Staunton, Feb. 1 – When Kazakh poet and linguist Olzhas Suleimenov published his Az i Ya book in 1975 about the Turkic roots of the Russian primary chronicle The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, he was savaged in Moscow for what many there saw as a sacrilegious attack on Russian history.
Many feared that he would suffer the fate of other dissidents and be imprisoned or worse, but he was saved by the intervention of then Kazakhstan CPSU First Secretary Dinmuhammad Kunayev. That kept him free to continue to write, but it did not save his book from confiscation or continued opprobrium.
Today, nearly a half century later, some Russians are re-examining their earlier views about Suleimenov and Az i Ya. Instead of seeing it as an anti-Russian and pro-Turkish tract, they are arguing that in fact his book highlights the close ties of the Russian and Kazakh nations and thus is a bulwark against the spread of pan-Turkish across Central Asia.
Valery Badov, a frequent commentator for Moskovsky komsomolets, makes that argument in a recent article that merits attention because it highlights how worried Moscow is about pan-Turkism and how willing some are to find new allies including Suleimenov to oppose it (mk.ru/social/2022/02/01/az-i-ya-olzhasa-suleymenova-protiv-velikogo-turana-erdogana.html