Staunton, Sept. 23 – Five hundred Tatar activists from across the Russian Federation met in Kazan to consider what they need to do to limit the decline in the size of the Tatar nation likely to be recorded in the upcoming all-Russian census. Among their proposals: calling for parents in mixed marriages to identify at least one of their children as a Tatar.
According to participants, who included intellectuals, entertainers and activists, mixed marriages, the common educational examination, and pressure from non-Tatar regional officials are all exercising downward pressure on the number of Tatars recorded outside of Tatarstan (business-gazeta.ru/article/523331).
Participants in the meeting agreed they could do little about the fact that Tatar parents are sending their children to Russian-language schools in order to prepare for the common state examinations which are given only in Russian, but they were insistent that they could take other steps that might slow the declining number of people identifying as Tatars outside of Tatarstan.
(A majority of Tatars in the Russian Federation live outside the Republic of Tatarstan, and consequently, declines in their number because of assimilation have a disproportionate influence on the self-esteem and standing of the republic as well given that Kazan views itself as the leader of all Tatars in the country.)
Participants at the Kazan meeting say they favor closely monitoring efforts by the leaders of other federal units to get Tatars to reidentify as Russians or at least as members of the titular nationality where they live, calling out such efforts and thus reducing the likelihood that Tatars will be seduced or pressured into making a change.
But they also want to address the impact of mixed marriages on the census enumeration of children. Ever more Tatars are marrying members of other nations, most often ethnic Russians; and all too often, speakers at the meeting say, those who do identify their children and sometimes themselves exclusively as Russians.
However, if Tatars in such marriages can be convinced that they should not reidentify themselves as Russians and that they should identify at least half of their children as Tatars, that would make a big difference in the enumeration. The census starts in a month, and the activists say they will do what they can to promote such decisions.