Mintimer Shaimiyev: ‘How do I welcome the 100th anniversary of the TASSR? With pride’

Mintimer Shaimiyev: ‘How do I welcome the 100th anniversary of the TASSR? With pride’
Photo: tatarstan.ru

The Year of TASSR’s 100th Anniversary kicked off in Kazan. Tatarstan veterans, scientists, artists, religious representatives as well as officials of the republic participated in the solemn event. First President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev particularly talked about the milestone. Realnoe Vremya presents the transcript of his speech.

“The USSR didn’t dissolve because of interethnic relationships”

Next year we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Tatarstan. You know our story: it is far from being simple, it is deep, ancient. The history of tsarist Russia, then the history of the USSR… It is impossible to conceal it because it is the reality of life — read at least Gumilyov as a neutral author writing about the history of the Tatars.

The issue of creating a Tatar-Bashkir republic arose at the dawn of the October Revolution. It was nurtured by public activists of that time, part of them fell victims to this idea. The invasion of the White Guardsmen, Czechoslovak Legion impeded then, but no matter what Tatarstan has its own identity in contemporary history of Russia. Tatarstan is also crucial in the development of the Russian Federation in the new, current conditions, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

We often forget or ignore that the USSR didn’t dissolve because of interethnic relationships. Many want to boil down to that the allied republics were created on ethnic grounds. It was Lenin’s policy, and then the national issue was entrusted to Joseph Stalin… It is impossible to tell you what happened in a word, but the USSR dissolved, first of all, because there weren’t economic rights.

Tatarstan has its own identity in contemporary history of Russia. Tatarstan is also crucial in the development of the Russian Federation in the new, current conditions, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union

In the 90s, at congresses of Peoples’ Deputies, everybody required independence because there was the USSR State Planning Committee, and everything was very centralised. I have said many times that we even couldn’t determine the fat content of cottage cheese without Moscow’s permission. I remember that I was held accountable because we — Tatarstan — undersupplied beef to the centralised fund. I explained: “More than half of our population are Tatars. We can’t leave so much pork, let’s supply it”.

It might seem to you that I am going to details, but these details characterise the processes that took place then.

“It was not a caprice — neither did we have rights”

We can’t forget that the Russian Federation was the first to adopt the declaration on state sovereignty in the 90s. People keep silent about it, they don’t want to talk about it aloud. But the Russian Federation consisting of autonomous republics was the first to declare it. Not because there were some interethnic issues or because something wasn’t solved in cultural or national aspects but because there weren’t rights.

Tatarstan adopted a declaration after that. It was not a caprice — neither did we have rights.

The Union dissolved, first of all, because everything was centralised and strictly regulated. Even if you produced something in your region due to climatic conditions, you almost didn’t get it. It was going to extremes, undoubtedly, there was a shortage of production then. Now it is the other way round.

Photo: Mikhail Kozlovsky
Tatarstan has been gaining momentum for all these years — after adopting the declaration, signing an agreement with the Russian Federation. Everybody acknowledges it, in every aspect

“We are going to celebrate the TASSR’s 100th anniversary with this problem”

Tatarstan has been gaining momentum for all these years — after adopting the declaration, signing an agreement with the Russian Federation. Everybody acknowledges it, in every aspect. Thank Allah, the republic develops well.

If we want the Russian Federation to continue to get stronger (it was and is a multi-ethnic federation, one of the most complex ones in the world), it must care about the conservation of cultural traditions and languages of peoples that inhabit it in the current conditions. We are going to celebrate the TASSR’s 100th anniversary with this problem in quite an aggravated form.

Russia must gain power to be decently represented on the international stage. We hear it with you day and night, we care about it, and this really exists. Yes, power is needed. Yes, it is necessary to have everything that those who want to own the world have. But at the same time, the spiritual unity, the unity of peoples of the Russian Federation is our power. For this purpose, there must be followed a policy conserving mother tongues, culture itself and traditions of Russian peoples.

Now it is said that more attention must be paid to the Russian language. Nobody doubts it. At the same time, all data proves that in many cases non-Russians do final Russian language exams better, even in our republic. If this problem [of the Russian language] really exists, one should deal with it and it can be easily solved. By “easily” I mean that one should study, be literate.

It isn’t the point. It is important that traditions be conserved, that the country have the power of spiritual unity. So the federation centre will become more attractive, more respected. It might seem I am talking about simple things, but if we stick to them, we can think about everyday issues, reproduce, bring up children and so without worries. There were created conditions for it.

How do I welcome the 100th anniversary? With pride. The path we’ve covered isn’t east. We have covered it decently

“Once it was said impulsively: ‘We can!’”

Our contribution to history is notable. Tatarstan is important and has its own place in the history of all times. At the same time, I must say that it won’t be simple to save languages in the age of globalisation. There are processes that don’t depend on people, and as time goes by globalisation will do its work. Nevertheless, why one shouldn’t create tension beforehand.

We must look decent in front of the open world with our head held high: “It is we!” We can integrate into global processes that are taking place, which, I will repeat, we can’t escape. Becoming more confident, we must welcome the 100th anniversary of our native Tatarstan and move forward. We can do it. Once it was said impulsively: “We can!” It was time. It was the voice of our heart.

We must be self-confident, educated, competitive. As people say, residents of Tatarstan move forward by strengthening the unity of the Russian Federation.

How do I welcome the 100th anniversary? With pride. Our road wasn’t a walk in the park. We have covered it decently. We have the 90s behind. How can we be dissatisfied? Tatarstan’s role in conserving the world and integrity of new Russia is huge.

Normal relationships, managing to speak the same language in the country’s interest are a huge contribution. People and ethnicities are tested on hairpin bends of history — it has always been so. While we decently withstood the 90s. Everybody recognises it. So we can! Move forward! Together we are strong and united.

By Lina Sarimova. Photo: tatarstan.ru