Saturday, April 16, 2016

By Bringing Charges, FSB is Energizing and Politicizing Pan-Mongolism among Buryats

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 16 – By charging a Buryat with pan-Mongolism and thus threatening the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, the FSB risks producing what it claims to be fighting: a political movement for the unification of all Mongols in a single state rather than only a more nebulous desire for cultural cooperation among them, according to Buryat bloggers.

            At the end of March, according to online reports yesterday, the Russian security service initiated charges against Vladimir Khagdayev for organizing an online group that discussed greater cultural cooperation among Mongol groups inside the Russian Federation and abroad ( and

            Specifically, the FSB charged Khagdayev with violating the Russian law prohibiting any questioning of Russia’s territorial integrity. If he is found guilty, he could be subject to as many as five years imprisonment.  But Buryat bloggers say that the charges are completely without foundation.

            On the one hand, they point out, pan-Mongolism, which has its roots in early 20th century, is a historical idea and therefore one that Russian citizens have the right to discuss. And on the other, contemporary pan-Mongolism of the kind Khagdayev represents is exclusively cultural and has no interest in promoting the formation of a single Mongol state.

            They speculate that one of the reasons the Russian security agency has moved against him is that Khagdayev has been sharply critical of the amalgamation of the Ust-Orda Buryat District into Irkutsk oblast as part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to reduce the number of federal subjects by eliminating the so-called “matryoshka” national territories.

            While objecting to that action can hardly be a violation of the Russian law on the country’s territorial integrity, if this interpretation is correct, then it shows that Putin’s amalgamation plan may be becoming increasingly unpopular rather than increasingly accepted by the population.

            But more seriously, as the Buryat blogger “Yevrobur” writes, “in fact, the regional administration of the FSB for the Buryat Republic by taking such steps is doing everything possible in order that the idea of pan-Mongolism will be returned to its initial historical [and political] meaning.”

            And this means, the blogger continues, that it is the FSB itself which “is conducting propaganda on the destruction of Russia.  How else can one understand all its actions” in this case?

However that may be, it is certain that the charges against Khagdayev are having the effect of leading ever more Buryats to think about pan-Mongolism. to recall the repressions visited upon those charged with pan-Mongolism and subjected to repression in Stalin’s times, and to ask, as a second Buryat blogger does, whether those times are coming back.

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