Saturday, January 29, 2022

Greater Turan will Never Include ‘Northern Turks,’ Barashkova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 9 – Russians are still reacting with horror to the map of the Turkic world Turkish President Recep Taiyip Erdogan was recently shown standing in front of. It shows a Turkic world consisting of much of the Caucasus, nearly all of Central Asia, and a large swath of Russia extending to Sakha, a republic larger than all the EU countries taken together.

            Varya Barashkova, a Russian who wrote a well-received book about the Trans-Siberian railway four years ago and who blogs under the screen name “Khen Shira,” says that those who take Erdogan’s map seriously forget something very important: “Turks are quite varied” (новаяевразия.рф/статья/348).

            “For example,” she says, “our Northern Turks are Yakuts. They neither historically nor civilizationally have anything in common with the Turks. The North is the North; the South is the south … and all or peoples living on the territory of the present-day Russian Federation and earlier in the Soviet Union long ago were firmly integrated with the Russian world.”

            But shortcomings in the work of the Russian Federation over the last 30 years, especially with young people, have provided an opening for Turkey and China. Those two outside powers can play up the increasingly degraded education of young people among these nations and the fact that these nations, thanks to ethnic Russian decline, dominate local populations.

            More than that, however, the degradation of education among Russians means that many of them feel superior to the Asiatic nationalities of the Russian Federation, something that the latter feel deeply offended by and that opens the way for outsiders to talk about peeling them away from the Russian world of which they are a part.

            The economic development of these peoples is not enough, Barashkova says. “An individual needs respect from others.” If he or she doesn’t receive that, no amount of money is enough to make up for its absence. Turkey and China can play on that and could succeed if Russia and Russians don’t change course.

            What is needed, the blogger continues, is an ideology that recognizes that reality and a new class of educated people who will return and help fill the void in Siberia and the Russian Far East left by the departure of their ancestors. But despite these problems, she remains an optimist at least for now.

            “We are a single Russian world, a single Eurasian world. The Yakuts, Altaians and Buryats are Russo-centric. Our union has been tested over centuries. [And] in terms of civilization, we are close to one another. All these peoples grew up in Russian culture and on the common idea of the construction of a new world.”

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