Troubled accommodation of Tatarstan in Russian Federation / Western Sahara to be Moroccan “till end of time”

3 to 9 November

Tatarstan capital city Kazan.
Tatarstan capital city Kazan.
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. It has been a complicated week in Tatarstan, where the reduction of Tatar hours in school has once again shown the difficulties of Russia’s federated republics in exercising their self-government. In Catalonia, Parliament president Carme Forcadell has enlarged the list of Catalan political prisoners in Spanish prisons. And in Morocco, king Mohamed VI has insisted that Western Sahara will remain occupied forever.


Tatar language rolls back in Tatarstan schoolsamid protests. The president of Tatarstan —one of Russia’s federated republics— has announced that the teaching of Tatar language will be reduced from current 6 hours per week to only 2. Rustam Minnikhanov has added that his government will not be firing any Tatar language teacher, but that his cabinet will increase the number of Russian language teachers.

The decision has been taken despite a protest that, November 6, brought together 150 people —including Tatar intellectuals— in Tatarstan’s capital Kazan, asking for protection for the Tatar language. Protesters demanded the equality of Tatar and Russian, both of which according to the Tatarstan Constitution are the republic’s official languages. The use of Tatar is receding among younger sectors of society, being unable to resist the pressure of Russian.

These events take place after Russian president Vladimir Putin said in July that “it is impermissible” to force ethnic Russians to learn languages other than their mother tongue. One month later, the power-sharing, bilateral treaty between the Russian Federation and Tatarstan, which was signed in 2007 for a 10 year period, expired. The Russian federal centre continues not to renew the agreement, a stance that in Tatarstan is understood as yet one more step to put the republic under the direct control of the Federation. The Russian presidency has admitted it has “given instruction” to Tatarstan authorities regarding the reduction of Tatar hours in education.


Catalan Parliament president sent to jail. Spain’s Supreme Court judge Pablo Llanera decided, 9 November, to send pro-independence politician Carme Forcadell and four other Parliament bureau members to prison over rebellion charges. But unlike 8 Catalan government members and 2 pro-independence civil society leaders jailed in October, Forcadell and the bureau members have the opportunity to avoid prison by paying a bail (150.000 euros for Forcadell and 25.000 euros for each of the other politicians). Forcadell, 9 November, has been sent to Alcalá Meco prison, where she has spent the night.

Mohamed VI: Western Sahara to remain Moroccan “till the end of time”. Speaking on the 42th commemoration of the Green March, the king has recalled that Morocco is ready to do “whatever sacrifice” is needed to keep Western Sahara within the Moroccan borders. Sahrawi Foreign minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek has replied that Moroccan occupation is illegal and has recalled that Morocco and France are to be deemed responsible for the deadlock in the conflict resolution. According to international law, Western Sahara should be decolonized through a self-determination process.

Pro-independence list below 1% in Sicily. Siciliani Liberi candidate Roberto La Rosa has received 0.7% of the votes in the Sicilian Regional Assembly election. Party president Massimo Costa has admitted the results are “certainly below” their expectations. Still, Costa recalled that the party is just one year old, and needs time to become known and consolidated. The election winner (29 seats of 62) is a conservative alliance led by Nello Musumeci, who was member of far-right parties Italian Social Movement and National Alliance for 35 years. Musumeci is now leading his own party, Diventerà Bellissima. Within that alliance, the party with most seats is Forza Italia (12) while Sicilian regionalist parties Popolari and Movimento per le Autonomie have secured 5 seats. Second placed has been the 5 Stars Movement (19 seats). Fabrizio Micari’s centrist alliance has come third (13, 11 of which for the Democratic Party).