Staunton, Sept. 30 – One indication of the seriousness of those activists pursuing the independence of even non-Russian republics is that they are now talking about the borders their lands should have once they succeed in gaining independence. What is striking is that some are prepared to give up territory to exchange for other land to make such aspirations more realistic.
A key example of this involved Todar Baktemir, a Bashkir activist who is part of the spreading de-colonization movement in the Middle Volga. He says Bashkirs must be prepared to give up some of the lands now within the borders of their Moscow-delimited republic to achieve two goals (t.me/astrakhanistan/5678).
First, he argues, Bashkirs should give up territories in which Bashkirs are a minority or soon will be to ensure that their future nation state will be more heavily Bashkir than would otherwise be the case. And second, he continues, they must do so to have something to exchange with Russians to get back historically Bashkir lands that the Soviets took from them.
Those lands are mostly but not exclusively in what is now Orenburg Oblast, an area between Bashkortostan and Kazakhstan and known to activists and supporters as the Orenburg corridor. If that area were to be returned to the Bashkirs, both they and the peoples of the Middle Volga would have an external border and have greater prospects for independence.
(For background on this corridor and about Moscow’s alarm concerning Ukrainian and American interest in it, see https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2023/02/tatars-and-bashkirs-must-recover.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/10/new-research-highlights-past-tatar.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/06/russian-census-results-reopening.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/01/ukrainian-interest-in-orenburg-corridor.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/03/moscow-analyst-denounces-kazakh.html, https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/11/orenburg-corridor-threatens-russia-more.html and https://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/idel-ural-activists-call-on.html.)
How much support Bektemir’s proposal has is unknown. (For criticism of his ideas, see the writings of Ruslan Gabbasov, a Bashkir activist now living in Lithuanian exile (t.me/ruslan_gabbasov/8186). But their appearance is suggestive of the greater independence non-Russians have in their thinking than Russians do (idelreal.org/a/32612665.html).