‘The Tatars have no political ambitions, the people want to live drinking tea with berries’

The 8th Congress of the World Congress of the Tatars has finished in Kazan

The 8th Congress of the World Congress of the Tatars, which opened in the Tatarstan capital on July 30, finished with a plenary session at Kazan Expo on 2 August. The delegates re-elected Vasil Shaykhraziev as the head of the Milli Shura (National Council), talked a lot about the problems of national education and supported the denazification of Ukraine by a majority of votes.

Two heroes — Tukay and Dzhalil

Traditionally, half of the time of the congress meeting was devoted to the delegates' acquaintance with Tatarstan: 1,500 people attended the Pechen Bazary festival, visited Great Bolgar. They worked at Kazan Expo, where discussion platforms were launched on the topics of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria, the Tatar world and the creed of Islam, the national and cultural heritage of the Tatar people, the role of pedigree, family, preschool institutions and the education system in the formation of national identity of the younger generation.

In particular, at one of the sites, the director of the Institute of Tatar Encyclopedia and Regional Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan, Iskander Gilyazov, who has now become a YouTube star (he talks about famous Tatar personalities), wondered if the participants of the meeting knew Iskhak Akhmerov (a street in Art City is named after him, this is a Soviet intelligence officer) or Garun Taziev (a geologist and volcanologist). He complained that there are only two heroes in the public consciousness — Tukay and Dzhalil.

The plenary session, which was attended by President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and State Adviser of the Republic of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev, was reinforced by the muftis, in particular Talgat Tadzhuddin and Ravil Gaynutdin. Later, the chairman of the Milli Shura National Council, Vasil Shaykhraziev, proposed opening a department for working with religious figures in the congress.

The delegates were shown a video about the past days of the congress, and one of them was voiced by Firdus Tyamaev's song “Tatarlar”. Tatars from 19 countries of the world came to the congress. Most of them are from Kazakhstan (29 people) and Kyrgyzstan (26), there are several people from Poland, Estonia, Canada, Turkmenistan, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Latvia.

“Ethnic education can be said to be destroyed”

The first fiery speech from the rostrum was delivered by the deputy of the State Council, head of the Union of Writers of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rkail Zaydulla, who, as if a little in spite of Shaikhraziev's words, noted that education used to develop due to the help of merchants, and now businessmen are opening mosques, but not schools. He also reproached the Tatars that they are not interested in politics:

“The Tatars have no political ambitions, the people want to live drinking tea with berries.”

“The ethnic education can be said to have been destroyed," Zaydullah continued. “One can't take state exams in Tatar. The Federal State Educational Standard leaves fewer and fewer opportunities for the Tatar language every year. Half of the people do not speak Tatar, and those who do — they speak it poorly. Soon there may be no ethnic cadres left at all.

He also condemned the introduction of voluntary teaching of the Tatar language and the fact that it is not taught in grades 10-11, pointing out that national education should become an important part of the work of the congress. Especially at a time when Russian foreign policy is looking towards Central Asia and the East.

Between the speeches, Vasil Shaykhraziev read out welcome letters and telegrams — from Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Moscow's Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The chairman of the Council of Elders of Tatars and Bashkirs of Uzbekistan, Rim Giniyatullin, also remembered Moscow:

"5,3 million Tatars live in Russia alone, 3-4 Tatars are in the Duma. There are no other options to protect our interests.”

Besides, Giniyatullin proposed to make June 19 Day of the Tatars (the day of the founding of the congress) and change the name of Bauman Street to Mintimer Shaimiev Street.

“Who told the world about the Tatars, who built the congress? Mintimer Shaimiev: I looked at the names of the streets of Kazan, there are Kirpichnaya, Silikatnaya. In the centre of Bauman Street — who knows who it is? No one knows.

Professor of the Turan University from Kazakhstan, Grif Khayrullin, returned to the problem of education. It should be noted that there was no separate section dedicated to the Tatar language at the congress.

“Did our grandfathers leave a trace? And we? Have you made a network of Tatar schools? Show me such an area! Maybe they opened a Tatar university? No!”

There was a place for new regions among the speakers. The head of the Tatar cultural centre of Alchevsk (LNR), Flur Karachurin, said:

“We fought for our rights and for our independence, we thank Russia.”

He also recalled that the heroes of “The Blue Shawl” are just coming home from the mining regions. It should be noted that the Tatarlar programme, which is produced by the congress, has already made a programme about the Tatars of Lugansk.

Extending the celebration of the 1100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam and supporting Putin

After the speeches of the delegates, a new composition of the “Milli Shura” — the national council — was elected. Despite the fact that among the participants of the congress, in fact, there were no people under 40 (except for the staff of the executive committee of the World Congress of Tatars, journalists and volunteers), among the 75 members of the “Shura” there were only two such. These are the chairman of the World Forum of Tatar Youth, Lenaria Muslyumova, and Airat Fayzrakhmanov.

The head of the department of interaction with the media and public organisations of the Ministry of Culture told Realnoe Vremya that he learned about the inclusion in the list of delegates at the last moment and could not participate in the congress. Fayzrakhmanov believes that he cannot be part of the “Milli Shura” due to his occupation and inability to represent the forum of Tatar youth.

The meeting was finished by the speeches of the two presidents. Tatarstan State Councilor Mintimer Shaimiev pointed out that a Tatar has the right to speak his own language and adhere to his religion on his land, where he pays taxes — “this is important!”, he noted. The first president of the republic proposed to popularise the history of Bolgar among children and stressed that he considers the adoption of the 1990 declaration on the sovereignty of Tatarstan to be correct.

“It is gratifying to realise that in the perestroika years of the last century we had the sense to preserve and strengthen the integrity of the Russian Federation, not to lose our face, to be creators and to pursue a policy consistent with the aspirations of the Russian peoples," said Shaimiev, suggesting not to limit ourselves to celebrating the 1100th anniversary of the official and voluntary adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria in 2022.

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov also noted the important role of religion:

“The mosque is not only a place for reading prayers, it is a place of learning, and not only religion, our traditions," he pointed out, supporting Shaimiev's idea that Tatarstan schoolchildren should definitely be introduced to Bolgar.

The resolution of the congress was adopted literally in one minute. One of its points read (translated from Tatar): “We, the delegates of the congress, express our approval of the actions of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to protect people in Donbass, restore peaceful life, demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.” The chairman of the Milli Shura National Council, Vasil Shaykhraziev, who has just been re-elected to this position, pointing out that the delegates have the text of the draft resolution, and proposing to include the proposals of Shaimiev and Minnikhanov, asked to vote. Shouts of dissenters were heard. The deputy prime minister announced that the resolution was adopted by the majority (at that moment several people left the audience), thanked the participants again, who finished the meeting singing “Tugan Tel”.

The first meeting of the new composition of the National Council of the World Congress of Tatars was held in the format of a closed business lunch, and the delegates are already going home today.

Radif Kashapov