Thursday, October 19, 2017

Putin’s Goal for Russia is ‘One People, One Language, and One Religion,’ Tatar Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 19 – Vladimir Putin and his regime are pursuing a goal for Russia that can best be summed up by the phrase “one people, one language, and one religion,” Fauziya Bayramova says; and that will spend disaster or even death of the non-Russian nations of the country.

            The Putin regime, the Ittifaq Tatar Independence Party founder says, has pursued a multi-move and in some cases indirect campaign to achieve its goal. It has not always succeeded. Moscow tried to promote the idea of a single ethnic Russian nation, but “the people opposed this” (

            Consequently, she continues, the Kremlin has pursued an indirect approach, “baptism through language,” an approach that involves “language first and then Orthodoxy.”  Putin is not alone in pushing this, Bayramova says.  The Russian Orthodox Church, Russian chauvinists like Mikhalkov and Rogozin and the force structures are all involved.

            Putin is doing this now because he has achieved many of his goals in foreign affairs: he already looks “like a conqueror” to many Russians, even though he may he may restart in campaigns against Ukraine, the Baltic countries and so on in the near future. But now he wants to focus on domestic issues.

            A major “domestic problem” that Putin has to address is that of the nations of the country. “After the elections or even during them national republics will be no more as a result of the amalgamation of regions. But there are and will be nations: We exist!” Putin thus decided to attack via the schools rather than via laws.

            If Putin had used law, Bayramova argues, “international organizations would have complained because that would have affected national minorities” about which they have strong views.  The Kremlin leader is thus being clever, but he has other reasons to be moving in this direction.

            He is confident that he can do what he wants because in the past “the national republics have given him 90 percent of their votes. But it is not the people who have done so but rather the leaders of the regions: They will give however many are required.” And he moved on language to “show” to Russians that he is “the Russian little father tsar.”

            For Putin, the existence of republics is even more of a problem as far as his vision is concerned than is the existence of nations, Bayramova suggests. That is why he and his team began their attack on Tatarstan by going after Tatneft and then Tatfondbank. But now he attacking language, and “no one expected that” because the school year had already begun.

            On the one hand, that has meant that fewer people have been able to mobilize against this move; and on the other, it means that Putin has created a kind of chaos about which outsiders will find it difficult to judge, thus allowing Putin the opportunity to move forward toward his goal more easily.

            The leaders of the republic should be speaking out, Bayramova says. They need to tell the people the truth that “soon the republic can disappear, along with Tatar literature, Tatar culture, and the Tatar nation itself.” They must declare that we won’t be able to save these things only by speaking the languages at home in our kitchens.

            The powers that be in the republic have something to lose, and Moscow can exploit that. They are their children and grandchildren,” the Ittifaq leader says, long ago became Russian speakers. Their own fear is that they will lose their positions or their wealth.  But ordinary Tatars have even more to lose: their language and their nation.

            Consequently, it is critically important to say openly to the federal authorities and the people: “The disappearance of the Tatar language in the schools will lead to the disappearance of the Tatar nation. Do you want this?”

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