Staunton, Nov. 6 – Those in control today often seek to gain control of the past in order to ensure their control of the future. The Soviets centralized archives so as to deprive non-Russians of the possibility of studying their history and learning things that Moscow didn’t want them to (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/12/stalins-centralization-of-archives.html).
But now in Tatarstan, the authorities have taken a completely unjustified step to isolate that republic’s archives from the people who study Tatar history, Ilnar Garifullin says, an action that threatens to kill the field of local and regional history there and thus threaten the survival of Tatar identity (idelreal.org/a/31541359.html).
The collections and the publication of the Tatarstan State Archive but not its administration has been moved out of the city so that the buildings it had been occupying can be transferred to other, more politically well-connected agencies, a move that may seem to some like mere housekeeping but one with serious consequences, the political commentator says.
The move has been going on since last summer. During it, the archive has been closed and many of its workers have lost their posts. The new location has a reading room that will hold only 12 people after covid and only five or six people now. But what is worse is that the facility is located far from any regular bus lines and thus is inaccessible to researchers.
The powers that be promise to remedy all this, although past practice suggests that there is little reason to believe they will do so soon or even ever; but the location alone will put a damper on work by historians and others interested in the history and even recent development of Tatarstan, Garifullin says.
What this means is that the archives have been taken away from the people and professional historians and will be readily accessible only to those in power, who will also benefit by exploiting the buildings the archives had occupied near the center of the republic capital. But the benefits they receive will be far outweighed by the costs to Tatarstan and Tatars.