Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Bashkirs Upset by Power of Tatar Lobby in Moscow, Want Center to Redress the Balance

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 10 – Tatarstan has a large and powerful lobby in Moscow which has allowed it to feel that it can dictate to its neighbor Bashkortostan. Bashkirs are angry, and one of their number, Arsen Shayakhmetov says that they expect Moscow to be aware of this imbalance and take steps to “preserve the balance among nationalities in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan.

            The political scientist who works at the Bashkir Academy for State Service and Administration says that regional media, many controlled by regional governments, seeks to “form its own information agenda” on the basis of what it believes is in its interest and what Moscow will allow before intervening (regnum.ru/news/society/3264612.html).

            Tatarstan, Shayakhmetov says, has a large and powerful lobby which adds to its economic advantages and three experts he surveyed, political scientists Nikolay Yevdokimov, Dmitry Mikhailichenko, and Mikhail Neyzhmakov, say that the fact Ufa does not have one leaves it at a significant disadvantage.

            Both republics have permanent representations in Moscow which seek to promote republic interests in the Russian capital. (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/01/non-russian-republic-embassies-in.html.) But Tatarstan has installed many of its own former officials in key Moscow positions; and Bashkortostan has not.

            Because the intensification of conflicts between these two Turkic republics in the Middle Volga, Shayakhmetov suggests, the Russian government needs to intervene to redress the balance or face the prospect that this conflict will spiral out of control, with the two exploiting “the narcissism of small differences” between them into something much larger.

            The Ufa scholar does not specify just how countering what he and his fellow experts label the Tatarstan “lobby” might be done, but his article in the prominent Moscow outlet Regnum is clearly part of an effort to enlist Russian support in reining in Kazan and giving Ufa a more prominent place in the sun

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