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[tatar-l] "Bulgars" Press Their Case in Civil Courts

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  • SabirzyanB@aol.com
    Bulgars Press Their Case in Civil Courts It is no secret that many Tatars are uncomfortable about their own ethnicity, including their own ethnonym. This is
    Message 1 of 2 , May 22, 1999
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      "Bulgars" Press Their Case in Civil Courts

      It is no secret that many Tatars are uncomfortable about their own ethnicity,
      including their own ethnonym. This is unusual but not surprising:
      historically, in Russia, the word "Tatar" has had very strong negative
      connotations. Very often, it takes some courage to call yourself a Tatar,
      especially if you happen to live in a predominantly Russian environment.

      The low ethnic self-esteem and severe discomfort associated with the word
      'Tatar" has recently found its most dramatic expression in the so-called
      "Bulgar movement." The movement was founded more than a century ago by a
      Tatar cleric Bagautdin Vaisov, who taught his followers that they were the
      descendants of Bulgars, a Turkic tribe that settled in the Middle Volga area
      in the 7th-9th centuries C.E. Members of his sect rejected the enthnonym
      "Tatar" and called themselves "Bulgars." With the death of Vaisov in 1918 his
      sect gradually disappeared despite the efforts of his son, Gainan, to
      reinvogorate it.

      During the Soviet period the "Bulgar movement" disappeared altogether,
      although the debate about the origins of Tatars continued for decades within
      the academic community. With the breakup of the USSR the "Bulgar movement"
      was revived by the members of such groups as "Bulgar-al-Jadid" and "Bulgar
      National Congress." One of their demands is to be allowed to change the
      entry in their passports pertaining to ethnicity. During the last few years
      as many as 200 people in Kazan have applied to the local authorities with the
      request to change their passports to reflect their "true" ethnic origin.

      Recently, some members of these organizations began pressing their case in
      civil courts. In Kazan, the president of the Bulgar National Congress,
      Gusman Khalilov, filed a law suit in the civil court of the Vakhitovsky
      district. The purpose of the law suit was to force the local authorities to
      allow him to replace the word "Tatar" in his passport with the word "Bulgar."
      In a surprising ruling, the Vakhitovsky district court allowed Khalilov to
      change the respective entry in his passport. The ruling was immediately
      appealed to the Supreme Court of Tatarstan, which, in turn, reversed the
      ruling of the lower court.

      Something similar happened this year in Ulyanovsk region. An ethnic Tatar,
      Shaukat Bogdanov, has filed a law suit in the Zasviyazhsky district court of
      Simbirsk, the regional capital. The judge who decided the case, Olga
      Boikova, has ruled that Bogdanov and his family have the right to replace the
      word "Tatar" in their passports with the word "Bulgar." The judge based her
      ruling on the article 26 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which
      states that anyone can freely choose his or her ethnicity and indicate it in
      the passport.

      Sabirzyan Badretdin

      Sources: "Vechernyaya Kazan", No. 77, May 18, 1999,
      (<http://www.vk.melt.ru>); "Simbirsk Courier" No. 32, March 4, 1999,
      (<http://www.courier.mv.ru>)



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    • Sabirzyan@aol.com
      Bulgars Press Their Case in Civil Courts It is no secret that many Tatars are uncomfortable about their own ethnicity, including their own ethnonym. This is
      Message 2 of 2 , May 24, 1999
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        "Bulgars" Press Their Case in Civil Courts

        It is no secret that many Tatars are uncomfortable about their own ethnicity,
        including their own ethnonym. This is unusual but not surprising:
        historically, in Russia, the word "Tatar" has had very strong negative
        connotations. Very often, it takes some courage to call yourself a Tatar,
        especially if you happen to live in a predominantly Russian environment.

        The low ethnic self-esteem and severe discomfort associated with the word
        'Tatar" has recently found its most dramatic expression in the so-called
        "Bulgar movement." The movement was founded more than a century ago by a
        Tatar cleric Bagautdin Vaisov, who taught his followers that they were the
        descendants of Bulgars, a Turkic tribe that settled in the Middle Volga area
        in the 7th-9th centuries C.E. Members of his sect rejected the enthnonym
        "Tatar" and called themselves "Bulgars." With the death of Vaisov in 1918 his
        sect gradually disappeared despite the efforts of his son, Gainan, to
        reinvogorate it.

        During the Soviet period the "Bulgar movement" disappeared altogether,
        although the debate about the origins of Tatars continued for decades within
        the academic community. With the breakup of the USSR the "Bulgar movement"
        was revived by the members of such groups as "Bulgar-al-Jadid" and "Bulgar
        National Congress." One of their demands is to be allowed to change the
        entry in their passports pertaining to ethnicity. During the last few years
        as many as 200 people in Kazan have applied to the local authorities with the
        request to change their passports to reflect their "true" ethnic origin.

        Recently, some members of these organizations began pressing their case in
        civil courts. In Kazan, the president of the Bulgar National Congress,
        Gusman Khalilov, filed a law suit in the civil court of the Vakhitovsky
        district. The purpose of the law suit was to force the local authorities to
        allow him to replace the word "Tatar" in his passport with the word "Bulgar."
        In a surprising ruling, the Vakhitovsky district court allowed Khalilov to
        change the respective entry in his passport. The ruling was immediately
        appealed to the Supreme Court of Tatarstan, which, in turn, reversed the
        ruling of the lower court.

        Something similar happened this year in Ulyanovsk region. An ethnic Tatar,
        Shaukat Bogdanov, has filed a law suit in the Zasviyazhsky district court of
        Simbirsk, the regional capital. The judge who decided the case, Olga
        Boikova, has ruled that Bogdanov and his family have the right to replace the
        word "Tatar" in their passports with the word "Bulgar." The judge based her
        ruling on the article 26 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which
        states that anyone can freely choose his or her ethnicity and indicate it in
        the passport.

        Sabirzyan Badretdin

        Sources: "Vechernyaya Kazan", No. 77, May 18, 1999,
        (<http://www.vk.melt.ru>); "The Simbirsk Courier" No. 32, March 4, 1999,
        (<http://www.courier.mv.ru>)



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