Sunday, August 4, 2019

Only Real Federalism Can Save Russia from Disintegration, Jailed Bashkir Politician Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 1 – Ayrat Dilmukhametov, a Bashkir opposition politician who has been in jail since March on charges that he has called into question Russia’s territorial integrity and thus blocked from running for republic head, says that only way to prevent the country from coming apart is genuine federalism based on a new treaty among the federal subjects.

            In a letter from his cell to the IdelReal portal that effectively constitutes his political program, the Bashkir political figure outlines why he has reached that conclusion and describes how federalism would allow his Middle Volga republic to escape its current economic problems and become a flourishing place once again (

            The reason that Russia and its component parts, including Bashkortostan, is in such difficulty, Dilmukhametov says, is its current hyper-centralized political and economic system which does not give free rein to the peoples to develop on their own and instead seeks to maximize the wealth of central elite by stealing from the population.

            To overcome this, he continues, federalism must be recreated “with the signing of a new federal treaty, the conclusion of a treaty between the new and genuine federal center and each subject of the federation that will delimit the powers of each” rather than as now allowing the center to do whatever it wants.

            He suggests that among the provisions of such treaties would be the restoration of the division of income between the center and the regions that existed in 1992, the exclusion of exporting abroad of the country’s wealth, and the reinvestment in each region and republic of the money it makes.

            Dilmukhametov also proposes the creation of “a Bashkir civic nation, which will consist of the various ethnic groups living in the republic.” While the Bashkir nation is the state-forming people, representatives of all others must have legal protections so that they will not be subject to any discrimination and will enjoy the right of self-determination.

            That arrangement will be possible, he argues, only if the citizens of Bashkortostan and other regions and republics recover the right to elect their own leaders rather than be subject to the whims of “mankurts” sent from Moscow who are quite prepared to play one ethnic group off against another in order to keep the regions weak and thus the center strong.

            According to Dilmuukhametov, “only real federalism and democracy will save Russia from disintegration and thus these measures are in the interest not only of Bashkortostan but of Russia as a whole.”

            “Historically Russia has been built as a super-centralized, authoritarian state, but today only full-blown federalism and democracy will defend it from disintegration and separatism. And today … with the absolute support of the overwhelming majority of the people of Bashkortostan, we again offer toRussia the path of freedom, equality, peace and progress.”

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