Tatar Children’s Book on Conquest of Kazan in 1552 Outrages Russian

Garif_tatarA Tatar author’s richly illustrated children’s book on Ivan the Terrible’s conquest of Kazan in 1552 that asserts Tatarstan’s “struggle for the restoration of independence continues in our day” has prompted a Russian activist to demand that Moscow intervene to ban the book for “falsifying history to the detriment of Russia.”

On the “Svobodnaya pressa” website at the end of last week, Yan Stashkevich says that “children’s literature in Tatarstan is teaching that the Russian state is a mob of marauders, thieves and usurpers” and that the Tatar’s “struggle for the restoration of independence” has never ended.

And the Moscow journalist adds that this case is “not about ignoring the role of the Red Army in the victory over fascism and not about the revision of the results of the Second World War but about a war which ended … 500 years ago,” when the Russian tsar conquered the Kazan khanate.

Despite the antiquity of these events, Stashkevich continues, debates that “are no joke” have broken out in Tatarstan over these events. Moreover, he says, the Russian president’s commission on historical falsifications has been asked to look into the matter, a potentially disturbing extension of what Dmitry Medvedev said he was creating that body for.

The current “scandal” broke out following the publication in 5000 copies of a children’s book entitled “The Liberation Struggle of the Tatar People” by Nurulla Garif, a Tatar historian who describes the conquest of Kazan in 1552, the Christianization of the Muslims of the Middle Volga, and “’the five-hundred-year-long war” of the Tatars for independence from Russia.

According to Garif, Stashkevich says, this period has been one of “unceasing war against Russian ‘occupation,’” the Russian state “a mob of marauders, thieves and usurpers,” and Moscow’s representatives on the scene “’vengeful’” men capable of all sorts of crimes including burying Tatars who resist them alive.

The Moscow journalist says that at the end of his book, Garif calls on his young readers “not to follow stereotypes” but rather to “think about the lessons of history, in particular over the themes which consider ‘Moscow-Kazan relations.’” But to give them direction, Stashkevich says, Garif illustrates the page on which this appeal is made in a highly suggestive way.

On that page, Garif’s book shows “a black crow with two heads which reminds one of the state shield of Russia rapaciously attacking the tower of the Tatar queen Syuyumbika, the symbol of Tatarstan independence.” And given that clear message, Stashkevich suggests, it is no surprise that many Russians have been outraged.

Several weeks ago, one of their number Aleksandr Ovchinnikov, who teaches at a higher educational institution in Kazan, wrote to the Tatarstan republic procuracy asking that Garif’s book be examined by experts to determine whether its content was extremist and thus subject to a ban.

The republic procuracy immediately sent it to the Mardzhani Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Tatarstan, but scholars there, Stashkevich recounts, “shared the views of Nurulla Garif on the national path of the Tatar people and assured the procuracy” that the book in question did not contain any “call to national or religious hostility.”

Moreover, the Moscow journalist says, the Tatarstan historians accused Ovchinnikov of being engaged “in a provocation of destructive processes, pseudo-patriotism and the exacerbation of inter-ethnic antagonism.” After that, the procuracy dropped the case, and articles attacking Ovchinnikov began to appear “on the pages of the local press.”

These articles made it clear that “the scholars who had conducted the expert assessment of Garif’s book are his former colleagues with whom he had worked closely in the quite recent past,” Stashkevich reports, something that “casts doubt on ‘the independence’ of their expert assessment.”

However that may be, Ovchinnikov for his part has raised the possibility of sending Garif’s book to the Russian president’s commission on blocking attempts at the falsification of history and in the mean time “has again turned to the [Tatarstan] procuracy” which has again passed the volume to the same Institute of History, thus “closing the circle.”

Because Tatarstan’s Institute of History is headed by Rafael Khakimov, a longtime advisor to that republic’s president, Mintimir Shaimiyev, this incident might prove to be little more than yet another Russian probe against the latter, an effort to cast doubt on his loyalty to Moscow by questioning his ability to control his Middle Volga republic.

But even if that is so, this complaint and the readiness of some like Ovchinnikov to turn to the presidential commission is a disturbing indication of the way in which Moscow’s ostensible effort to deal with discussions of the Soviet role in World War II could rapidly become an attack on any independent thinking on other historical questions as well.

And because history is ultimately where many struggles about the present and future take place, both the original impulse between Dmitry Medvedev’s commission and the extension of the application of concern about “harm to Russia’s reputation” are a threat to far more than the righting of history: they are a threat to those who would make it as well.

Paul Goble

Source: Window on Eurasia


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7 responses to “Tatar Children’s Book on Conquest of Kazan in 1552 Outrages Russian



  2. Nearly all of whatever you say is supprisingly accurate and it makes me ponder the reason why I had not looked at this in this light previously. Your article really did turn the light on for me personally as far as this particular subject goes. But there is one position I am not necessarily too comfy with and whilst I try to reconcile that with the central idea of your point, permit me see what the rest of the readers have to say.Well done.

  3. SAXON


    • nr2

      niet tatarstan is the ancestral home of tatars allways was and allways wil lbe russians are just parasites there

  4. With people like “CARLOS” and “SAXON” YELLING their Nazi tendencies here, I’m starting to root for the Tatars – and all the other minorities of Russia. All occupiers, bullies and nazis believing “we once had this and that piece of land so it belongs to us now and for ever” should be forced on their knees and be taken away everything. The more they yell, scream and swear, the more should be taken away.

    Nothing is “final” when it comes to politics. Russia, China and USA will break. I mean… Does any Russian really believe Chechnya is worth the life of all the Russians killed during the conflict? Was it really worth Beslan school massacre? Really? Nothing is worth the life of a child, especially not a piece of land you took by force to begin with.

    Sure, Russia “kept” Chechnya – for now. Russia will “keep” Tartastan and Mari and all the other nations… For now. But they are pushing people, and one day they will unite… Sooner the better.

    I have nothing against the Orthodox Church or Russia, but Imperialistic Nazis will burn in hell, if not in this world then the next one.

  5. A Russian Federation that is a rival to the Euro union , a euro asia union if you like . With Russian as the Federal language but sweeping national autonomy for Komi , Tatar , Urdmurt , Mari , Mordivian , Khanty , Mansi , Nenet , Karilian , Bashkar , Kalmyk and other Federation peoples . And a return of Volga German lands .

  6. It’s very interesting information. Thank you very much.
    Perhaps you know, that an outstanding Tatar historian-scientist D. Iskhakov wrote in 2000: “the real history of Tatars, of the people in every respect historical, is not written yet”.
    However, recently were published books about the unwritten (hidden) real history of Tatars, written by independent Tatar Historian Galy Yenikeyev.
    There are a lot of previously little-known historical facts, as well as 16 maps and illustrations in this book.
    This book presents a new, or rather “well-forgotten old” information about the true history of the Tatars and other Turkic peoples.
    It must be said, that there are many pro-Chinese and Persian falsifications of the “wild nomads” etc. in the official history.
    Therefore, primarily we should know the truth about the meaning of the names “Mongol” and “Tatar” (“Tartar”) in the medieval Eurasia:
    the name “Mongol” until the 17th-18th centuries meant belonging to a political community, and was not the ethnic name. While “the name “Tatar” was “the name of the native ethnos (nation) of Genghis Khan …” , “…Genghis Khan and his people did not speak the language, which we now call the “Mongolian”…” (Russian academic-orientalist V.P.Vasiliev, 19th century). This is also confirmed by many other little known facts.
    So in fact Genghis Khan was a Tatar and a great leader of the all Turkic peoples. But with time many of his descendants and tribesmen became spiritually disabled and forgot him and his invaluable doctrine and covenants… Tatars of Genghis Khan -medieval Tatars – were one of the Turkic nations, whose descendants now live in many of the fraternal Turkic peoples of Eurasia – among the Tatars, Kazakhs, Bashkirs, Uighurs, and many others.
    And few people know that the ethnos of medieval Tatars, which stopped the expansion of the Persians and the Chinese to the West of the World in Medieval centuries, is still alive. Despite the politicians of the tsars Romanovs and Bolsheviks dictators had divided and scattered this ethnos to different nations…
    About everything above mentioned and a lot of the true history of the Tatars and other fraternal Turkic peoples, which was hidden from us, had been written, in detail and proved, in the book “Forgotten Heritage of Tatars” (by Galy Yenikeyev).
    There are a lot of previously little-known historical facts, as well as 16 maps and illustrations in this book. On the cover of this book you can see the true appearance of Genghis Khan. It is his lifetime portrait. Notes to the portrait from the book says: “…In the ancient Tatar historical source «About the clan of Genghis-Khan» the author gives the words of the mother of Genghis-Khan: «My son Genghis looks like this: he has a golden bushy beard, he wears a white fur coat and rides on a white horse» [34, p. 14]. As we can see, the portrait of an unknown medieval artist in many ways corresponds to the words of the mother of the Hero, which have come down to us in this ancient Tatar story. Therefore, this portrait, which corresponds to the information of the Tatar source and to data from other sources, we believe, the most reliably transmits the appearance of Genghis-Khan…”.
    This e-book you can easily find in the Internet, on Smashwords company website:

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