Staunton, May 23 – Yesterday, after a court case that was begun in February but interrupted by the pandemic, a judge on the Bashkortostan supreme court ruled that the Bashkir public organization Bashkortwas “extremist” and that the group is therefore banned in the Russian Federation.
The republic authorities had sought this decision both because of the statements of some of the members of the group and because Bashkort has sharply criticized them for failing to stand up to Moscow’s policies on languages and culture and called for the national movement to demand change (idel-ural.org/archives/защищавших-башкирский-язык-активист).
That call was sufficient, upon government-organized “linguistic expertise” to hold that the group threatens the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and must be banned for that reason if none other. After the decision, the government press service seconded that view as it announced the ban (tass.ru/proisshestviya/8540985).
Lawyers for Bashkort have announced they will appeal the decision to the Russian Supreme Court; and if they fail to get a reversal there, something no one familiar with Russian jurisprudence has already reason to expect, they probably will appeal to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.
This decision is unfortunate on its own grounds. Bashkort is not the extremist group the authorities claim, and Moscow’s actions against it come at a time when the Kremlin seems to have launched a new wave of repression against non-Russians hoping that few will notice given the pandemic (region.expert/bars-bashkort/