Friday, September 5, 2008

Window on Eurasia: Non-Russians Will Jointly Press Moscow for Self-Determination, Bashkirs Say

Paul Goble

Vienna, September 5 – In yet another echo of Moscow’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the leaders of Bashkortostan’s national movement say they will organize a joint protest by all non-Russian groups in the Russian Federation if Moscow continues to ignore Bashkortostan’s rights and demands.
The declaration, issued by the Kuk Bure movement which in the words of the Novyy region news agency “represents the interests of Bashkirs living on the territory of Bashkortostan and Russia,” makes a number of demands which that news outlet has provided an extensive summary (
The Kuk Bure appeal notes that “the Russian powers that be, while supporting the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia who have suffered from acts of Georgian aggression, is ignoring the elementary requirements of the Bashkir people,” which has been living “in one state with Moscow” for 450 years.
The Russian government, it continues, has “ceased to see and listen to [the Bashkirs] and appears to have no interest in the Bashkirs who Moscow apparently “assumes” have “no other way out” than to follow Moscow’s orders, however much those directives threaten the survival of the Bashkir people.
“The Kremlin does not give the Bashkirs the full opportunity to develop their language as the state language of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Having eliminated the regional component in education, Moscow has shown that it wants to transform the Bashkirs into a faceless crowd with families or clans.”
The appeal further notes that Kuk Bure on May 22 sent a similar appeal to Moscow in which it spoke of the Bashkir’s despair about the future of their language, culture and even the people itself. We were not listened to” then, it says, because the Kremlin simply wants to continue its policy of “zombifying” the Bashkirs “via television.”
“We consider it extremely unjust and dishonest that the federal powers that be, which every year take 80 percent of the natural wealth produced in Bashkortostan ignore the Bashkirs themselves and do not devote attention to the most important national-cultural requirements of the Bashkir people.”
Moscow’s approach, it continues, is “the policy of imperialist colonizers in relationship to an indigenous people.” And consequently, the appeal said, the time has come to ask federal officials in Moscow and in Bashkortostan itself “’what are you doing for the Bashkir people?!’” and to demand an answer.
“The Bashkirs do not have any other land” than their own, the appeal goes on to specify, and thus they do not want to give it up to those from Moscow who do not speak Bashkir, do not respect Bashkirs and take away the resources of the Bashkirs leaving only destruction in their wake.
Given all this, the appeal says, the Bashkirs call on Moscow “to stop the destruction of the Bashkir language, now being promoted by the elimination of the regional component in the education system and to guarantee conditions for the complete realization of the rights of the Bashkir people for self-determination within the framework of the Republic of Bashkortostan!”
These demands, the authors of the appeal said, do not mean that the Bashkirs are seeking complete independence, but they warned that if Moscow does not respond positively to them in the wake of events in Georgia, then, the Bashkirs will organize the country’s non-Russians to press Moscow for the same rights and a return to the situation that existed under Boris Yeltsin.
Whether the Bashkirs in general or the leaders of the Kuk Bure movement in particular have the capacity to do that remains unclear, but their declaration is the clearest signal yet that what Moscow has done in South Ossetia and Abkhazia is resonating strongly among the non-Russians inside the Russian Federation.
And that in turn calls attention to a comment by a Ukrainian scholar about the situation across Eurasia. Russian and Western opinion to the contrary, Igor Losev says, “Putin has not resolved the fundamental problems of Russia; he has ‘frozen’ them,” obviously forgetting that “in Russian history after each ‘frost,’ there inevitably follows ‘a thaw.’
Putin’s good fortune and that of his country, Losev goes on to say is that on the territory of the Russian Federation, “no one is working as actively to promote separatist projects as [Moscow] is on the territory of neighboring states.” Were it otherwise, he concludes, “the results would be extremely impressive” (

No comments: