Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Fate of Russian Empire Depends on What Happens in the Middle Volga, Gabbasov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 21 – Moscow could give up the North Caucasus, Tyva, Sakha and Buryatia and still remain an empire, Ruslan Gabbasov says; but it cannot allow the six republics of the Middle Volga to leave because their departure would cut Russia in two and make its continued existence as an empire impossible.

            Because that is so, the émigré Bashkir nationalist leader says, Moscow might be prepared to allow the periphery to leave but it will fight to the end to prevent the six republics of the Middle Volga – Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Mordvinia, Mari El, Udmurtia, and Chuvashia (

            Thus, collectively, they and not any of the others are “the key to the demise of the empire,” Gabbasov says. Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, the two Muslim Turkic republics, are the avantgarde in this regard as they already have “strong national movements and their own elites,” things that make them “strong players.”

            “Of the rest of these national republics, only the Erzya movement from Mordvinia has distinguished itself, but it is strong in the main only abroad. The remaining three republics are very passive.” The Chuvash movement had been strong a decade ago, but it has faded; and the movements in the Finno-Ugric republics despite support from Finland and Estonia remain small.

According to Gabbasov, “Western politicians who are struggling with Russia and really want its defeat and complete liquidation as an empire must focus carefully on these six republics,” helping national movements which already exist and bringing those which are still sleeping into full readiness.

“If they are able to do this” and only if they are “will Russia come to an end,” the activist concludes, usefully if somewhat self-interestedly pointing to the importance of a portion of Russia that seldom if ever gets the attention in the West that the North Caucasus, Tyva and Buryatia do.

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