Friday, February 1, 2019

Tatars Must Wake Up or Face a Future without a Republic, without a Language, and without a Nation, Bayramova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 31 – Fausiya Bayramova, the founder of the Ittifaq National Independence Party, says that she decided to take part in the discussion of the draft Strategy for the Development of the Tatar People because its provisions make it clear that Tatars must act now or face a future without a republic, without a language and without a nation.

            In putting out the strategy for public discussion, she says, the authorities implicitly recognized that things have reached the point that Moscow is moving to destroy the national republics and Tatarstan in particular and have decided to provide a kind of “re-insurance” for themselves (

            Bayramova says she is doing the same thing, using this “last chance to awaken the people.  “You will disappear from history,” she warns. “Come together! Everything now depends on you – not on the Strategy, not on Minnikhanov, not on Bayramova, and not on Putin. It depends on you.”

            According to her, “if the people want to remain Tatar and Muslim, no one will defeat it. Right now, however, there is such apathy and a sense of being at a dead end among the people. One must awaken faith in itself. Now is the 21st century: we are not starving, there is no war, and there is no famine.”

            The powers that be in Kazan are also preparing the Tatars for next year “when Tatarstan already will hardly exist. They know this,” she continues, “but they do not say it. In the outline of the Strategy, there are words like ‘adapt’ and ‘mobilize,’ but mobilize for what? And adapt to what conditions – those in which there will not be a Tatarstan?”

            Two hours of Tatar a week in the schools is “temporary,” Bayramova says; Moscow wants to eliminate even that.  “If private schools and higher educational institutions existed, if our millionaires would bring their money back from America, then we could catch up.” But the most important thing is for the people to wake up and believe in themselves.

            The strategy document doesn’t talk about federalism or republic sovereignty. Instead, it is designed to prepare people from the disappearance of Tatarstan next year. There are no words in it about politics or about geopolitics, even though changes in the latter mean that Tatars have to be ready for almost anything.

            A major reason that Moscow wants to do away with Tatarstan is that if it does, then there won’t be the issue of doing away with the presidency of the republic. If there is no republic, Bayramova says, there can’t be any talk of a presidency.

            The strategy document is directed at Tatars of the entire world, but Bayramova says that she is convinced that “the Tatar nation can be preserved only in the Idel-Ural regions. Here millions of Tatars live in compact settlements, they speak and write in Tatar, there are Tatar schools, writers and an intelligentsia. Beyond the Urals, none of these things exist.”

            “There, there are Tatars,” she says, “but there is no nation.” Those are two different things, she insists. A nation has to have state institutions of various kinds; people who identify with that ethnicity can potentially live anywhere. They may look to Kazan but they are not really part of the Tatar nation.

            In other remarks, she says that there are three basic shortcomings of the Strategy: “the absence of the idea of the statehood of the Tatar people, the weak development of the issue of religion, and insufficient attention to the national spirit. She also called for teaching Arabic and shifting to the Latin script which the entire world relies on.

            Bayramova concludes that she cannot struggle on two fronts at once: “I fought against the empire which oppressed my people and language. I fought with the local nomenklatura which sold our sovereignty. I cannot fight against this Strategy: I will fight for my people. I don’t have the strength to fight on two fronts at once.”

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