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Tatar nationalists are losing ground23.10.2012 | 11:26
According to Russian and international experts, Tatar nationalism has lost the battle for young minds in Tatarstan. However, the nationalist movement "Azatlyk" (Freedom) is still afloat and even manages to gain new followers. Experts say the reason for this lies in a variety of factors. Among them - a special attitude of the local officials.
In Tatarstan the writer Fauzia Bayramova is called "grandmother of Tatar nationalism". Like any grandmother, Fauzi has her "grandchildren" - the leaders of the young nationalists. The first, Imrek Garipov, was the head of the movement "Azatlyk" from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to 2006, "Azatlyk" was led by Rim Gilfanov, later the chief editor of Tatar-Bashkir edition of "Radio Liberty" in Prague. Now Bayramova's "grandson" is a 24-year-old Nail Nabiullin.
Credo of the current leader of "Azatlyk" - Tatar nationalism, Pan-Turkism and Islam. "If a man is the Tartar, he must realize that constantly fighting Turkic tribes have turned into one nation only through Islam", Nabiullin said in an interview to GTimes. He sees the future of Tatarstan in a state from the Caucasus to Lake Baikal, which, he believes, will become heart of the entire Turkic world - from Turkey to Yakutia. Leader of the "Azatlyk" hopes that the new Tatar state will be recognized by the great powers of the world. "Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia will help us in this. Georgia will help us, as it has once helped the independent Ichkeria", Nabiullin told GTimes correspondent.
Nail Nabiullin was born in 1989 in a family of teachers. After high school, he entered the law faculty of the University of Kazan. In the University he carried away ideas of Tatar separatism, and in 2006 he succeeded Rim Gilfanov as leader of the movement "Azatlyk". For the nationalism Nail was repeatedly expelled from the University. His father often strapped him for this. Once he did it at the "staff" flat of the movement in front of the other activists. Nail overcame the bitterness of humiliation with help of "grandma Fauzia" and ... Kazan Kremlin.
Why the Tatar officials are helping marginalized separatists? Russian expert Vasili Ivanov told GTimes: "For the officials in the Kazan Kremlin Tatar extremists are tool for manipulating Moscow. If someone from the officials feels unsteady chair, he says Moscow: Look, our republic is covered by rampant of separatism. He tells about Nabiullin, for example, and convince Moscow of his indispensability at such a post, and preserves the authority", the expert says.
According to Ivanov, the facts of support of the radical nationalists by the officials are obvious. "We carried out checks of economic activity of the "Azatlyk". It showed that a number of officials from the Kazan Kremlin was funding the rent of the office for the separatists, legal aid and other material preferences", Ivanov says.
After the murder of Waliullah Yakupov the value "Azatlyk" in the eyes of officials has increased for another reason. "The officials see in this movement a springboard for growing radical Islamist sentiment among the youth. "Azatlyk", the leadership of which professes Hanafi madhhab, refrains from close contact with the "Hizb-ut-Tahrir" or Salafis. However, moderation "Azatlyk's" Islam is pretty doubtful since Nabiullin's deputy on ideology is Airat Shakirov - Salafi preacher, better known as "Sheikh Umar".
Prior to his arrest on the case of the terrorist attack on July 19, "Sheikh Umar" was the Imam of a mosque in the district center of a Visokaya Gora. Before becoming an Imam, he for a long time was in the Wahhabi Jamaats in the North Caucasus. His release from prison was largely the work of his patron - the head of the Vysokogorsky district Rustam Kaliullin. After that, "Sheikh Umar" entered the "Azatlyk". According to the Tatar experts, such turn in Shakirov's career would have been impossible without agreements between Kaliullin and curators of the "Azatlyk" in the Kazan Kremlin.
Today, the popularity of nationalist ideas in Tatarstan subsides. RISS expert Yana Amelin told GTimes: "In 2009, in Tatarstan there were much more of active Islamists than the nationalists. This shows that the separatist ideology has lost the struggle for the minds of young Tatars to the radical Islam", Amelina says. The results of the visit of a group of experts from the "American Foreign Policy Council" to Tatarstan in late 2010 are a clear illustration of this loss. Americans came to the conclusion that the problem of radical Islam in Tatarstan is the problem more acute than the national separatism.
Tatar bureaucracy today considers the "Azatlyk" the "lesser evil". But "moderate" Nabiullin also is not eternal. He can be removed at any time. It is possible that Nail himself can dramatically change color, becoming radical. He has already once turned from pagan-Tengrist into Muslim-Hanafi. The transformation of a very young man from moderate Hanafi into armed Wahhabi Salafist may occur for a short time. It all depends on external factors, one of which is the weather in the Kazan Kremlin.