Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Tishkov’s Continuing Attack on Unity of Tatars Outrages Kazan Scholar

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 13 – Academician Valery Tishkov’s statement that Moscow will register subgroups within the Tatar nation in the 2020 census (On his words, see has sparked a sharp rejoinder from Damir Iskhakov, a leading Tatar historian.

            Iskhov, the former head of the Center for Ethno-Political Monitoring of the Kazan Institute of History says that Tishkov’s words this week are nothing more than what he has been saying “for many years” without achieving what are his and Moscow’s obvious goal, the weakening of the Tatars (

                Tishkov began this effort by promoting the idea that “within the Tatars are several groups: the Kryashens, the Nagaybeks, and the Siberian Tatars. There also appeared,” thanks to his efforts, ‘Mishars, Bulgars, and Astrakhan Tatars but these are very small groups,” the Tatarstan historian continues.

            The Moscow ethnologist did not achieve his goals in 2002 and so he tried again in 2010, but again, the census results did not “confirm his theory” as the Tatars showed themselves not to be “divided. But despite this, Valery Tishkov, being an ideologue of the creation of a ‘non-ethnic Russian nation’ remains attached to the idea that the Tatras must be divided.”

            Moscow following Tishkov wants to separate out the Kryashens from the Tatars. “In Tishkov’s opinion, if the Kryashens will be recognized as a separate people, then the Tatars in Tatarstan will be less than 50 percent of the population.” The Moscow Patriarch has “blessed this idea.”

            But it is important to label campaign for what it is, the Kazan historian says.  It is part and parcel of “the imperial policy” of Moscow. Only 10 percent of the Kryashens register as Kryashens; instead, the absolute majority of them declare that they are Tatars who profess Orthodoxy.”

            Were Tishkov to somehow succeed in doing what he would like, he would be creating a nation based on religion alone. Doing so would be “fraught with consequences” because in many nationalities, including the Tatars, there are people of different religions. Does Tishkov really want to split up all nations which are religious diverse?

            There is another problem which Tishkov didn’t mention in his latest interview but that he has promoted in the past. “Before the 2020 census in Bashkortostan may appear a group of ‘Bashkir-Tatars’ or ‘Tatar-Bashkirs.’” (Tishkov has often spoken of the value of allowing people to declare more than one ethnic membership.)

            “In 2002,” Iskhakov says, “the number of Bashkirs in the Republic of Bashkortostan was increased at the expense of the Tatars. Moscow said nothing and oculdn’t prevent this. It also couldn’t force the government of Bashkortostan to return the ‘lost’ Tatars.” Obviously, Moscow is trying to split yet another nation.

            But according to the Tatar historian, “the Bashkirs and the Tatars will be against” such a move for political reasons.

            Tatars need to be very clear about their position in advance of the 2020 census and work to influence statisticians in Moscow lest the latter follow Tishkov and work against the survival of the Tatar nation. “Why must we listen only to [him]?” Iskhakov asks rhetorically.  The time to act is now before any irrevocable steps are taken in preparing the census forms.

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