Staunton, Dec. 5 – Ruslan Gabbasov, a Bashkir activist who is seeking political asylum in Lithuania, says that independent ethnic activists are being persecuted across Russia and that many of them are leaving to avoid prison. But in the case of those from Turkic republics like his own, they are heading not to culturally similar Turkey but to Europe.
The reason for that, the leader of the Bashkort movement says, is that Turkey is tired of taking in so many refugees and is thus likely to expel and return to Russia activists who show no signs of ending their activities even when they are abroad. Consequently, Europe, where that is less likely, is a better refuge than Turkey (idelreal.org/a/31597232.html).
Gabbasov himself went first to Turkey but then quickly moved on to Lithuania because he wanted to continue his ethnic activism from abroad and feared that Ankara would send him back where he would beyond any doubt end in prison or even worse. EU countries generally won’t do that.
This is a remarkable change from the past when nationalists from the Turkic republics of the USSR or more recently from the Russian Federation saw Turkey as their favored destination; and the fact that they no longer do will have a negative impact on how not just activists but the entire population views Ankara and its much-ballyhooed “Turkish world.”