Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Ingermanlanders Want Their Nation to Survive and Feel They have to Escape Russia to Do So But Fear Pressing for Independence Lest that Spark More Repressions, Parkkinen Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 30 – Susanna Parkkinen, an Ingermanland Finn who is creating a museum in Lapland for all Finnish diaspora groups, says that the members of her name want it to survive and feel they have to escape from Russia to do so but at the same time they fear pressing for independence lest they cause Moscow to repress them further.

            Such feelings have intensified, she says, since the start of Russia’s expanded invasion of Ukraine and they reflect the conflicted situation Ingermanland Finns who live in Leningrad Oblast feel, simultaneously fearful of their nation being destroyed and frightened about the possibility that repressions against their number will intensify.

            The conflicted feelings many Ingermanlanders have undoubtedly are found in other groups but are often ignored with some attending only to one of these two feelings rather than to the way in which they combine (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/korennye-narody/2023/08/dlya-menya-ingermanlandiya-eto-rodina-i-ona-ischezaet-rossiyanka-pereehala-v reposted at severreal.org/a/rossiyanka-pereehala-v-laplandiyu-chtoby-sozdat-muzey-svoego-naroda/32616363.html).

Bashkir Activist Ready to Give Up Territory Now within His Republic to Gain Land Bridge to Kazakhstan and Boost Prospects for Independence

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 30 – One indication of the seriousness of those activists pursuing the independence of even non-Russian republics is that they are now talking about the borders their lands should have once they succeed in gaining independence. What is striking is that some are prepared to give up territory to exchange for other land to make such aspirations more realistic.

            A key example of this involved Todar Baktemir, a Bashkir activist who is part of the spreading de-colonization movement in the Middle Volga. He says Bashkirs must be prepared to give up some of the lands now within the borders of their Moscow-delimited republic to achieve two goals (t.me/astrakhanistan/5678).

            First, he argues, Bashkirs should give up territories in which Bashkirs are a minority or soon will be to ensure that their future nation state will be more heavily Bashkir than would otherwise be the case. And second, he continues, they must do so to have something to exchange with Russians to get back historically Bashkir lands that the Soviets took from them.

            Those lands are mostly but not exclusively in what is now Orenburg Oblast, an area between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan and known to activists and supporters as the Orenburg corridor. If that area were to be returned to the Bashkirs, both they and the peoples of the Middle Volga would have an external border and have greater prospects for independence.  

            (For background on this corridor and about Moscow’s alarm concerning Ukrainian and American interest in it, see https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/02/tatars-and-bashkirs-must-recover.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/10/new-research-highlights-past-tatar.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/06/russian-census-results-reopening.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/01/ukrainian-interest-in-orenburg-corridor.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/moscow-analyst-denounces-kazakh.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/11/orenburg-corridor-threatens-russia-more.html and https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/idel-ural-activists-call-on.html.)

            How much support Bektemir’s proposal has is unknown. (For criticism of his ideas, see the writings of Ruslan Gabbasov, a Bashkir activist now living in Lithuanian exile (t.me/ruslan_gabbasov/8186). But their appearance is suggestive of the greater independence non-Russians have in their thinking than Russians do (idelreal.org/a/32612665.html).

Even if Russia Disintegrates Quickly, Remaining Remnant Won’t Cease to be Imperialist for Decades, Tüür Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 27 – The disintegration of the Russian Federation into a plethora of countries is a necessary but not sufficient condition for disappearance of imperialistic thinking in the remaining remnant which is likely to be called some variant of Russia, according to Estonian political scientist Karmo Tüür.

            Moreover, he argues in Tallinn’s Postimees newspaper, if the disintegration happens quickly as some now expect, the process of de-imperializing thinking in the remaining remnant of Russia will take decades and will involve more than de-nuclearization although that too is necessary (rus.postimees.ee/7863142/politolog-karmo-tyuyr-chtoby-stat-svobodnoy-rossii-nuzhno-perestat-sushchestvovat).

            Tüür’s observation is a welcome corrective to the unwarranted optimism of many that disintegration alone will solve the Russian problem, itself an echo of the euphoria in 1991 that the end of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc ushered in “the end of history” and a new period of universal peace and democracy.

            In fact, as the Estonian political analyst makes clear, the imperial nature of Russian thinking rests not just on that country’s possession of numerous colonies but also on its nuclear weapons and standing in the world as enshrined in its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

            All those things will have to change, something that can happen only with a very interventionist policy on the part of the international community – and even then, such changes will not be instantaneous but take decades or perhaps even generations to change the thinking of Russian rulers.

            Consequently, those who think that the disintegration of the Russian Federation will solve the world’s problems with Moscow are dangerously wrong. Disintegration is not the panacea they and their supporters think, although it is a requirement despite what others in Russia and the West are inclined to believe.

Zengezur May Become Danzig Corridor of 21st Century, Prokhvatilov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 27 – Countries that consist of contiguous units are invariably concerned about transit issues among them, and these concerns can ultimately trigger efforts by their central governments or others to seize the territory between their parts. That happened in Danzig in the middle of the 20th century, an event which opened the way to World War II.

            Now, Vladimir Prokhvatilov, a pro-Kremlin Russian commentator says, the space between Azerbaijan proper and its non-contiguous region, Nakchivan, a space the Armenians call Syunik but the Azerbaijanis and Turks call Zengezur, is on the way to becoming another such generator of conflict (vpoanalytics.com/2023/09/27/zangezurskij-koridor-stanet-dantsigskim/).

            Having successfully reintegrated Karabakh by force, Prokhvatilov says, “it cannot be completely excluded that Azerbaijan by foce will occupy the current Syunik Oblast of Armenia as at one time, the Third Reich by force ‘solved the question’ of the Danzig corridor” and took another step toward a general war.

            The Russian commentator stresses that he isn’t in any way “comparing the current leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan” with Hitler. “But at the same time, the road through Zengezur to Turkey is important as air to both countries; and for the achievement of their goals, they are capable of applying a classical operation under a false flag or by force.”

            Indeed, he says, “Ilham Aliyev has spoken about this completely openly.” But of course, this can happen only if Russia pulls back, disbands its military base in Gyumri, Armenia, and if Armenia exits from the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty, although that grouping did little for Yerevan in the recent fighting in Karabakh.

            However that may be, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey met in Nakchivan on September 25 and discussed expanded links between both countries and that exclave. The Turkish leader said that Turkish gas will reach Nakchivan later this year and a Turkish railroad by 2028 (report.az/ru/energetika/bajraktar-zhiteli-nahchyvana-smogut-poluchat-gaz-iz-turcii-zimoj-sleduyushego-goda/ and trtrussian.com/novosti/turciya-k-2028-godu-planiruet-prolozhit-zheleznuyu-dorogu-v-nahchyvan-15165603).

            And he expressed the hope that if Armenia refuses to open a transit corridor across Zyunik/Zengezur, then Iran will step in and professed to see positive signs that Tehran would agree to open a transit route if Armenia didn’t (trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3803029.html and vestikavkaza.ru/material/426767).

            Erdogan’s optimism may be misplaced, and neither Baku nor Ankara appears ready to accept Iranian guarantees on this point, especially given the tensions between Iran, on the one hand, and these two Turkic countries, on the other. As a result, a Danzig corridor-type operation cannot be excluded.

Moscow Cuts Spending on Promotion of Arctic Cooperation by More than 95 Percent

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 30 – It is a measure of Moscow’s isolation in the Arctic that the Russian government has allocated only 50 million rubles (500,000 US dollars) to promoting international cooperation in the Russian Arctic next year, down from two billion rubles (20 million US dollars) in 2023, a decline of more than 95 percent.

            These funds supported programs to attract foreign attention to the Arctic and Russian North and to cause at least some of those to invest in these regions. But Russia’s exit from various Arctic cooperation bodies and its isolation as a result of Western actions in others means there is little this money can be usefully spent in this way (akcent.site/novosti/25535).

            Whether the money saved will be redirected to Russian projects to develop infrastructure in the north or more likely used to prosecute Putin’s war in Ukraine is uncertain, but the mere fact that Moscow is acknowledging its isolation in this way says that many of its plans for the north are now being placed on hold.


Kazan Drops Plans to Promote Tatarstan Identity and will Push All-Russian Identity Instead

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 2 – In previous versions of Tatarstan’s program for “the realization of state nationality policy,” Kazan committed itself to strengthening Tatarstan identity; but in the latest one that has just been released, it makes no mention of that idea, referring instead to plans to boost all-Russian identity “not less than by 80 percent” over the next three years.

            While it is not clear exactly how that percentage increase in all-Russian identity will be measured, the absence of any commitment by Kazan to strengthening Tatarstan identity in Tatarstan represents a major victory for Moscow and defeat for the republic (milliard.tatar/news/v-tatarstane-perestanut-ukreplyat-tatarstanskuyu-identicnost-4207).

            Given Tatarstan’s flagship role among the non-Russian republics, it is likely that the others will follow the same course, something that opens the way both to the further russification of the non-Russian republics in the coming years and to growing anger among non-Russians about Moscow’s intentions.

            Indeed, this latest move, obviously originating in Moscow, may backfire on the center, with non-Russians viewing it as even more offensive that Putin’s attack on their national languages. And to the extent that is the case, this policy shift will likely exacerbate anti-Moscow feelings in many places


Dushanbe has Successfully Driven Political Islam Underground But Not Defeated It, Khadyrov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 1 – In a major and heavily documented article, Ravshan Khadyrov, a Tajik political scientist based in Moscow, traces the history of political Islam in Tajikistan since the end of Soviet times and concludes that political Islam no longer poses an existential threat to the Tajik regime but that underground activities of this kind of Islam remain a serious problem.

            (For Khadyrov’s complete article including extensive footnotes, see cyberleninka.ru/article/n/evolyutsiya-i-deinstutsionalizatsiya-politicheskogo-islama-v-tadzhikistane; for a useful summary, see ia-centr.ru/experts/iats-mgu/evolyutsiya-politicheskogo-islama-v-tadzhikistane/.)

            His key words are the following:

“Has political Islam suffered a final defeat in Tajikistan?


“Since 2015, the majority of Islamic forces in Tajikistan have gone underground. The country's leadership finally ousted the structures of political Islam from the country's political space, seeing them as a threat to the stability of the regime.


“Currently, the authorities exercise strict state control over religious activities. In 2018, a conceptual understanding of the changes that have occurred and negative trends in the religious space was reflected in the Concept of State Policy of Tajikistan in the Sphere of Religion.

“The document states that the religious environment is the most vulnerable to the spread of religious radicalism and extremism, and Islamic parties and religious-ideological movements in Tajikistan have become a political tool of “sabotage circles.”


“The masses of modern Tajikistan have little faith in the compatibility of Islam and democracy - for the majority of Tajiks, political Islam will inevitably be realized in the form of a Sharia society and will lead to restrictions on rights and freedoms.


“For this reason, sociocultural barriers and government restrictions in the religious sphere are perceived by the population with understanding.”