Monday, July 28, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Russia's Looming Tatar Problem

Crimean Tatar demonstrations. Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev.
Crimean Tatar demonstrations. Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev.
Russia's largest ethnic minority just got larger.

With Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, hundreds of thousands of Tatars have suddenly become reluctant Russian citizens. They aren't happy and they're getting feisty -- rejecting Russia's overtures and pushing for their own referendum on autonomy.

And Russia's looming Crimean Tatar problem comes at a time when Moscow's relations with its existing 5 million-strong Tatar minority are becoming increasingly tense.

The Kremlin is celebrating its annexation of Crimea as a patriotic victory and evidence of Russia's revival. But will it come at the cost of yet another ethnic conflict?

On the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," we discuss Russia's new Crimean Tatar problem and what it may portend. Joining me are guests Rim Gilfanov, director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, and Merkhat Sharipzhan, a senior correspondent and analyst for RFE/RL's Central Newsroom.

Also on the podcast, Rim, Merkhat, and I take a closer look at Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev.

Power Vertical Podcast -- April 4, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- April 4, 2014i
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Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.

Tags: Crimean Tatars,Power Vertical podcast

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
April 04, 2014 18:46
RFE ....
you are simply disgusting ....
disgusting for how blow over ashes of interethnic hate
hoping to take fire .

regarding these Tatars of Crimea

I think they are driven by people
who had different interest from those of their people

why expose yourself your people so much
if anything is still success ?

we say :

they wrap their head
even before being broken
In Response

by: Asehpe from: the Netherlands
April 08, 2014 01:41

why do you think
your opinion counts more as other people's?

RL is doing its job
defending its viewpoint
as you defend yours
if this is OK for you, why not for them?

Regarding those Tatars in Crimea
your opinion doesn't make it so

Have you ever talked to them?
I have
They don't say what you say
They speak differently from you
They love their people
They are afraid for their loved ones
They don't know what will happen to them
And your words don't help

Your words,
don't help.

That's the point.

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
April 04, 2014 19:06
Nice report and thanks for the history lesson. Couple points: With a population of just 250,000 doesn’t Russia have enough wealth to purchase the loyalty and support of the Crimean Tatars? Your comment about the inability of the Ukrainian state/military to protect the local population hits the target. Why would the Crimean Tatars resist when the Ukrainian military gave up without a fight? Finally, in the eternal scheme of things, I wonder about the wisdom of RFE promoting separatist sentiments. These types of discussions add fuel to the already overheated rhetoric in the Russian media about the nefarious 5th column and its ties to the west. The Russian authorities are certain to overreact and innocent Tatars could end up paying a heavy price.

by: American Tolerast
April 04, 2014 20:19
Russia isn't afraid of anyone or anything. Except Roman letters. And a tiny seventy-year-old man.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 05, 2014 05:42
Interestingly enough, just a few days ago the Crimean-Tatar Mejlis delegated two of its members into the (pro-Russian) govt of the Crimean Republic, while recommending the ethnic Crimean Tatars "not to decline the offer of Russian citizenship".
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 07, 2014 13:06
Well, guys, while you are so worried about "Russia's Tatar problem", it looks like "Ukraine" continues disintegrated: the people of Donetsk have already proclaimed an independent Rep., in Luhansk the pro-independence activists have seazed arms. Who knows: we might be entering the last week of the existence of what used to be known as "Ukraine".
Cheers from Vienna and, by the way, it was really smart of you to have orchestrated the ouster of Yanoukowitsch from Presidency :-)!
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
April 08, 2014 01:44
Thanks, Eugenio! Whenever I think about ousting other leaders I'll let you know.

As they say in history, wait... the one who laughs last, well, laughs... last, not first.

Things looked good for your famous fellow Austrian in 1939. They looked a little less good five years later. Who knows? Maybe -- again like your famous fellow Austrian -- you're singing victory a bit too quickly.

Besides, isn't it at least a bit depressing that the only real reason why you write this post is that you want to hurt other people's feelings? I mean, we all know there are such people, but why do you have to be one of them?
In Response

by: Boris from: Russia
April 08, 2014 07:34
Eugenio from "Vienna", everyone reading this website knows you are not just some commenter from Vienna. You are so typical of your sort - you can't even be honest about who you are and what you say, it's just lies lies lies. At least my name is obviously false here. I'd hardly give my real name and risk getting hacked by a russophile tech hacker. If you are so keen to see other countries "liberated", please answer me this question:

If Ivangorod had a referendum whether to join Estonia or stay in Russia, what would the result be? And if it was to vote to return to its historial Estonian boundaries, would you allow it? Would you allow any of the ethnic groups that have population majorities within Russia have free and fair referendums to see if they would like to secede? eg, Tuva (82%), Chuvasia (67.7%), Dagestan (88%)? Or even we-cannot-let-them-go Chechnya? After all, these republics have non-Russian majority populations.
I think you would not allow this. Double standards is the reason the world is wary of Russia, as no one likes to be pushed around by the school bully.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 08, 2014 13:44
Dear ASHEPE, just one technical remark: "my famous fellow Austrian" did not happen to have any nuclear arms and had a pretty bad idea of attacking the Soviet Union, which at the end of the day brought the German losers into a lot of .... .
As far as Russia's actions today are concerned, are you really suggesting that bankrupt NATO states are today in a position to start a war on Russia because of Crimea and/or Donetsk? From what I know, not even such a smart guy as Senator McCain is suggesting to do so :-).
Dear BORIS, how should I know what the outcome of a referendum in Ivangorod or in Daghestan would be? I really have absolutely no idea (neither does one see people in Ivangorod or Daghestan storm official buildings and hang banners of foreign states one them - there must be a reason for this, I guess).
But I do know what the outcome of a referendum in CATALUNYA - to be held in NOVEMBER - is likely to be: it will be an outright NO to being a part of the EU and NATO member state Spain. That situation is likely to be in the focus of the media in the months to come, and not something (not) happening in Ivangorod or Daghestan.
In Response

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
April 11, 2014 15:26
Dear EUGENIO, just one technical remark: "your famous fellow Austrian" did not happen to have any nuclear arms because nobody did at the time, and he had the pretty bad idea of attacking the Soviet Union only in 1941, not in 1939. In 1939, he and his pal Uncle Joe signed (via their lackays Molotov and von Ribbentrop) a treaty with a quite famous secret appendix... thus showing how much they could do together. Ach, mein Führer, if only you hadn't decided to change your mind...

So again: thinks looked well for the Leader in 1939, but not so well in 1945. These things happen...

No, the (quite wealthy actually, not at all bankrupt) NATO countries are quite probably not going to do anything about the Russian Anschluss, even if it includes Donetsk. Just as, well, Daladier and Chaberlain did nothing about the German Anschluss. And then came the time for taking the Sudetenland and establishing a Protectorate in Bohemia (to protect the rights of locals... sounds vaguely familiar...). And again nothing, no reaction. I guess Germany got the impression that there never would be any reaction, which explains that Poland thing. But then...

Let us both hope that the current водитель will prove wiser than your famous fellow Austrian.

As for Catalonia -- have a look at what Radio i Televisió de Catalunya have to say about the various parties in the business. They don't want to be a part of Spain, but they do want to be a part of both the EU and NATO... Just as Scotland does. (In the Scotland deal, by the way, one of the best arguments used by those opposed to independence is exactly that Scotland would have to reapply for all those international bodies from scratch... Now why would that be a good argument, in your opinion?:-)

See ya!

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 08, 2014 09:41
VIDEO: Venice Referendum: Crimea encouraged vote to take place -
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 08, 2014 14:14
VIDEO: All roads lead...out of Rome? Sardinia plans secession referendum -
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 08, 2014 15:55
VIDEO: Video: Pro-Russian activists scuffle with police, storm local admin building in Donetsk, Ukraine -

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or