Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Bashkir Activist Seeks Support from Free Russia Forum for a Revived Federation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 25 – Ayrat Dilmukhametov, a Bashkir activist who has been charged with separatism for urging the establishment of a revived federation formed by the regions and republics of the Russian Federation and from which they would be free to leave if Moscow violated its terms, is calling on the Free Russia Forum to support his ideas.

            Russian officials continue to add to the charges they have brought against Dilmukhametov (sobkorr.org/news/5DB6AECAAB582.html), an obvious indication of their fears of any discussion of genuine federalism, according to regionalist commentator Vadim Sidorov (region.expert/banned_federalism/).
            But now in a 12-minute Youtube address, the Bashkir activist has put another group on the spot, the Free Russia Forum, an assembly of émigré opponents of the Putin regime which has been meeting in Vilnius over the last several years, and most of whose members remain as Moscow-centric as the regime.

            (His speech can be found at youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=iQTy84i0Tdc.. For a discussion of the Bashkir activist’s ideas, many of which Dilmukhametov repeats in his Facebook presentation, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/effective-russian-federalism-and-strong.html.)

            The Forum, which will convene again in ten days, has had a complicated relationship with regionalist and federalist activists. While expressing support for federalism in principle, most participants have focused almost exclusively on political change in Moscow and from above rather than beyond the ring road and from below.

            There are signs that this pattern may be starting to change – see the discussion of Forum participant reactions to an appeal by the Tatarstan government in exile at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/06/free-russia-forum-delegates-comment-on.html – and federalists like Sidorov and Dilmukhametov hope that trend will continue. 

            Sidorov for his part suggests that people in Russia’s regions and republics will be watching the Forum’s response to Dilmukhametov closely to see if the Russian opposition is ready to move beyond Moscow and become a more active supporter of reginal movements and real federalism.  

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