During Russian Imperial and Soviet times, Tatarstan’s capital of Kazan marked the anniversary of the occupation of Kazan by the forces of tsar Ivan the Terrible in various ways, including with the erection of a monument to Russians who died in that fighting. But those who resisted his advance were largely ignored.
With the weakening and then collapse of the Soviet empire, Tatar activists began to mark the event with a memorial day of their own on 15 October each year. But in the last decade, officials have tried to ban it lest such actions anger Moscow. Last year, city officials banned a demonstration on that date but a court overruled them.
Meme by EU vs Disinfo on whitewashing the image of tsar Ivan the Terrible in the modern Russian propaganda.
Now, the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Tatarstan has entered the fray. Its aksakals (the elder, literally “the white-bearded” in Tatar, – Ed.) have announced that they will annually hold prayers in memory of those who died fighting the Russian force. The event will take place on the 13th day of the Muslim month following Ramadan.
This action has drawn support from Tatar officials who see it as a way for Muslims to take control of a holiday that had been dominated by Tatar nationalists and thus give it more a religious than a political meaning. But others are worried that the two forces are coming together in this way.
Kazan Tatars protest against the state-imposed policies of Russification. Tatarstan, Russian Federation, circa 2013. (Image: social media)
Many in Moscow are anything but happy about this development. Andrey Medvedev, a Moscow city deputy, argues that the new holiday will spark tensions between Tatars and Russians who he says “already for five centuries have lived peacefully in one country.”
Nationalism and separatism are dangerous, he says, and what is happening in Tatarstan is the appearance of “a new, completely anti-government discourse. Who needs this? And the main question: why are the government bodies [in Tatarstan] reacting so slowly to all this? ” Is this the result of Turkey’s effort to create a Turkic world in opposition to the Russian one?
And Roman Silantyev, a notorious critic of all things Islamic, says that the new holiday raises many other questions, in large part because Muslims and Christians fought on both sides in 1552. How is that going to be remembered? Will the Muslim holiday recall the Christian defenders of Kazan? If not, why not?
Neither Medvedev nor Silantyev, however, refer to what is almost certainly their greatest fear, that the transformation of 1552 from a narrowly Tatar national holiday to a broader Muslim one is likely to mobilize more Muslim groups in the Russian Federation and boost the status of Tatarstan as an increasingly Muslim center as their leader.
- ‘If a bourgeois revolution is to start in Russia, it will begin with Tatarstan,’ Kazan historian says
- Putin’s ‘Russian world’ continues to contract
- Non-Russian nations of Russia to defend themselves from Putin because their elites won’t
- ‘Almost like a century ago’ – Tatars again organize an alternative state in Russia
- Extending Moscow-Kazan power-sharing treaty will destroy Russia, Gorevoy says
- Tatar historian: ‘Russians are no more European than are the Tatars’
- Russian ‘federalism’ is to federalism what ‘military music is to music’
- Middle Volga Muslim fighters for ‘Russian world’ in Donbas divided on its meaning, Suleymanov says
- Tatar political prisoner: I will continue to denounce Russia’s criminal government
- Warning to Kremlin: Its non-Russians likely to become the Irish of the 21st century
- “World will see a free Ichkeria and a free Tatarstan,” secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council says
- Free Idel-Ural Movement takes shape in Kyiv
- Tatarstan’s efforts to help Gagauz de-Russify outrage some in Moscow
Ukraine needs independent journalism. And we need you. Join our community on Patreon and help us better connect Ukraine to the world. We’ll use your contribution to attract new authors, upgrade our website, and optimize its SEO. And plus, the International Renaissance Foundation will double the money that our patrons will collect by 14 June -- so your contribution and impact will be multiplied! For as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!