 314 - 11 - 86 Fax: 7 (812) 312 - 97 - 77 )
Tatar life St. Petersburg region is not limited to the city itself. Every
year the village of Kuzmonovo outside St. Petersburg hosts Sabantui, which
attracts many residents of St. Petersburg as well as local villagers.
Source: Suyumbeka magazine, No. 6, July 1998; St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 30,
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