Staunton, December 29 – Polls show that Kazan has now joined St. Petersburg and Moscow as one of the three most xenophobic cities in the Russian Federation (nazaccent.ru/content/26300-v-2017-godu-liderami-po-urovnyu.html), and now Kseniya Sobchak says “the powers are doing everything needed to give rise to separatism in Tatarstan.”
Speaking in Kazan, the opposition candidate quotes Gandhi’s aphorism that “first, they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you and then you win” to explain why she has hopes for her campaign although she acknowledged that in Putin’s Russia it is “premature” to talk about “a President Sobchak” (business-gazeta.ru/article/368471).
“The problem is not Putin,” she continues; “the problem is that we think that things will always be this way and that we can’t change anything. As soon as we stop thinking that way, then suddenly it will turn out that all this will be destroyed in one second and there won’t be any Putin anymore.”
Sobchak says that Putin’s language policy is “unjust” and that Tatarstan has the right to make its own decisions on languages in schools. If it can’t save Tatar by doing so, in a generation, a situation will arise “when a large number of people born here, with their own roots will simply not know Tatar.”
In her view, the fact that Tatar is a state language in Tatarstan wasn’t interfering with anyone’s rights and that any decisions should be made by referendum there rather than by “little father tsar” in Moscow, especially because language issues are so important to the Tatars and other nationalities.
But by ignoring this reality, Sobchak says, “the federal center has awakened regional separatism,” something it should have recognized was a danger given that “in Ukraine everything began with the very same thing – with pressure on a region and the conflict of interests. There is only one way out – give the regions more freedom to make decisions.”
In other comments, she notes that the issue isn’t the need to “stop feeding Moscow” as many imagine but rather to “stop feeding corrupt elites.” And she argues that Russia should promote a Russian world the way the US promotes American values as it is doing in Ukraine, by creating an attractive example rather than seeking to impose itself by force.
According to Sobchak, “no one is preventing Russia from doing the same thing.”
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