October 15, 2022 is a non-anniversary but a notable date in Tatar history. 470 years since the capture of Kazan Khanate by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. Memorial Day of the Defenders of Kazan.
The confrontation between the Moscow kingdom and the Kazan Khanate in the 16th century was a feudal war for territories until the fall of Kazan. After the capture of Tatar capital and the accession of the liquidated khanate lands to the possessions of Moscow Tsar, relations for many centuries passed into the format of colonial dependence, enslavement, the use of Tatar lands and Tatar people as a resource for the growth of a cruel, strong and aggressive Eastern European state with its capital in Moscow.
After the capture of Kazan, the entire territory of the Middle Volga region was captured by the Moscow kingdom. In addition to Tatars, the power of Moscow Tsar was extended to many peoples who had previously been subject to the former Kazan Khanate: Chuvash, Udmurts, Mari, Bashkirs. For the first time, Moscow annexed a large neighboring state beyond the borders of the former principalities of Russia, to which it now refers itself in its historiography. Soon after, Astrakhan Khanate (1556) and Siberian Khanate (1582) were conquered and annexed, which made it possible to almost double the territory of the Muscovite kingdom. Kazan Khanate became a victim of the imperial ambitions of Ivan the Terrible, his occupation policy towards the conquered peoples, aimed at their destruction. The planned Russification and Christianization of Tatars began. In parallel, there was an operation to erase the memory of the people: about their heroes, outstanding personalities, exploits, successes and achievements. This operation is still ongoing.
The aspiration of Tatars to declare independence in the 90s. of the last century was understood in Moscow as Tatar separatism, although the demands of Tatars were based, among other things, on the fact of the siege and liquidation of the Kazan Khanate. Tatars of the Republic of Tatarstan repeatedly went out on October 15 to rallies under the slogans “The goal is independence!” and “Freedom!” At the rallies, they talked about the problems of their people: the closure of Tatar schools, the translation of education into Russian, the curtailment of Tatar television and radio broadcasting, the liquidation of Tatar newspapers and magazines, and the oppression of cultural and religious identity.
The issue of Tatarstan sovereignty has not yet been finally resolved; moreover, there is a tendency for the situation to worsen. It is quite possible that even operetta independence will be transformed into an ordinary federal district with regions and puppet governors.
The situation with the monument to the defenders of Kazan, the installation of which Tatar public has been seeking for more than 20 years, looks like a mockery. In response, the authorities of the Republic (not without prompting, no doubt, by Kremlin) erected another monument – to the invaders who died during the capture of Kazan. The answer is typically Russian: if you want a monument, here is a monument to Russian killers of Tatars; if you want a cultural and religious identity – here are new mosques for you, but all controlled by Federal Security Service; you speak at rallies in memory of the heroes of the defense of Kazan – here is your permission to rallies, but the theme will be like this and like that! And for deviation from the planned topics you will have a trial, persecution, liquidation of a public organization. So, on June 10, 2022, the Supreme Court of Tatarstan liquidated the All-Tatar Public Center “for extremism”, namely, for the rally organized last year by the All-Tatar Public Center on the Day of Remembrance of the defenders of Kazan. At first, they imposed a fine, and an attempt to protest this decision in court only worsened the situation. The result is obvious.
Another Federal Security Service trick is interesting: the authorities of the Republic of Tatarstan proposed to hold a holiday for all the killed heroes of Tatarstan on October 15th. But Tatar patriots annually on October 12 celebrate Хәтер көне – the Day of Remembrance of the defenders of Kazan, who died during the capture of the city in 1552. The Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan invented the date on the 13th day of the month of Shawwal (Hijri). It was decided to remember the defenders of the city on this day. Last year it fell on May 25th. That is, there is an attempt to offset the national memory by mixing the heroes of the struggle for independence with the heroes of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Second World War and other defenders of the Russian fatherland.
Aidar Halim, the patriarch of Tatar literature, wrote, “Violence, obscene language, vodka, dirt, lice, deceit, fires, arson, executions, rape, suicide – that’s what Russian people brought me. And nothing more”.
With all due respect to Aidar Khalim, I would dare to add: abuse and humiliation of people who did not want to forget that they are Tatars.