Thursday, February 15, 2024

Tatars, Present at Founding of St. Petersburg, Eventually Formed 90 Percent of City’s Muslims Later but Now are Increasingly Inactive, Tagirdzhanova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 10 – The history of the Tatars in St. Petersburg has attracted relatively little attention despite the fact that they were present at the founding of the northern capital and once formed as much as 90 percent of that city’s Muslim population, Almira Tagirdzhanova says, in part because that community has become ever less active in recent years.

            A former tour guide and the author of six books on the Muslims of St. Petersburg, Tagirdzhanova, now a pensioner, says that that city’s first Tatars were members of Russian military units and not builders as many now think (

            She says she has done what she can to attract the attention of St. Petersburgers and visitors to the city but fears that in the current environment, such “enlightenment efforts” are not nearly as popular as they were in the last years of the Soviet period and in the first decades of post-Soviet Russia.

            Nevertheless, she says, her books show that the Tatars and other Muslim nations played a prominent role in the city, especially among its intellectuals, and hopes that Tatarstan will devote more attention to this community just as it has already done to the larger and more famous Tatar diaspora in Moscow.

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