Staunton, December 27 – The Free Idel-Ural Movement is calling on Bashkortostan to seek the return of the Kuvandyk and Gaysk districts of Orenburg Oblast in upcoming border talks between Ufa and Orenburg. Not only are those districts mostly populated by Tatars and Bashkirts, but their recovery would restore to Bashkortostan an external border with Kazakhstan.
Until 1925, the Bashkir ASSR and the Kazakh ASSR had such a common border, but the Soviet authorities changed it so that there would be a predominantly Russian region, Orenburg, between the two Turkic republics, lest they cooperate too closely or Bashkortostan and the Idel-Ural republics use such an external border to argue they should be raised to union republic status.
Such a status, of course, would have meant that they would have been given state independence when the USSR disintegrated in 1991, and consequently, discussions about what some call “the Orenburg corridor” have been a regular feature in Bashkir and Tatar media since that time. That has only intensified since Ufa announced plans to demarcate its borders.
(For background on the Orenburg corridor and Russian fears about what it would mean if Bashkortostan were able to recover it and have direct access to Kazakhstan, see this author’s two articles at jamestown.org/program/the-orenburg-corridor-and-the-future-of-the-middle-volga/ and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/moscow-analyst-denounces-kazakh.html march 2018.)
The Free Idel-Ural Movement which the Russian authorities have repressed to the point that most of its leaders are now in exile has now made a direct appeal to Radi Khabirov, the head of Bashkortostan, to seek the recovery of what it describes as Bashkir territory. Ramazan Alpaut of IdelReal posts the appeal on that portal (idelreal.org/a/29679136.html).
According to the Free Idel-Ural Movement, “even now a significant percent of the population [of this region] consists of Bashkirs and Tatars. Unfortunately, in Oreburg, conditions for the preservation and development of Bashkir culture are in fact lacking. It is thus important that the new borders of the Republic of Bashkortostan not only include as much as possible the areas where Bashkirs live but also make possible the strengthening of economic and humanitarian ties between the fraternal peoples of Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan.”
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