Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Tatarstan Spending Pathetically Little on Preservation of National Identity and Language, Gyylman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 30 – The amount of money Kazan is spending on the preservation of Tatar national identity and language are “negligible when compared with the profit which directly or indirectly the preservation of the identity and culture of the Tatars would bring,” according to Nail Gyylman.

            The analyst who blogs for the 7x7 regional affairs portal says that the republic program for preserving national identity calls for spending 44.6 million rubles (700,000 US dollars) in 2020, 37.3 million rubles (600,000 US dollars) in 2021, and 31.8 million rubles (500,000 US dollars) in 2022 (

            For the man in the street, these may seem like enormous sums, Gyylman continues. “But for the budget of Tatarstan, they are pathetically small – 0.016 percent or less than 1/6000th of the spending of the republic this year, a clear indication that these things are anything but a priority for Kazan.

            The same thing is true with regard to spending on the preservation of Tatar, the state language. The government plans to spend 123 million rubles (two million US dollars) each year on preserving languages, but “approximately half of that” is to go to preserve Russian.  Tatar will get only about a million dollars a year.

            What this means, Gyylman continues, is that the government is showing “not concern but complete neglect political and business elite by the majority of the Tatar for the problems of the preservation of our nation, its language and culture.” Yes, there are other parts of the budget that go into these programs but they are also small.

            “The financing of these programs,” he says, “is an indicator of the extremely low priority of nationality problems for bureaucrats” and of the low probability that such small efforts will have a major impact. Much more important for these officials is the success of the economy, but they fail to see that the two things are closely interrelated.

            “The existence of the Tatars as a nation and the preservation of their national identity has enormous economic potential,” including the attraction of investment from Turkey. And the sums Kazan already gets from that source exceeds “by a thousand times” the sums allocated for supporting the national identity of the Tatars.

            Given that, Gyylman argues, Tatarstan should be spending “at a minimum 100 times more” on such programs and they should be measured in billions, not millions of rubles. The current level of spending is not only an imitation of a real effort but is undermining the basis of the Tatar economy, the existence of Tatars and Tatarstan.

             According to Gyylman, “the development of the Tatar people is the ideological basis for the existence and development of Tatarstan. Thanks to the existence of the Tatars as a nation, the republic elite earns billions of dollars and gets high posts in Moscow.” But it turns around and spend less on defending its nation’s language and identity than it does on each of its residences.

            Such an approach, the analyst suggests, is in effect sawing off the limb of the tree on which the elite itself is sitting. If the language and culture of the Tatars disappears, so too will the positions and wealth of the Tatar elite.

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