Friday, May 29, 2020

Under Pressure from Moscow, Kazan Downgrading Khakimov’s Transformational History Institute

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – The Marjani Institute of History in Kazan, invariably linked to its leader Rafael Khakimov since its founding by President Mintimir Shaymiyev in 1996, is being downgraded and thus effectively destroyed in the worst Muscovite tradition by being combined with the Institute of Archaeology.

            Tatarstan’s archaeologists are world-class, but the Institute of History under Khakimov had been a transformational one, not only promoting the study of historical questions that the Soviets had blocked but also making Kazan an international center for the study of federalism as institute scholars published on that subject and linked up with scholars around the world.

            Yesterday, Khakimov told Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkir Service that he had not been told that his institute would be treated in this way but had seen documents that suggested the republic leaders want to take tighter control of the institute by combining it with the archaeologists and subjecting them to tighter bureaucratic control (

            Representatives of the Presidential Administration and the Academy of Sciences said discussions continue over what to do but that no final decision has been made ( But it is clear that for a long time Kazan and even more Moscow has been unhappy with the institute’s political line and foreign contacts.

            The contract of Khakimov as director of the Institute runs out soon, and he had announced earlier this year that he would not seek a reappointment but instead become its academic leader, a change that in and of itself invited speculation about further changes at and to the Institute (

                Exactly how this will play out remains uncertain, but it is already clear that the institute’s role as one of the places where the ideology of the Tatar nation has been developed and promoted is likely to be reduced or eliminated altogether -- and that this is happening because Kazan is unwilling to stand up to Moscow which has never been happy with Khakimov.

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