The death of Rahimov and the end of an era: Do the Dead Bury Their Own Dead?

Today the body of Murtaza, son of Gubaidulla Rahimov, the father-founder and first president of post-Soviet Bashkortostan, one of the largest republics in the Russian Federation, was laid to rest. The fact that Putin himself attended his funeral speaks to the role this figure played in Russian politics. Putin, who avoids unnecessary movements and appearances in public, remained true to himself by attending the farewell ceremony, where the honor guard was temporarily removed from the coffin.

Rahimov was a heavyweight in post-Soviet Russian politics, one of the strongest regional leaders alongside figures like Luzhkov or Rossel if one looks at all regions, and one of the few alongside the still living Shaymiyev and Aushev if one looks at the Muslim regions. And when it comes specifically to Bashkortostan, his death revealed different attitudes toward him. While Russians and Tatars remember him mostly with unkind words for his «Bashkir nationalism,» many Bashkirs remember him fondly for the same reason. After all, during his time, Bashkortostan had the highest level of autonomy, and the Bashkirs, as the titular nation, received demonstrable attention.

Yes, it must be said that today many Tatars nostalgically remember Shaimiyev, Ingush remember Aushev, Bashkirs remember Rahimov, and many Russians remember Boris Yeltsin and the «cursed nineties». Because much of what was then seems unattainable now — such as freedom of religion, media and political life, opposition on the streets and in parliament, direct elections of regional heads, declarations of sovereignty and republican constitutions, compulsory study of a second official language in their schools, friendly relations with the world and active international cooperation, and much, much more.

Therefore, in comparison with those who trampled all this underfoot, the leaders associated with these achievements begin to be remembered warmly. However, all this is nothing but self-deception, which is characteristic of human nature. After all, no matter how much Yeltsin may now appear to be the opposite of Putin, it was he who brought the latter to power and gave him all its fullness. And even under Yeltsin, the parliament was shot down, massacres were carried out in Chechnya, the 1996 elections were manipulated, and finally the «Successor» operation was carried out, which required the bombing of Russian apartment buildings and a second war in Chechnya.

Similarly, however much Shaimiyev, Aushev, and Rahimov may appear to be the opposite of the current Moscow puppets in these republics, it was they who handed over power to them, exchanging it for prosperity for their families and clans, or simply immunity from persecution. So it is no coincidence that Putin personally attended Rahimov’s funeral. Of course, it was not out of any great love for him, because he was one of those political heavyweights who were pushed into the shadows by Putin’s role as Sobchak’s «bag man.» But they willingly agreed to it, which means that they bear their share of responsibility for what is happening now.

So, despite the advantages of these realities in comparison with the present, the peoples of this country should understand one thing — if such an opportunity arises again, it is necessary not only to trust leaders who have emerged from the bureaucratic system, but also not to trust leaders in general wholeheartedly, equating them with the prospects of a particular nation or republic. Conscious representatives of the people should unite around common and clear goals, subordinate their leader to them and evaluate his policies on the basis of these goals, instead of giving him a free hand to do anything and everything just because it is necessary. Today, in fact, the saying «let the dead bury their own dead» has come true. And one dead person — Rahimov, who is already a political dead person and may become a physical dead person in the near future — buried him.

But the peoples, if they want to revive and live, will have to turn this page and enter that future in which their destiny will no longer depend on bad or «good» dictators, but on their consciousness and determination, an example of which the Ukrainian nation is demonstrating to the peoples of Russia today.

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