Saturday, February 29, 2020

Imprisoned Bashkir Activist Says National Movements Must Be Part of the Russian Opposition

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 24 – Ayrat Dilmukhametov, a Bashkir activist now in prison awaiting trial for his promotion of a new federal system in which Russian regions would gain the rights of republics and the non-Russian republics would promote civic identities, says the national movements in the country must be part of the Russian opposition.

            That is no easy task, he says, because the three hundred years of Russian imperial rule has affected the attitudes of many in the opposition; but non-Russians have no choice because they cannot fail to extent to Russians the right of self-determination that they insist upon for themselves (

            Interviewed by Vadim Shtepa of the Region.Expert portal, Dilmukhametov says that the case against him is so absurd and obscurantist that it is his impression that even many of his jailors and the prosecutors have sympathy for him although they can’t express this because of fears of retribution from those higher up.

            He argues that the reasons repression is being visited upon him and others is that “the ideas which I am bringing to the fore, especially about a new and treaty-based federalism, are both true and timely” and that the people, the true source of power in Russia, increasingly recognize that their rights are being taken away and will seek to take them back.

            In this struggle, Dilmukhametov continues, “a real national movement must be part of het opposition.” If it isn’t, that will only weaken both and thus work to the benefit of the powers that be.  To achieve unity, the non-Russians must acknowledge that the Russians have the same rights that the non-Russians do.

            Moreover, in many cases, the non-Russians as separate nations are nonetheless “part of Russian civilization.” The Bashkirs are one of those, he argues.  If there is mutual respect, there won’t be any calls for independence; and both sides will find that they are stronger together than they would be apart.

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