A quarter of Tatarstan citizens missing their seniority and salary due to 'crazy nineties'

Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova, the chairperson of the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan, told about the reasons for the loss of data and the launch of a campaign to compile pedigrees

A quarter of Tatarstan citizens in the past year were missing their seniority and salary due to dishonest managers of enterprises in the 1990s. Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova, the chairman of the State Committee for Archival Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan, told about this live on #TatarstanOnline. The head of the service also reported on a curious initiative — the compilation of a database of pedigrees of all residents born in the republic. The work, which will take many years, began from the Aktanyshsky district and rural gatherings. How the “rejuvenated” State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan after modernisation looks like, why private owners who can compile a pedigree from the nobles should not be trusted, why the notes of Ahmad ibn Fadlan of the 10th century presented by Iran were brought to Kazan, and why they are so important for the history of Tatarstan — read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

Seniority and salaries unaccounted for

Last year, the State Archive of Tatarstan was forced to give negative responses to 23% of requests out of 107,300, mainly from pensioners, with a request to confirm seniority and salary. The problem was voiced during the online broadcast by the chairman of the State Committee for Archival Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan, Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova.

Usually, such requests are made by the Pension Fund of Tatarstan, to calculate the amount of an employee's pension, but sometimes “people do not trust it” and send requests independently. The reasons why, in fact, more than 25,000 Tatarstan citizens, and this at least (if we count only those who applied to the State Archive), will receive a much smaller pension than they could, according to the speaker, are in the “crazy nineties”.

“Since in the 1990s there was a large-scale reorganisation of enterprises, from public sector to private sector, and so on. Many businesses have not actually done their social work as they should have. They did not, for example, prolong the contracts. Documents on the personnel of the employees were not handed over. Now we will not be able to confirm either seniority or salary of some of our Tatarstan citizens. Recently, we were approached by a man who then worked at seven transport enterprises, used to get a good salary! But none of these transport companies in the 1990s submitted the documents. And now he will get a social pension," Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova explained.

Since 2019, the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan, on behalf of the President of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, has been actively working to prevent a repeat of the “nineties”. As much as possible, it tries to make all existing enterprises “sources of the archive”, concluding contracts with them on a free basis — on the provision of all the necessary documents for each employee. In order to have data on seniority and salary later, organisations must transfer to the archive any information, including changes in legal status, type of activity, or, for example, staff reduction.

The Pension Fund, according to Gabdrakhmanova, has its own system, which has worked since 2014 — but only on “white salaries”. The head of the State Archive advised Tatarstan citizens to contact their directors through trade unions, so that they “fill out the documents correctly”.

“There are no dusty basements any more!”

Curiously, this also applies to the State Archive itself, which in the last years of its reorganisation and modernisation associated with the introduction of information technologies, was forced to part with elderly employees who were no longer able to improve methods of work.

“There is a stereotype that the archive employs people who are a few days away from retirement, old people. This has been the case until recently, of course," Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova admits. “But we need, unfortunately, for the employees who left us, to quickly change our views. Not so long ago, only 12% of employees with specialised education worked in the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan! Now we are certifying the remaining employees.

The agency, which is equal in status to the ministry, is actively working with the Kazan Construction College, where specialised employees are trained, who do practical work in the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan before that. Only in 2020, 50 young employees came to work in the archive, and now there are their own restorers, archivists and young historians (they come here mainly after graduating the KFU). More than 200 students completed the internship. For comparison, whether this is a lot or a little, now the State Archive employs 191 employees, 31 of which are in the main institution. The municipal archives employ 331 people.

After a large-scale modernisation, Gabdrakhmanova said, the State Archive of Tatarstan is located in five buildings, “one of the best”. In the districts, the archives are also kept in similar premises, where major repairs have recently been completed. Each one has portable racks. “There are no dusty basements any more!” the agency assured.

Five buildings are not enough, we need another one

The agency, however, indirectly recognises that there are not enough buildings for storing documents and their digitised copies. The waiting list to the reading room of the State Archive of Tatarstan is huge, one can register there today only for June (last year, more than 5,000 people visited the reading room, not only historians and teachers, but also ordinary citizens of Tatarstan). The lack of space is also felt as a result of the digitisation of video and audio materials of TV and radio companies of Tatarstan, which the State Archive is obliged to deal with — the base is already huge, and Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova therefore asked the republican authorities to allocate another building for their storage.

At the same time, the archive is developing not only in the “analogue direction” (although digital copies still need not only clouds, but also still real premises), but also in the digital one. Now the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan is actively developing its 'Unified Archival Information System', which has a 'remote reading room' for both the residents of Tatarstan and the residents of other regions. According to Gabdrakhmanova, anyone can “knock” here by submitting a request, the name of the oldest ancestor, the year and month, as well as the place of his or her birth. The fee for digitised documents, which will be issued to the user after a short investigation, is completely symbolic.

Why Kazan received the status of the city of labour valour without any problem

To search for ancestors, the State Archive of Tatarstan has also launched an intelligent system that helps its employees find documents very quickly. Finally, there is the special portal 'Map of History' (Karta Istorii), which tells — through documents, as well as audio and video materials — the history of the whole of Tatarstan.

“Now, for example, we have a huge database of TV and radio programmes for more than a hundred years of the republic's history. Many interesting interviews. More than seven million items, each with more than 100 documents. There are even records of the times of the Kazan revolutionaries after 1917! Done very well. Then people knew how to shoot," said the chairperson of the State Archive live. “We have the most excellent conditions, we preserved many documents during the Second World War, despite the famine, all enterprises and artels that produced some felt boots and mittens, then transferred their documents to the archive. Personal collections of documents handed over during the war years have also been preserved.”

As a result of the large-scale work of the employees of the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan, impressive answers were received to the questions of how the rear Tatarstan contributed to the victory over the Nazis, given that evacuated enterprises worked in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan,scientific and technical developments were conducted, and 74 military hospitals operated. All the information is in the archives. As a result, Kazan received the status of the City of Labour Valour from Moscow without any problem — one of the first.

Database of pedigrees of Tatarstan residents

Another line of work of the State Archive of Tatarstan, which will require many years of research, is the compilation of a database of pedigrees of all residents of the Republic of Tatarstan who were born in the republic. At the same time, the scale of requests from Tatarstan residents themselves is already quite large, Gulnara Gabdrakhmanova noted. The work has just begun, and it started from the Aktanyshsky district. To collect information on the portal, rural gatherings are held, where they try to take consent to the processing of personal data from each resident of the village, and then all possible information about parents, about their ancestors.

“We have already attracted people who know how to make pedigrees, and download them on the portal. We take some of the information from neighbouring regions by agreement with them, because earlier some territories of today's Tatarstan belonged to Ufa Governorate, Orenburg Governorate, some villages were on the territory of today's Udmurtia, or Samara Oblast. We have signed agreements with them on metric books, and our people, for example, who know Arabic and Old Tatar, translate them. Then the volunteers download this information on the portal, and designate who is related to whom — husband, wife, son, daughter. Everything will be shown separately.”

A large batch of documents, those metric books, were brought from Moscow and Bashkortostan. But because of the huge amount of data, we have compiled a little more than 200 pedigrees of residents of the Aktanyshsky district, and we have found the oldest ancestor — born in 1720. So far, the project is designed for 5 years, but “if there is a feedback from people”, then it will probably be extended, the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan says. Especially today, for an ordinary person to make a pedigree costs a pretty penny — the service costs from 11,000 to 21,000 rubles. The pedigree on the portal of public services will be seen only by a personal user, so archivists are asked to give consent to the processing of personal data more often, otherwise it will be possible to “miss a brother or sister”.

It is worth noting that, contrary to misconceptions, information about soldiers who fought on the fields of the Second World War is provided mainly by the ministry of defence, the same agency helps to search for people who disappeared in the war. However, the State Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan can help with the preparation and submitting requests. Even if the information is classified for some reason, the archivists of Tatarstan can contact the archive of the ministry of defence of the Russian Federation and give an idea at least how long the information will be classified.

The head of the State Archive has a skeptical attitude towards private individuals who are engaged in the compilation of pedigrees on a commercial basis today:

“I do not want to offend them, 3 years ago I came to work in the State Archive of Tatarstan. But sometimes we hold competitions for children on pedigrees, which are [compiled on a commercial basis], then we check on site. And, unfortunately, very often we face the problem that names are incorrectly translated from Arabic graphics, and the pedigrees of the wrong person are in the end. Private owners still, perhaps, because of the ambitions of [the clients], write that they came from a noble class of some kind! But often the child could be adopted by nobles, giving him their name, or children were sometimes abandoned. Naturally, there are also descendants of noble families, but their percentage is very small. Better come to our archive. Even if someone compiles a pedigree for you, we will double-check it for a small fee. But, unfortunately, for example, in the Arsky district, there are villages where all the archival books were burned, there are no metrics. We just have to accept it. It's a shame, yes, but, unfortunately, there are no documents. And you won't find them anywhere else.”

How Iran presented the notes of ibn Fadlan to Tatarstan

All metrics come from villages, the head of the State Archive notes, and all metric books, census lists are saved. Partly for the work on the sources and origins of the origin of Tatarstan itself. Interestingly, the State Archive has recently brought from Iran a message from Ahmad ibn Fadlan about the movement of the Tatars throughout Russia — it dates back to the 10th century, and it was generously presented to our republic by the Iranian authorities. Now the State Archive is working on its translation.

The document itself is really of great historical value. Let us remind that the” Notes of Ahmad ibn Fadlan is an important source on the history of Eastern Europe of the 10th century. Its author visited Volga Bulgaria as part of the embassy of the Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate, Al-Muqtadir (908-932). The trip took place at the initiative of the ruler of Volga Bulgaria, who, wanting to get rid of the power of the Khazars, asked for the protection of the caliph and promised to convert to Islam. The embassy left Baghdad in 921 and arrived in Volga Bulgaria in May 922. Nothing is known about the results of the visit, but Ahmad ibn Fadlan left a detailed record of the journey, in which he gave a lot of ethnographic information about the Ghuzzs, Bashkirs, Bulgars and Khazars. Besides, Ahmad ibn Fadlan saw the Russ in Bulgaria and left a detailed description of their funeral rites.

Although the work on compiling the entire database of pedigrees has only just begun, in principle, now any citizen of Tatarstan can ask for this service for a small fee. To do this, one only needs to provide the day, year, place of birth and the correct full name of the oldest ancestor. However, at a time one can make only one branch of the family tree (conditionally, according to the ancestors of the father or the ancestors of the mother) — historians say that it is “inconvenient” to make two branches at the same time.

By Sergey Afanasyev
Analytics Tatarstan
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