ISSN 2330-717X

Russian Activists In Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, And Buryatia Call For Abolishing Non-Russian Republics – OpEd


Encouraged by Vladimir Putin’s drive to end obligatory instruction in non-Russian languages in the republics, Russian nationalist activists in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Buryatia are now pressing for the abolition of the non-Russian republics whose existence, they say, acts to “proliferate nationalism.”

Their call takes the form of an open letter to the Duma which is considering a law banning any required study of non-Russian languages as well as to the Russian ministry of education. They present themselves as speaking for themselves and their fellow Russians in the republics, but there is a more ominous possibility.

What their call may represent is the opening salvo in a Kremlin campaign to do away with the republics, something Putin has indicated he favors, by highlighting support within the republics for that idea and thus setting the stage for referendums on the matter as the Russian constitution and laws require.

If that is the case, it will be not only language over which Russians and non-Russians will be fighting in the coming months but also the existence of the non-Russian republics which form a key element of what is left of federalism in Russia and whose abolition would open the way to an even more centralized unitary state.

The authors of the appeal include Mikhail Shcheglov, head of the Society of Russian Culture of Tatarstan, Eduard Nosov of the Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Russian-Speaking Parents and Students in Tatarstan, Viktor Afanasyev of the Union of Ethnic Russians of Bashkortostan, and I. Gneusheva of the Movement for the Voluntary Study of Buryat.

Not surprisingly, they focus on arguments in favor of making the study of non-Russian languages entirely voluntary while keeping Russian and Russian literature as compulsory (противники-обязательных-уроков-родного-языка-из-казани-уфы-и-улан-удэ-предложили-ликвидировать-национальные-республики-россии/29214866.html).

But in the key passage, these Russian nationalists call for Moscow to take up the issue of the liquidation of the non-Russian republics within Russia: Non-Russians shouldn’t have more rights than the ethnic Russian majority does, and the latter has no special status at all. Hence, the non-Russians must lose their status so everyone will be equal.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

3 thoughts on “Russian Activists In Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, And Buryatia Call For Abolishing Non-Russian Republics – OpEd

  • May 10, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Russia has about 100 different “nationalities” as does the U.S. residing in their countries. English is for America , Russian for Russia. Good article Paul.

    • May 28, 2018 at 11:53 am

      This is both a stupid and an incorrect comment.

      Firstly, the US has no official language and the use of spanish is widespread, mostly in the south.

      Furthermore, in the Indian Nation territories, the use of indian languages, though mostly gone, is encouraged and there are signs of revival.

  • June 2, 2018 at 1:16 am

    They should be careful of what they wish for…plenty of separatists in the northern Caucasus, and crooked foreign intelligence agencies like those who created ISIS, that would love to exploit the strife this creates. Brian Ghilliotti


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