Saturday, February 3, 2024

Russia’s Buddhist Nations Want Ulan Bator to Adopt Compatriots Law to Make It Easier for Them to Move to Mongolia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 31 – Activists from the three largest Buddhist nations in the Russian Federation – Buryats, Kalmyks and Tuvins – the first two of which speak languages closely related to Mongolians but the third of which speaks a Turkic language – are petitioning Ulan Bator to adopt a compatriots law and “Mongol card” to make it easier for them to move there.

            The initiative, which was launched last fall by the United Mongols Development Foundation headed by Kalmyk Dzhangar Tyurbeyev, has collected several thousand signatures on two platforms (друзья-поддержите-внесение-законопроекта-монгол-үндэстthний-карт-в-великий-хурал-монголии  and

            The petition calls on Ulan Bator to introduce a new law “which would allow representatives of Mongol-speaking and other related peoples from countries of the post-Soviet space to receive documents that officially declare them to be attached to the Mongol nation” (

            The majority of several thousand citizens of the Russian Federation who have moved to Mongolia since Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine are Buryats, Kalmyks and Tuvans and unlike ethnic Russians there are interested in remaining there rather than moving on to other countries (

            According to Vlada Baranova, a socio-linguist at St. Petersburg’s Higher School of Economics research center, Moscow views the Buryats and Kalmyks as Mongol speakers but Ulan Bator views them as “part of a single Mongolian nation,” a position many of the two nations welcome. 

            The three Russian Buddhist nationalities also have welcomed the enthusiastic support Mongol leaders have given them in their opposition to Putin’s war and have offered them various supports to make moves there easier. But Ulan Bator has not adopted a Mongol card of the kind that these peoples want.

            The reason for that are two-fold. On the one hand, if such an option were available, there would likely be a massive influx of Mongols from China’s Inner Mongolia, a migration so large that it might threaten the capacity of the Mongolian state to cope with and would certainly destabilize its relations with Beijing.

            And on the other, Moscow almost certainly would see the adoption of such a law as Mongolian encouragement of secession among three nationalities that are already unhappy with the treatment they receive from the Russians and would lead to a deterioration of ties between Russia and Mongolia.

            But the fact that Buryats, Kalmyks and Tuvans are pushing for this shows that they are interested in being part of the Mongol world far more than they are being included often against their expressed wishes in the Russian one as defined by Putin and Moscow. 

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