Sunday, August 29, 2021

In Tatarstan, Tatar Leaders have Emerged from Villages; Russian Ones Almost Only from Cities, Khakimov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 28 – In the second part of his memoirs now being serialized by Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, Rafael Khakimov, historian and long-time political advisor to Mintimir Shaymiyev, says that the nature of Tatar villages is such that those who are able to become leaders there often go on to become leaders at the republic level or higher.

            That makes them different from Russians who seldom acquire those kind of leadership skills in their villages – the nature of life there is so different – but rather gain political skills once their parents or those move to the cities. As a result of this, Tatars who have become leaders often spring from agricultural schools, while Russians come via universities.

            And this has another consequence: Tatars who are graduates of Kazan State University are often left “on the sidelines” of political life in Tatarstan whereas Russians from there are able to make political careers. (For this segment, see; for the first, see

            Most of Khakimov’s attention in this segment is devoted to his father, who was a distinguished poet, and his mother, who was the daughter of de-kulakized peasants whose father died while working on the White Sea canal. But in addition to his stress on the importance of village life in Tatar politics, he makes another observation that deserves wider attention.

            Khakimov says that the Kazan Institute of History which he founded and led for many years and remains attached to is located in a former transit prison from tsarist times. In the office next to his, he recalls, Vladimir Lenin was once confined; and in others, the prisoners included Velimir Khlebnikov and various Tatar poets.

            “In such a building,” the historian continues, “you feel a particular responsibility for the millennium-long history of the Tatars.”

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