Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia stokes separatist fervor within Russia

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Aq Bars, the coat of arms of Tatarstan.

I knew this was going to happen (New York Times).
Tatarstan is a long way from South Ossetia. While South Ossetia is a poor border region of Georgia battered by war, Tatarstan is an economic powerhouse in the heart of Russia, boasting both oil reserves and the political stability that is catnip to investors.

But the two places have one thing in common: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, both have given rise to separatist movements. And when President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia formally recognized the breakaway areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations two weeks ago, activists in Kazan, the Tatar capital, took notice.

An association of nationalist groups, the All-Tatar Civic Center, swiftly published an appeal that “for the first time in recent history, Russia has recognized the state independence of its own citizens” and expressed the devout wish that Tatarstan would be next.
Another region amongst others referenced in the article is Bashkortostan (also Turkic):
A similar stirring came out of Bashkortostan, a major petrochemical center where ethnic Bashkirs make up about 30 percent of the population. A small organization called Kuk Bure, which has pushed for the Bashkir language to be required in public schools, issued a manifesto accusing Moscow of “double standards” for championing ethnic groups like the Abkhaz and Ossetians while ignoring their platform.

“The time has come to ask each federal official — and they have multiplied by the thousands in Bashkortostan in recent years — ‘What are you doing for the Bashkir people?’ ” said the statement, which was posted on the group’s Web site.
Neither of these two Turkic-speaking regions actually border on another country though, so even if both of them were to become independent (which of course is not going to happen) it would be a situation that I don't think exists anywhere else in the world: two independent countries landlocked and bordering each other but both surrounded on all sides by a single larger country. Lesotho is the closest example of something like this.

It would look like this:


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