The issue is not debated at the World Congress of Tatars, controlled by the Moscow regime. The figure of Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, one of the founding fathers of modern Tatarstan, a victim of Stalinist repression, lives on. Most Tatars oppose Putin’s neo-imperial ideology.
Moscow () – Putin’s war in Ukraine affects many young Tatars: they are sent to fight and an impressive number of casualties return home almost in secret. All this is causing a strong resurgence of separatism, and many Tatars would like to break relations with the Russian Federation.
These days celebrates its 30th anniversary the World Congress of Tatars, an institution created after the end of the Soviet regime in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. And the meeting takes place at the most critical moment in recent times.
As the political scientist Ruslan Akhsin, who lives in Kazan, observes, “today, the Tatar nation is very divided: one part, the one most linked to the power structures, supports Moscow’s aggression against kyiv, but the majority opposes the current regime. “. The Congress that is currently being held adheres to the slogans of the parties putinists, like United Russia or the communists of the KPRF, and endorses the slogans of war. They do not listen to the voices of the seven million Tatars of Russia and the world.
The Tartar world is officially assimilated to the “Russian world”, being also the historical evocation of the resurgence of Holy Russia against the medieval Asian invaders. The local intelligentsia, and in general the part of the population most sensitive to autonomist demands, has long since emigrated abroad – most of them fled in recent months – and the World Congress is de facto controlled by Moscow. In its origins, the Congress was conceived as a transnational body, to organize the Tatar diaspora and cultivate ties with its original land.
The organizers excluded from the agenda of the meeting sensitive issues such as the use and teaching of the Tatar language, as well as any other dimension of the social and cultural development of the Tatar people. The last congress had been held five years ago, when an “epochal turning point” was still expected to be achieved after 25 years of relative autonomy in Russia’s recent history. However, as can be seen today, he only produced front programs, frustrating the expectations of the Tatar people.
At that time there was a resurgence of the Council of the “Milli shura”, the organization of Muslim Tatars founded 100 years earlier in Petrograd, in May 1917, shortly after the February revolution and then suppressed by the Bolsheviks. This organization aims to consolidate the idea of a world union of the Tatar people. Today we return to those days, and commemorate one of the founding fathers of modern Tatarstan: Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, born 130 years ago, but a victim of Stalinist repression.
Galiev was a politician and leader much loved by the people and had supported the project of a Tatar nation in every way, including his support in the power struggles of the first decades of the Soviet Union. He had managed to get the Communist Party to respect Uralic Islamism in a certain way, although he had to synthesize it with the ideals of socialism and Bolshevism and fight against colonialism and “Great-Russian chauvinism”. Lenin also supported this position in the 1920s, but once Stalin took power, he proceeded to “normalize” the situation.
Galiev contributed to the foundation of the University of the Peoples of the East, of which he was the most popular professor. His political and cultural legacy extended beyond the Ural region, to the point that a portrait of him hung on the wall of the leader of the Egyptian revolution Hamal Abdel Nasser, and also of the Algerian Ahmed Ben Ali. Although he was marginalized in his homeland, memory of him is cultivated in various Arab countries and Turkey and even new books about him are regularly published.
Echoes of the past are felt today among the Tatars of Kazan, Ufa and various parts of the world, with the defense of the Muslim religion and national identity. And this transcends the formal congresses, drugged by the neo-imperial ideology of Moscow. Moreover, the same forcings that caused the Ukrainian tragedy are giving rise to other new interpretations of history – both in kyiv and in Tatarstan – and their effects promise to last for a long time.