Friday, February 15, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Tatar Activists Pledge to Prevent in Naberezhny Chelny a ‘Second Kondopoga’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 15 – The Azatlyk Union of Tatar Youth says it will do everything it can to prevent tensions in Naberezhny Chelny from spinning out of control and creating there a “Kondopoga-2,” a reference to the Karelian city where inter-ethnic violence in 2006 disturbed the entire country.

            In a statement, Azatlyk pointed to the appearance of calls for “driving out of Chelny and Tatarstan the non-Russians” after an Uzbek was arrested for the murder of a local Russian girl.  “We want to warn everyone that a Kondopoga-2 will not be allowed to happen” here (

            The declaration noted that Uzbeks and Tatars have a common Turkic origin and that in no case does “an entire people bear collective responsibility for the actions of particular criminals.  The ethnic Russian Chikatilo killed tens of people, including children, but are all Russians guilty of that?”

            Moreover, “Ivan Grozny and succeeding [Russian] rulers killed hundreds of thousands of children and the elderly of our people.” What, using “the logic of the skinheads should we do” in response?"

            “We want to remind those who have forgotten that the peoples of Central Asia not so long ago in the years of the war and in the hungry years that followed took in millions of ethnic Russians and Tatars thus saving them from death by starvation. And [it asked] how are their grandchildren, the skinheads, responding to them now?”

            Tensions in that Middle Volga city have been rising since February 2 when Vasilisa Golitsyna disappeared after school. A 30-year-old Uzbek, Farrukh Tashbayev, who worked in a local advertising agency, was suspected and has confessed. Nonetheless, some skinhead groups have sought to whip up anti-Turkic sentiments with automobile demonstrations and the like.

                In recent months, the Russian media have sought to portray the Turkic republics of the Middle Volga region as sliding into the kind of Islamist violence and chaos that have characterized the North Caucasus.  Azatlyk is obviously worried that this latest tragedy may be exploited by those who want Moscow to intervene and crackdown on their homelands.

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