Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tatarstan Failed to Fight for Treaty Extension and Now Moscow will Target Tatar Language, Kazan Professor Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – It is clear that the Kremlin has no intention of extending the power-sharing agreement between Moscow and Kazan but instead will take its lapse as an occasion to launch a broad new attack on the Tatar language and culture, according to Midkhat Farukshin.

            But it is also clear that the Tatarstan elite and the Tatar population are to blame for this state of affairs because they did not use the treaty when it did exist to create specific legal arrangements and because they didn’t fight for its extension lest they anger Moscow, the Kazan professor says (

            During the ten years that the first extension of the treaty was in force, Kazan did not insist that Russia ratify the accord and still worse did not use the opportunity to make specific institutional arrangements limiting themselves to a few symbols and many generalities, the Kazan philosopher argues.

            As a result, he continues, “there is not one legal norm by which Tatarstan could be considered independent of Russia and not subordinate to Russian law, at least from the point of view of international law,” Farukshin says, adding that “it is an historic fact that there is no independence.”

            It was “a big mistake” that the Tatarstan authorities did not say anything about the specific delimitation of authorities over that decade. “There was not a single proposal, and as a result, things did not move forward.” Kazan could have demanded control over its educational system and especially over languages in the schools, but in fact it didn’t do so.

            The professor agrees with his interlocutor that “the Tatarstan authorities did not try particularly hard to achieve the extension of the treaty.” As he points out, “there were no open declarations” about that, with the State Council talking only about the need to create a join commission “without a single word about the treaty.”

            And the World Congress of Tatars, which might have been expected to press Moscow on this issue, in fact behaved “very cautiously” since apparently Moscow had already signaled that it wouldn’t tolerate anything else.  Tatars should have spoken openly and made demands because “silence is a mark of agreement.”

            Unfortunately, now that the treaty has lapsed, there is little chance that Kazan will do anything to revive it.  “The authorities of the republic will remain quiet; they won’t take any steps,” Farukshin says, given that at present they don’t have any means to put pressure on the federal center.

            A decade ago, “the attack of the federal center on the republic began;” now, it will intensify and be directed against the Tatar language.  The Kazan elites aren’t fighting this as they should, he suggests, and “the people is also neutral” because the 2007 treaty “didn’t take its interests into consideration and so the people are indifferent.”

Russian ‘World’ Different in Kind from English, Spanish or French ‘Worlds,’ Feldman Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – Moscow writers, most prominently Academician Valery Tishkov, routinely suggest that “the Russian world” the Kremlin talks about is analogous to “’the worlds’ of the European colonial powers which are spheres of cultural influence on the planetary civilization,” Mikhail Feldman says.

            But that is a fundamental mistake, he continues, not only because “’the worlds’ of the English, the Spanish, the Dutch and other European imperialists were born only with the collapse of their colonial empires” but also because the Russian “world” came into existence alongside the empire and was/is based on military conquest and authoritarian rule.

            “It is no accident,” the Russian commentator writes on the AfterEmpire portal today, that the person usually given credit for the term in the Russian case was tsarist General Mikhail Chernyayev who led the forces that brutally seized Tashkent in 1865 and the culturally alien  peoples around it (

                “Even today,” Feldman continues, “this ‘world’ is associated not with cultural expansion but with soldiers without identifying badges, with the downing of the Boeing, and with the arrest of civic activists who want to return to their native city the historic name of Koenigsberg” – in short with military power not cultural influence.

            One Moscow commentator has suggested that “Russians will cease to exist in the form in which they have existed for centuries if there is no Empire,” an argument that implies that “Russians are incapable of self-organization” and can exist only under a powerful and paternalistic Russian state.

              This might seem “logical,” Feldman says, “if one considered Russians exclusively as coming from ‘the nucleus’ of the empire … but if there is a metropolitan center, this means that there are colonies. And in ‘the Russian world’ are not only the North Caucasus or the recently seized Crimea.”

            It is “all of us: Tambov, Voronezh, Veliky and Nizhny Novgorod … the entire country from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, the source of resources for the imperial (or to put it in a politically correct way, the federal) center, comfortably situated in the borders of the Moscow Ring Road.”

            A Russian world analogous to those of the Western imperial powers could come into existence only if the Russian empire disintegrates, Feldman argues. Then and only then could there be a Russian “world” like the European ones that include the US, Canada, Brazil or Australia.

Central Asian Militaries More Capable than Many Think, Kazakhstan Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – Many in Moscow and the West dismiss the military forces of the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries, but they are wrong to do so, according to Marat Shibtov, a military affairs specialist at Alma-Ata’s Center for Military-Strategic Research, who says that in most cases, they have far greater defense capabilities than observers think.

            In a major article on the Regnum news portal today, he marshals an impressive array of data about the size of forces, their armaments, government military spending, and combat experience ( in order to dispel the image the militaries of this region have and to offer four conclusions:

·         “Despite the existing stereotypes, the armed forces of the countries of the region are not badly armed and have sufficient numbers for current tasks.”

·         “The armed forces of the countries of the region carefully follow current trends in armaments and tactics which are being manifest in present-day local wars.”

·         “Considering that the main danger is the penetration on the territories of the countries there of groups of militants numbering up to approximately 300 people, they have completely sufficient military potential to respond adequately.”

·        “The possible shortage of professionalism can be completely compensated by the firepower of artillery and aviation that even in many population points like Iraq’s Mosul leads to victory.”