Monday, June 3, 2019

Imprisoned for Advocating Federalism in Russia: a Bashkir’s Appeal from Jail

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 2 – Not only has the Putin regime systematically destroyed the federalism that was supposed to be guaranteed by the 1993 Russian Constitution, but it has begun putting in prison those who call for the restoration and development of federalism. What the Kremlin has not been able to do is to suppress the desire for federalism even among those it jails.

            Three months ago, the Russian powers that be arrested Ayrat Dilmuhametov, a Bashkir opposition politician and commentator, charging him among other things with seeking to create a new federation, an appeal that Moscow interpreted as a threat to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

            Dilmukhametov has now issued a remarkable letter from prison in which he reiterates his call for the restoration of genuine federalism (, presented and discussed at Below are the key passages from his message.

“After the collapse of the Soviet empire, Russia was able to preserve itself only as a federal state, but the model of so-called ‘constitutional federalism,’ created from above when the former metropolitan center signed a Federal Treaty with its former autonomies and oblasts. Over the course of the last 20 years, nothing remains of this federalism.

“Genuine federalism the counterweight to collapse and separatism and only genuine, guaranteed federalism if it comes to exist in the Russian Federation will now allow things to go off in the direction of autocracy and a police state and logically lead the richest country to become an outcast and a technological loser.

“Today, wealthy Bashkortostan has been transformed into a much-reduced colony, a depressed recipient region. And our task is to create a new (Fourth) Republic, a genuinely free and social state within a new a genuine Federation. And on this path, there will be no games in the underground or secrecy or hypocrisy or God forbid force.

“Only political enlightenment, only legal political struggle, complete openness, reliance on rights, human rights and the rights of nations. The implacable logic of the suicidal course chosen by the ruling group is leading Russia to an inevitable reformatting. This is a question of three to seven years, no more.

“The new Constitution must include an inviolable mechanism for the preservation of these rights, the rights of nations, the federative character of the country, an increase in the role of regions in federal politics, from the formation of a Federal Assembly to a federal government and a federal bank that today is completely beyond the control of the regions.

“The Bashkir political nation, a new republic ethnicity, will proceed along the path of the realization of the inalienable right of the Bashkir nation to self-determination and the building of the Fourth Republic … and in this we will be limited only by another holy principle, the principle of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

"Bashkirs have never left Russia; but now, Russia itself has left us … the poverty of the peoples of Russia is the logical end of the policy of these state bankrupts.”

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