Moscow’s point man on this, the Tatar analyst says, is Academician Valery Tishkov, the former nationalities minister and head of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology and a key advisor to Vladimir Putin on nationality and language policy. (See windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/moscow-ready-to-use-2020-census-to.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/tishkovs-continuing-attack-on-unity-of.html).
Tishkov wants to split the Tatars in several ways. On the one hand, he wants to promote the Kryashens, the Siberian Tatars, and some additional smaller groups as subgroups of the Tatars in the 2020 census, a clear step toward recognizing them as separate and independent national communities at some point in the future.
And on the other, the Moscow scholar wants to introduce the category of mixed nationality such as Tatar-Bashkirs, which like the first step would be used to reduce the overall number of Tatars in the census and encourage even more falsification of census returns especially in Bashkortostan to boost the share of Bashkirs at Tatar expense.
Tishkov has been pushing for these steps since at least 2002, Garifullin says; but to date, he has not been able to gain the official backing of the statistical authorities in Moscow, in part because Kazan officials have lobbied strongly against such moves. But today, Tishkov appears to be on the verge of getting his way, and so it is important to step up the effort against him.
Some Tatars mistakenly believe that, despite Moscow’s attack on their language which makes them second-class citizens in the country, they can nonetheless win out because their fertility rate is higher than that of the ethnic Russians. But that hope is misplaced. Unlike the North Caucasians, the fertility rate of Tatars is below replacement level and only slightly above the Russian one, 1.88 children per woman per lifetime as opposed to 1.71.
This reflects the greater urbanization and modernization of the Tatars and Russians as compared to the North Caucasians and is thus a secular trend that may be slowed but cannot be easily reversed. Consequently, even if no changes are made in the census, the number of Tatars will likely decline relative to the total population.
Counting on the birthrate to “save” the Tatar nation is thus no longer appropriate or even possible, Garifullin says. Instead, “the only means of preserving the ethnic potential for the peoples of Russia is to strengthen their national self-consciousness via historical memory and language.”
“And for Muslim peoples” like the Tatars, to rely more heavily “on Islamic traditions.”