The All-Russian population census showed a steady downward trend in the number of the Tatar nation. In 2002 there were 5 554 600 Tatars living in Russia, in 2010 this number dropped to 5 310 600, and in 2021 it completely collapsed to 4 713 669. That is, the depopulation of the Tatar nation has not only continued over the past decades – it is accelerating at a terrible pace.
Just calculate: if we are already losing 600 000 every 10 years, when will the Tatars run out? After all, we are already significantly less than 5 million! In 30 years, the Tatars will not be the second largest people of the Russian Federation, but only the fourth one, letting the Chechens and the Avars go ahead – after all, while the number of the Tatars is declining, the number of the Chechens and the Avars is growing.
However, this is an optimistic forecast, which is based on the assumption that the trend will not continue, and the rate of depopulation of the Tatars will at least stop.
Ahead of the soothing exclamations about “census the Tatars in Bashkortostan”, we note that the last census was different in electronic form, which means that all data immediately was sent to Rosstat, while before everything was first corrected by the Territorial body of the Federal State Statistics Service for the Republic of Bashkortostan and only then submitted to Rosstat.
Yes, it is possible that in Bashkortostan there were registrations and other attempts to increase the number of the Bashkirs at the expense of the Tatars. But we should admit that these are insignificant figures that in no way change the general state of affairs. The problem is much more serious than the reduction in the number of the Tatars in Bashkortostan. The Tatar population of the Republic of Bashkortostan decreased by 4.5% for the period between censuses, and across Russia by 11.25%. You can see the difference.
What is the main reason for such a large-scale decline in the number of the Tatar population in the Russian Federation?
Let’s be honest: although the covid, the financial crisis and the Russian-Ukrainian war have made a blow on all the indigenous peoples of the Russian Federation, this is far from the main reason for the depopulation of the Tatars. While a relatively small number of the Tatars are dying in the war, even if they are all of reproductive age. Our main killer is not high mortality and not even modest birth rates. The Tatars are taken by assimilation.
One can give birth even to 5 children, but if they go to Moscow or St. Petersburg, or if they create families with Russians, that’s it! That’s no-good. It is as if for the Tatar people these children did not exist at all.
The Tatars, as a nation, cannot survive in the Russian Federation – only in their own independent state. All other options are slow, protracted euthanasia.
If in XIX and XX centuries the basis for the Tatar nation was religion, language, and the closeness of the national community (a relatively low percentage of interethnic marriages), today each of these factors has greatly devalued. Survival (preservation of the nation, language and culture) is determined by the presence of the state. The Tatars do not have their own state, and the Republic of Tatarstan did not and does not perform such functions, since it is a quasi-state entity, the purpose of which is to use the Tatar population in the interests of the empire.
There is another problem: the Tatar elites have been deliberately promoting the cult of survival for decades instead of the cult of struggle and expansion. Adaptation instead of resistance.
Just listen to the speeches of all, without exception, influential Tatar leaders, bosses, scientists, businessmen, poets and writers (with the exception of F. Bayramova). These are eternal conversations that it could be worse, that you shouldn’t stick your head out, because you can suffer. Like, it’s not yet time to fight – we are weak, and Russia is strong. This whole philosophy of growing vegetables instead of strugglers – it has led us to a dead end of history.
While the Tatars are talking about the senselessness of the struggle for independence, we are losing more than half a million people every 10 years. Nations are like a person: if they have a goal and aspirations, they fight and develop. Even at the cost of losses and trials! If there is no goal, the organism fades away, the nation disappears.
This means that the current generation of the Tatars will either start a bloody struggle for independence (and as a result, gain freedom and independence in this struggle), or hand over the Tatar project to the museum. There is no third option.