'Even if a Tatar does not know the language, we still consider him belong to us'
At the 9th All-Russian gathering of entrepreneurs from Tatar villages, they were called on not to forget their origins and not to quarrel with other ethnicities
“The Tatar villages located outside the republic remain the guardians of traditions, religion and language. Therefore, we must fulfill your requests," Rustam Minnikhanov promised to support Tatar entrepreneurs working in the Russian hinterland on 2 April. The real culmination of the 9th All-Russian gathering of entrepreneurs from Tatar villages was the speech of the head of the farm of Khasan Idiyatullin from Bashkortostan, who compared the multinational state with a mighty oak tree, the power of which lies in its roots. “As long as we have one root," he lamented, making it clear that the more of them there are, the more durable the tree will be. In general, entrepreneurs called for the preservation of their origins: “If you are a Tatar, then you should remain one," it was said at the gathering on the eve of the All-Russian Population Census.
“The Tatars are the second largest ethnicity in the Russian Federation”
“Do we have to become a small ethnicity? No, absolutely not! Let's carry out explanatory work in rural areas," Fanir Galimov, the chairperson of the Association of Tatar Villages, called for activity in Tatar villages and villages in the Russian regions. For example, at the 9th All-Russian Gathering of Entrepreneurs from Tatar Villages, farmers unwittingly touched on the upcoming All-Russian Population Census, which starts in September 2021. The gathering of rural entrepreneurs was held in Kazan for three days in a row from March 31. It culminated in a large plenary session meeting in Korston Hotel & Mall in Kazan. It brought together about 500 delegates from different regions and cities of the country — Bashkortostan, Perm Krai, Mordovia, Orenburg Oblast, Omsk and even from the Republic of Sakha.
The head of Milli Shura, Vasil Shaikhraziev, who acted as the organiser, stressed that the gathering was held with the permission of Rospotrebnadzor, and last year it did not take place due to the pandemic. According to him, the main goal is to discuss the Strategy of the Tatars 2030. "146 million citizens live in Russia, 5 million of them are Tatars. The second largest ethnicity," Shaikhraziyev reminded.
The main guest was the president of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, to whom the speeches of Tatar entrepreneurs were addressed. Let us note that the meeting was held entirely in the Tatar language. For 2,5 hours, entrepreneurs who came to Kazan from neighbouring republics, as well as Rustam Minnikhanov himself, spoke in their native language. Welcoming speeches were delivered in Russian by representatives of the heads of Altai and Kurgan Oblast.
The national population census, as you know, is held in Russia once every 10 years. Despite the apparent simplicity of calculating the number, this purely technical event often has a political background. Although the Tatar entrepreneurs themselves did not complain about the harassment at the forum, some alarm sounded in their speeches.
“It seems to be a formal action, but I am worried that there are getting fewer Tatars all the time," Fanir Galimov, the chairperson of the Association of Tatar Villages, shared his experiences from the forum rostrum. “But we have been left with great wealth! If there is an ethnic spirit, we must [show] that we are competitive," he said.
According to the head of the Association of Tatar Villages, explanatory work will help many residents to decide during the census. “If you were born a Tatar, you should remain one," Galimov said convincingly.
“Brother, have you been to Kazan?"
Rural entrepreneurs from different regions told about how Tatar villages live outside of Tatarstan. The first speaker was the head of a farm, Ilgam Akchurin, from the Fedorovsky district of Bashkortostan. For 30 years, he has been growing crops on an area of 1400 hectares, he has 300 cows, and sells meat. According to him, social issues are solved in the village independently, they win grants, they do not ask for support.
“There are many issues in multi-ethnic Bashkortostan, but we do not have them," he assured. According to him, there will be no conflicts in society if you do not humiliate the people of another ethnicity. “When there is a dispute, I ask: 'Brother, have you been to Kazan? Go and talk to me later.”
The head of one of the farms of Perm Oblast, Mansur Tukhvatullin, also agrees with him. Nine hundred people live in his village. A few years ago, they merged with 33 villages to form a territorial public self-government (TOS). They built a hockey box together and attracted a grant of 500,000 rubles. Together, the most beautiful mosque in Perm Krai was built here. “If we are united, then the development strategy will be implemented," he concluded.
A matter of life and death for Siberian Tatars
Greetings on behalf of the Siberian Tatars were conveyed by Zalifa Rakhmangulova, a resident of the Ulenkulsky rural settlement of Omsk Oblast. She told how, against the will of her detractors, she could build a museum of the life of the Tatar family.
“There were opponents, but we opened the courtyard-museum that introduces the culture of the Tatars.” In conclusion, she asked for support in building a 40 km road to the village. “It is a matter of life and death! If you ask our governor, you will succeed," she said to the president of the Republic of Tatarstan.
The culmination of the 9th All-Russian gathering of entrepreneurs from Tatar villages was the speech of the head of a farm, Khasan Idiyatullin from Bashkortostan, who compared the multinational state with a mighty oak tree, the power of which lies in its roots. “As long as we have one root," he lamented, making it clear that the more of them there are, the more durable the tree will be.
“There are no fewer Tatars, but we need to organise work during the census," Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov objected. “Of course, not all of them know the Tatar language, but we consider them our own, we want to bring them closer to the culture, religion and language. Each of them must self-determine," he said. According to him, today the Tatars are not shy about their ethnic identity and can proudly declare it. “Today, no one is ashamed to call himself a Tatar," he said.
At the same time, it is difficult to preserve ethnic identity without systematic work, the president believes. “We are the second largest nation, we must make every effort. Today, no one is ashamed to call himself a Tatar. Wherever you look, there are outstanding personalities of Tatars everywhere," said Rustam Minnikhanov.
Good fellow tribesmen
In conclusion, he added that the directors of the institutes that have developed vaccines against coronavirus are Tatars. “The leaders of the two institutes against the coronavirus are our Tatar fellows," he said to the applause of the audience.“This also shows what good people our tribesmen are. After all, even on a global scale, not everyone can make a vaccine. That's why we're proud of them.”
“The census is a private matter. If he wanted to, he signed up as a Bashkir, if he wanted to, he signed up as a Tatar. First of all, it is important who he is at heart. There are mixed marriages… He must decide. There are some people who sometimes correspond with Russians. This is personal decision," Rustam Minnikhanov said earlier at a meeting of the media club at the Plenipotentiary Mission of the Republic of Tatarstan to the Russian Federation in Moscow.
He assured that the republic “will not quarrel” with Bashkiria in connection with the long-standing problem when the Tatars living there are recorded as Bashkirs. “At some stage, there were distortions. But our position is to preserve our relations," the head of Tatarstan noted.