Staunton, August 18 – Next week, on August 26, the Tatarstan Supreme Court will take up in closed session a case which seeks to declare extremist Vakhit Imamov’s 1993 study of the Russian occupation of Tatarstan in the 16th and 17th centuries, an action directed not only at him but at the Tatar national movement in the republic and in emigration.
The Russian-language book (Kazan, 1993, 80 pages; full text available at protatar.narod.ru/Kitaplar/TatarHistory.html) was extremely popular at the time and had been slated to appear in the Tatar writer’s collected works; but the suit has led the publisher to suspend publication of those.
Vakhitov says that he believes that the suit which the writer describes as completely absurd and which ostensibly has been brought by “a certain Reshitsky,” in fact was launched by the powers that be who don’t want to offend current sensibilities in Moscow (azatliq.org/a/30106082.html).
The book contains terms like “’Russian yoke’” and “’colonizers,’” he says, words that those behind the suit don’t like. It is entirely possible that if his book is declared extremist for such expressions, soon the authorities in Kazan and Moscow will try to declare “the declaration on sovereignty” extremist too (idelreal.org/a/30107812.html).
As such, this case is a bellwether in terms of official attitudes toward the Tatars and their history. But it is also directed against very specific leaders of the Tatar national movement. The book itself was published in 1993 with the backing of Naberezhny Chelny businessmen Rinat, Rafis and Nafis Kashapov.
Rafis Kashapov after spending three years in prison for opposing Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea has received political asylum from Great Britain and now carries on his political activities from abroad. Attacking a book he backed is another way of attacking him.