Staunton, February 5 – Tensions between the unregistered social organization Bashkort and the Bashkir authorities have been high since the group was organized to defend the interests of the Bashkir nation. They have deteriorated since Radii Khabirov became republic head and especially over the issue of allowing mining at a site sacred to the Bashkirs.
In response, the republic government has repeatedly warned the group that it is engaging in extremist activities and now has taken the formal step of going to court and seeking to have the entire nationalist movement declared extremist and be banned under Russian criminal law (kommersant.ru/doc/4242860).
What apparently triggered this move by the authorities is the announcement by Bashkort that it plans to organize a flash mob on February 23 to protest the government’s plan to allow for soda mining alongside the Kushtau mountain. An earlier protest there, on January 4, attracted nearly 1,000 people; and more were expected this time around.
If the courts declare the organization extremist, its members say that they will continue to pursue the same goals albeit perhaps under a different name. But Aleksandr Verkhovsky, the director of the SOVA information-analytic center, warns that this could lead to the criminal prosecution of the individuals involved.
The organization has adopted a tough line (m.vk.com/wall-70958470_341795 in Bashkir; idelreal.org/a/30421147.html in Russian), and it has the support of the Free Idel Ural movement (idel-ural.org/archives/свободный-идель-урал-требует-от-мос/). And that confluence suggests that there may very well be an explosion of nationalist activity there later this month.