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№ 105 (3255)01.07.2006
Notes of a press secretary
The last president of Tatarstan (5)

It is not a secret that the rebirth of national self-consciousness and the enthusiasm of national liberation movements in the republics of the Soviet Union were initiated by the national elites of these regions which were scared by "Uzbek" and other criminal cases in the time of Andropov and by Gorbachev`s reforms. The hidden support of the nationalistic leaders and the public imitation of struggling with them were conductive to ask maximal independency by Mikhail Gorbachev what forced collapse of the Soviet Union.

The growth of the national self-consciousness became a copy of the similar events in the Transcaucasia. An engine of these processes was Tatar social center (TSC) which was established on the forum on 17-18 February 1989. Lyubov Ageyeva wrote: "The fact that the establishing forum took place in the new building of Ghaliaskar Kamal theatre and was perfectly organized confirms the presence of high patrons who were in the shadow. You can not exclude that there really were some like-minded people among the Party`s men. Yet the local authorities could not support the new movement plainly... After some time TSC will be a reliable ally of the authority of the republic in the hard dialogue to Moscow" ("Republic of Tatarstan: contemporary history").

It was not only an ally, but it also helped to scare Moscow. Artificially reviving the national inferiority complex, playing with romantic impulses of TSC leaders and peoples` feelings, they managed to create a stormy atmosphere, which the power needed so much. A many thousands of nationalists, radical demands of separation from Russia, escalation of separation spirits became a good help in political haggling with Moscow. On the quiet the power joined TSC in singing a revolutionary song and used the Center for the escalation of the national self- consciousness to make their rights wider. And it is a tragedy of thousands of people, but not their fault, that they demonstrated against Russia, that the sovereignty of the Republic became a license for enrichment of the politics, for creating a society of bureaucracy under cover of renaissance of the national self-consciousness, of saving the national culture and language.

In the autumn of 2002 thousands of hockey club "Ak Bars" fans could not see the TV translation of the match of their favorite team. A mobile television unit of "Tatarstan" regional state-owned TV and Radio Company was withdrawn and handed over to the TV and Radio Company "Novy Vek" (New age). Yet "Novy Vek" (TNV) did not have a net of stable signal reception yet. Not only in the districts, but in Kazan too many people could not watch TNV channel. I was the head of the "Tatarstan" TV and Radio Company and offered TNV to send the picture from the mobile television unit parallel to the studios of TNV and of "Tatarstan". And I offered to translate the match in Tatar language on our station, so we would not copy each other. It is a paradox, but Moscow supported my idea and was ready to give us some more time in the TV viewing grid, if we would need it. Yet Kazan did not understand us. TNV refused this offer categorically. The Chairman of the State Council of the Republic Farid Mukhammetshin, who was the president of the hockey club "Ak Bars" then, promised to help me, yet he did not do anything. Though it would be easy for him, he had just to make one phone call.

Why did "Novy Vek" refuse the compromise? The main reason was probably that the ad men of the new born TV Company thought that a state company with a better system of signal propagation would have much bigger audience, even if it would broadcast in Tatar, and the advertiser would prefer "Tatarstan". Support of the Tatar language was not worthy this money!

This case is a certainly a very small but very significant stroke which characters the real attitude to the questions of national culture and language of the elite and people who were near to it. So there is no need to surprise that Yeltsin`s offer to "take as much sovereignty as you can eat" was interpreted as a license "to seal as much as one can steal".

A special economical policy of Tatarstan did not let any oligarchs to the Republic, they did not give the property to the foreign people. Yet they divided it themselves among the elite. An during the great historical process of conversion the power into the private property and easy money such "trifles" as saving and development of the national language of the forefathers were not important.

Nowadays the power, which knows "divide at imperia" (divide and rule) principle very well, permanently throws "bones" to the society, so it gnaws on the "bone" and bites itself. Let us remember the confusion about the Peter I monument. The authorities had got to know for a long time that St. Petersburg government wanted to present it to Kazan. And they also knew very well that this spark could set a forest at fire, for the attitude to the emperor is ambiguous. They knew it, yet they did not do anything to prevent the confusion. On the contrary they had been waiting till the two-meter high bust was in Kazan. So the adherents and the opponents of the Peter I monument started to share their opinions openly. And the fact that the state mass-media took part in the discussion shows that this struggle was allowed or, at least, not prohibited by the powers. Only at the critical moment the authorities decided to set Lev Gumilev monument instead of Peter I monument.

The power also knows more subtle methods. In the summer 2005 Fandas Safiullin shared his memories with me. He told me how he, being a deputy of the Russian State Duma and a World Tatar congress delegate, could not come to the delegates` meeting with Vladimir Putin. Safiullin did not hide that he wanted to try to speak about transferring the Tatar language into the Latin script and about the opening of a national university. A school director from a Bashkiria town Belebey had another question: "Is it easy to be a Tatar in Bashkiria?" He could come to this meeting though he was not a Congress delegate. And he was allowed to speak there.

Some people know very well that no one can take part in such meeting accidentally, all the more speak there. All the speeches are approved. A man who even was not a delegate of the congress could take part in the meeting just at the blessing of the President of Tatarstan or at least of the head of his Service. And Shaymiyev only could allow him to speak.

Putin was not confused by the question of the school director. The main sense of his answer was: "let sleeping dogs lie". Yet the question was asked, appeared in all mass-media and the try to cast the blame on someone else resulted no better relationship between friendly Bashkiria and Tatarstan people. The authority had seemingly nothing to do with this. As it usually happens.


Continuation. Read the beginning in № 98, 101, 102, 103.

(To be continued)


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