Around a fifth of Russia’s residents belong to one of the country’s 150 or so ethnic minority groups. They have traditionally had a large degree of autonomy, but now Moscow is tightening its grip.
A dispatch from Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, where the Muslim Tatar population fears Moscow’s centralization drive is harming local culture. With words by Jesper Gormsen.
In the 1990s, the fluid and formative days after the fall of the Soviet Union, Tatar activists fought for local autonomy and even adopted their own constitution, which made teaching the Tatar language compulsory in schools. Now, after a lightning-fast legislative move by Moscow, Tatar language classes have been reduced from five hours a week to an optional two, and local parents plan to sue. The idea of Russia as a federation is losing ground, with everything increasingly measured in loyalty to the Kremlin. The Muslim Tatar community is on the sharp edge of this trend.