Mari El Groups Warn of Social Explosion if Moscow Proceeds with Amalgamation Plans

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Suggestions emanating from Moscow that the Russian government plans to amalgamate portions of Mari El with Tatarstan have infuriated many of the Finno-Ugric nation’s members who see this plan whether formal or informal via agglomeration as “the death knell” of their people.

Now, the ten largest public organizations in Mari El – ranging from Mariy Ushem to environmental activists to Mari veterans of the Soviet and Russian militaries — have unanimously approved an open letter to Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Mishustin denouncing the idea.

The open letter notes that up to now, talk about such moves has been unofficial, but the details that officials discussing it have provided suggest that such remarks reflect the thinking of senior officials in Moscow. Those who think they can redraw the borders within the country at will are engaged in a most dangerous game.

“In our opinion,” the Mari El groups say, the entire project as least as far as Mari El and Tatarstan is concerned is “insane” and will create problems not only for Mari El and Tatarstan but have a negative impact on all republics and regions who will thus live in fear that something similar might happen to them.

We do not have the right to remain silent, they say. The peoples of the Middle Volga care profoundly about their lands and aren’t going to sit still while officials in these republics, installed by Moscow but having now roots among the population, defer to oligarchs and ignore the interests of the people.

That is because, the authors say, any such plan, whether full amalgamation or amalgamation via agglomeration, “will inevitably lead to the harm of the national rights and interests of the indigenous population” and violate Russia’s responsibilities as a signatory to various UN documents.

Such unification from above violates the constitutions of Russia, Mari El and Tatarstan and must not be allowed to go forward, especially if this effort is conducted by Moscow officials and their local agents “behind closed doors.” That will only feed suspicions that the powers that be are even more negative with respect to the peoples of the region than may be the case.

Those pushing these ideas are thus promoting both secessionist attitudes and social explosions because the peoples will not sit still for such manipulation. “Our lands must remain for our children and grandchildren. The children must be born on Mari land, build their homes, work the land, and promote their well-being.”

Ill-advised unification schemes will threaten all that, and they will be opposed, the signatories say.

Paul Goble,
Staunton, June 29

Source: Window on Eurasia

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