Staunton, Oct. 12 – Many serious people are calling on this or that group to identify as members of a particular nation in the upcoming Russian census. But some of the calls go well beyond the serious and involve attacks on ethnic groups that are certain to provoke the most negative of reactions.
One of most high profile cases of this involves a YouTube channel’s post which insists that the Tatars do not exist as a nationality and that anyone who identifies as such in the census or otherwise rather than as a Mishar, Bulgar, Bashkir or Nogay is violating the principles of Islam and will burn in hell (milliard.tatar/news/tataram-predlozili-mesto-v-adu-kak-perepis-naseleniya-reanimirovala-obvineniya-v-neverii-i-kto-za-etim-stoit-1012).
The author of the post who appears to be hiding behind a pseudonym that covers other channels as well quotes the Prophet Mohammed as saying that “anyone who ascribes himself to a people to which he does not belong will certainly take his place in hell.” Further, it insists that the Tatar nation was invented by Leon Trotsky during the Russian Civil War.
This clip has infuriated both Tatars and Muslims and especially Tatars who are Muslims. Various commentators have spoken out against this notion. Among them is journalist and politician Maksim Shevchenko who says that only fools could be convinced by this and urges Tatars who feel themselves to be Tatars to declare themselves as such.
According to him, this effort comes not from other Tatar-related groups but from Russians who want to do away with non-Russian republics and as part of that non-Russian nations. Dividing the latter into ever smaller groups will help the Russian sea dissolve them within its limits.
“In this situation,” Shevchenko says, “the Tatars like other peoples as well must stand their ground on the position of federalism. Representatives of the Tatar intelligentsia … must explain to other people” in their nation why this video clip is so wrong and so dangerous. And they must insist that “if you feel you are a Tatar and want to be one, then write that down.”
“Don’t listen to anyone who says not to,” their message must be. “This is extremely important.” Those putting out such messages “want to destroy Tatarstan and liquidate its subjective status. We must defend it, and this is how we must act” when such messages are circulating.