The Mordovian Republic Society of Tatar culture, Yaktashlar [Countrymen], was established on 28 June 1991 by the Congress of the Representatives of the Tatar population of Mordovia. The Organization Committee included members of the Mordovian Department of the Tatar Social Centre (Saransk) and of the Sharif Kamal Society (Ruzayevka).

The Yaktashlar Society was officially registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Mordovian SSR on 12 September 1991. The society was re-registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Mordovian Republic and its name was changed to The Mordovian Public Organization of Tatar Culture Society, Yaktashlar.

The leaders of the society have been as follows:

  • 1991-1992 Chairman of the Board and the Council, I.D. Bikkinin
  • 1992-1997 Chairman of the Board, I.D. Bikkinin - Chairman of the Council, A.A. Salimov
  • June 1997-July 1999 Chairman of the Board and the Council, S.Z. Bikmayev
  • Since July 1999 Chairman of the Board and the Council, I.D. Bikkinin

The Yaktashlar Society has the following aims and objectives:

  • 1. Satisfying the cultural and spiritual needs of Tatars living in Mordovia; furthering the development of Tatar culture, and promoting study of Tatar language, literature, and art.
  • 2. Acquainting the people of Mordovia with the culture and the history of the Tatar nation.
  • 3. Furthering the study and development of the culture of the Tatars of Mordovia.
  • 4. Promoting the study of the objective history of the Tatars of Mordovia.
  • 5. Advancing knowledge among the Tatars of Mordovia of the cultures and the histories of other nations of Mordovia, including Russians, Mokshas, Erzias, and others.

The Yaktashlar Society is engaged in the following activities:

  • a) The Society has been publishing a free newspaper, The Tatar Gazette, in Tatar and Russian since 21 August 1997;
  • b) The Society is helping scientists and postgraduate students engaged in researching the history and the culture of the Tatars;
  • c) Members of the Society are researching the history and the culture of the Tatars in Mordovia;
  • d) The Society is working on the following books, The Tatars of Mordovia: Yesterday and Today and The Princes Mamin, as well as on articles concerning eminent Tatars from Mordovia, for the Mordovian and Tatar Encyclopedias;
  • e) The Society maintains contact with Tatar social organizations in other regions of the Russian Federation and analogous organizations of other nations of Mordovia, and tries to support the same to the best of its abilities;
  • f) The Society always participates in Safargaliev’s Scientific Forum at the Mordovian University and contributes to the expenses for organizing it. In addition, it awards the best student of history;
  • g) The Society helps the Ministry of Education of the Mordovian Republic and the Institute of Teachers Skills Improvement in organizing Republican olympiads for Tatar language;
  • h) The Society purchases and conveys free of charge books to the libraries of Saransk and of Tatar villages;
  • i) The Society participates in Republican colloquia (councils, conferences, etc.) concerning national problems;
  • j) The Society helps to select and to transport winners of the Republican Olympiad for Tatar language to Selet Computer Camp in Tatarstan;
  • k) The Society promotes and participates in The International Unity of Social Organizations World Congress of Tatars.

The workings of The Yaktashlar Society are completely public. It maintains friendly relations with nearly every other national organization in Mordovia – Russian, Mordovian, Azerbaijani, although we have no contacts with The Jewish Society. The Azerbaijani Society has almost ceased functioning, as has The Russian Society. The closest contacts have been established with the Erzian society, The A.P. Ryabov Social Fund for Saving the Erzian Language, which publishes its own newspaper, The Erzian Mastor [The Erzian Land].

The society used to maintain contacts with various Tatar political and social organizations. However, since 1997, the only contacts it maintains with other Tatar organizations are with the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Tatars.

There are no direct contacts, meetings, or negotiations with the administrative authorities of Tatarstan.

Members of the society transmit Tatar broadcasts on Mordovian Radio stations.

In 1997 the society published a digest of the folklore of the Tatars of Mordovia, Rehmet, eni [Thank you, Mother], and prepared another digest of folklore.

The Society has established the Yaktashlar Award for Boxing in memory of Rifat Manerov.

The Society provides transport for the Tatar folk group, Umorzaya, (Lyambir) when they travel to distant Tatar villages to perform concerts.

The Society has financed meetings with widows of soldiers killed during World War II.

The Society has aided the Aksenovo Secondary School in making a stand for the teaching of Tatar language and helped pass the procedure for certifying the school. In addition, it prepared and published two brochures on methods for teaching Tatar, based on the experience of the teachers of Tatar language at the Aksenovo Secondary School, Guzel Baymetova and Maisire Yanglicheva. The society provides Russian-Tatar interpreters to the Public Prosecution Department, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Peoples Courts in Saransk.

The Yaktashlar Society is currently at a critical moment. As a result of its financial resources having been depleted, the question of its closure is being raised. A similar problem occured in 1997 when the question of its closure was likewise raised. Then well-known Tatar businessman and politician, Shamil Bikmayev, saved the Society from closure by agreeing to finance most of the society’s expenses. However, at the end of July 1999 Bikmayev declared that he could no longer finance the Society, and resigned from the post of Chairman. The Council then elected Irek Bikkinin, the chief editor of The Tatar Gazette, as temporary chairman of the Board and of the Council.

E-mail: irek@moris.ru