Staunton, May 2 – Pan-Turkism is not a threat to Russia today, but it is a “latent” one that could threaten Moscow if Russia weakens or if Turkey is allowed to expand its activities inside the Russian Federation, according to Rais Suleymanov, a researcher at Moscow’s Institute of National Strategy.
Suleymanov, who has become notorious for his attacks against Muslims in Russia and who is thought by some to be linked to the Russian intelligence services, makes these arguments in a lengthy interview with Yana Amelina of the Caucasus Geo-Political Club (kavkazgeoclub.ru/content/blesk-i-nishcheta-sovremennogo-pantyurkizma-chast-1 and kavkazgeoclub.ru/content/blesk-i-nishcheta-sovremennogo-pantyurkizma-chast-2).
He says that Moscow’s best defense against Pan-Turkism is to keep the country as strong as possible, and he notes that the prospects for Pan-Turkism even in times of trouble are limited because of ethnic and religious conflicts within the Turkic world, conflicts he implied Moscow should be attentive to and play up.
“I doubt that anyone could give an exact or even an approximate number of Pan-Turkists in Russia,” Suleymanov continues. “Objectively, this is a small group of people: even those pubic unions in the ideology of which Pan-Turkism is reflected are marginal groups” consisting of only a dozen or so, often aging activists.
Moreover, he says, these groups “do not have significant stable financing or even unofficial government support, and therefore their influence on social-political life in the regions is insignificant. But the small size of these groups is compensated for y their public activity and the existence of sympathizers who aren’t formally in the ranks of these groups.”
The Azatlyk Union of Tatar Youth puts out a monthly newspaper with a print run of 5,000 copies and distributes this freely. What that means, Suleymanov continues, is that even if someone isn’t a part of the group, he may be a sympathizer who will support it when the time comes.
Moscow must keep in mind, he concludes, that “any even the smallest organization may be strong because of its ideology,” and it is in this regard that “the potential threat from Pan-Turkish consists.”