Power Vertical Threatens Republics

World Tatar CongressSoviet-style nationality policy will destroy Russia, Volga peoples say

The draft program for Russia’s future nationality policy prepared by the Moscow Institute of Ethnology calls for “the systematic destruction of the federal and democratic foundations” of the Russian Federation and contains elements from Soviet practice that could lead to “the disintegration of the country,” Middle Volga activists say.

This week, the World Kurultay of Bashkirs and the World Congress of Tatars released a joint appeal attacking the Moscow proposal in the name of “preserving the constitutional bases of the ethno-cultural diversity of the peoples of the Russian Federation.” Mordvin activists yesterday announced that they support the provisions of this declaration as well.

While all three groups have been denounced as radical in the past, the decision of the Turkic Tatars and Bashkirs to issue this statement and the readiness of the Finno-Ugric Mordvins to join them suggest that the issues the appeal raises reflect the views of many people in that region and perhaps more generally as well.

The Tatar-Bashkir declaration begins by asserting that “the situation which now exists in the country threatens the existence of the multi-national Russian Federation” because “authoritarian tendencies are increasing … and have begun to penetrate all spheres of social-political and social-economic life”.

“The construction of the so-called power vertical has resulted in the systematic destruction of federal and democratic foundations of the new Russian statehood which arose after the destruction of the totalitarian regime of the CPSU,” the appeal continues.

“As is well-known,” they write, “at one time in the USSR, the authorities persistently attempted to create a single Soviet people without ethno-national characteristics. [Such efforts] generated strong tension in society, especially in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations and, in the final analysis, led to the collapse of the country.”


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