Sunday, May 8, 2022

Non-Russians Must Move from Opposition to Putin’s War to Pursuit of Independence from Moscow, Gabbasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 27 – Ever more Bashkirs are asking why their fathers, brothers and sons must fight in Putin’s war in Ukraine, Ruslan Gabbasov says; but they need to ask two related questions – Why is our nation ruled from Moscow? – and How can we pursue the independence we deserve?

            The leader of the Bashkir National Political Center who now lives in emigration in Lithuania because of his outspoken criticism of the Putin regime says that up to now many Baskirs who hear the expression “Free Bashkortostan” recoil in horror rather than seeing independence as their salvation (

            Gabbasov says that some Bashkirs accuse him of betraying “the motherland” and say that an independent Bashkortostan surrounded by Russia is “a utopia” that will never survive and therefore Bashkirs must continue to live within Russia. But that misses the point: Bashkortostan will become independent when Russia ceases to exist.

            Many Bashkirs mistakenly believe that an independent Bashkortostan would be surrounded by a united and indivisible Russia and thus would quickly be reduced to the status of Somalia. They do not understand that the Bashkortostan of the future will be surrounded not be a single Russia but by a multitude of independent states in its place.

            In that future, there won’t be “a united Russia, there won’t be a Putin and his bands, and  there won’t be a single colonial empire anymore,” Gabbasov says. Once Bashkorts recognize that reality, they will see that freedom and independence are the best possible choices and ones they can achieve on their own and in alliance with other regions and republics.

            But any such union must be built not on the basis of agreement between them and the capital of the new country but rather on the basis of multiple agreements with the regions and republics. The center in this new world will be defined by the regions and the republics rather than the other way around.

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