Frank Fukuyama noted on Twitter this week of Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization: “I can’t believe they think they can draft Crimean Tatars.” During Soviet times, Moscow deported large numbers of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia.
Since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation, authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea have subjected members of the ethnic minority to harassment, arbitrary detention, torture, and forced disappearance. Textbooks are being changed, mosques remade. “Assimilation, erasure of historic memory are revenge for political disloyalty, for reluctance to obey,” says historian Gulnara Bekirova. There are some 250,000 Tatars in Crimea.
Suleiman Khairullaiev was mistakenly identified in social media this week as “a deputy mufti.” RFE/RL’s Rim Gilfanov tells me, “He’s in fact head of the Association of Muslims in Ukraine and chairman of The Ulem (theological) Council of the Religious Administration of Muslims of Crimea (exiled in Kyiv).”
Khairullaiev’s Twitter post is clear enough. He speaks out here (Opens in a new window), telling his followers: Resist being drafted by the Russians, accept going to jail. If this fails and you’re sent into battle, surrender. If this fails and you’re unable to surrender, you know which way to shoot.
Iulia Joja has written (Opens in a new window) about the chaos Putin exports abroad. His partial mobilization has now started to unleash chaos in parts of his own Russian Federation. In Dagestan this week, women protesters (Opens in a new window) shouted at police, “Our children are not fertilizers. Russia attacked Ukraine — we’re not blind.” More than a quarter of a million men have left Russia since partial mobilization began, according to Russian security services.
* * *
Our friend Vladimir Kara-Murza is still in jail. Vladimir was arrested (Opens in a new window) outside his Moscow home in April following a CNN interview in which he criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We’ll continue to support Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Justice for Journalists Foundation (Opens in a new window) led by Maria Ordzhonikidze in London (I’m on the JJF advisory board).
Our friend Garry Kasparov was in Berlin this week. We’ve just started our joint project on Ukraine with his Renew Democracy Initiative (Opens in a new window) (RDI) led by executive director Uriel Epshtein in New York. I’ll share Garry’s Berlin interviews with Der Spiegel, Die Welt, and Der Tagesspiegel once they are published.
I’ll be back in Berlin in late October to host an American Purpose-RDI conference on Ukraine. I’m on my way this week to speak about the war with students and faculty at Texas A & M University. Thanks to the Alexander Hamilton Society, since springtime I’ve spoken as well at Wake Forest, Holy Cross, Fordham, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison — and in doing so have been able to learn what students in different parts of the country are thinking about Russia’s war (it’s encouraging).
We have an eye on Iran now, too. In early October, we’re planning a roundtable in Washington.
Now in their second week, protests have taken place in more than three dozen cities across Iran. They were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in a Tehran hospital three days after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for not abiding by the regime’s hijab rules.
Here’s (Opens in a new window) a video from RFE/RL’s Persian service of protesters chasing police in Tabriz in northwestern Iran. Security forces have reportedly killed dozens of people. More than a thousand have been arrested, according to Iran’s state media.
Here’s (Opens in a new window) our friend Roya Hakakian testifying before Congress last week. We’ve teamed up with Roya to plan our October program. Azar Nafisi joins us next week by Zoom (Opens in a new window). Read (Opens in a new window) Rob Satloff on how Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead, with the U.S doing little to head it off. Michael Mandelbaum wrote (Opens in a new window) this summer on how to prevent the mullahs from getting the bomb.
Meanwhile: Is it possible that state power in Russia and Iran is beginning to unravel? The levers of control and coercion in both places are formidable, yet such regimes do have expiration dates.
* * *
On the challenges to our democracy here, keep reading Frank (Fukuyama’s) series (Opens in a new window) on the administrative state and former member of Congress Mickey Edwards on our election laws (Opens in a new window). Watch for Rutgers historian Kate Epstein’s forthcoming essay on what she calls proceduralist, or rules-based, democracy. Writes Kate:
[It] may not sound like an inspiring (or smart) hill to die on, but properly understood … proceduralist systems protect us from our worst instincts and impel us to live up to our intellectual and moral potential as human beings. Their rules — their checks and balances — exist to prevent us from acting out of blind emotion or confirmation bias.
Kate joins us for a salon in Washington to ask “Why History?” on October 3. Chris Miller joins us in person on October 6 for a discussion of his new book, Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology.
We’ll keep pushing forward, but always with respect for history. Read (Opens in a new window) Bill Galston’s fine piece on George Washington, character, and leadership (the article is adapted from remarks Bill delivered at João Espada’s Estoril Political Forum in Portugal this summer). We’ve just hosted John Avlon on his Lincoln book (Opens in a new window).
We need models, sources of inspiration, and ways to make sense of things. We always need the arts and culture.
* * *
Polish composer Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki grew up in war and occupation. He was born on November 23, 1933, in Dębica (in Yiddish: Dembitz) in southeastern Poland, a town mostly inhabited by Hasidic Jews. His grandfather was German, his grandmother, Armenian. Dębica is a couple hours’ drive to the Ukrainian border.
“I remember the way cities were completely destroyed. I remember the way the Jewish citizens of Dębica ... were sent away to be murdered at Auschwitz. And I was idealistic enough to think that music could change people,” said Penderecki in 1995. During the communist era, he wrote religious music with secular purpose. “I knew that writing religious music was something that the authorities were very much against.”
Here’s (Opens in a new window) “Threnody,” an avant-garde work that garnered popular response. It was written in 1960, and only after Penderecki heard the piece performed did he dedicate the work to those who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It’s short, less than minutes, for string instruments.
In 1979, Penderecki wrote a Te Deum honoring John Paul II. Penderecki’s Polish Requiem, started in 1980, commemorates the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943.
In 1983, the Pope welcomed Penderecki in Rome. It was a year later that a 37-year-old Polish priest associated with Solidarność named Jerzy Popiełuszko was kidnapped by Poland’s communist secret police. The incident caused international outcry.
If you’re looking for a date when communism began to unravel, October 19, 1984, is a good candidate. That’s the date when Father Popiełuszko was abducted, beaten, tied up, stuffed into the trunk of a car, and then dropped — with a heavy stone strapped to his feet — into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek.
Here’s (Opens in a new window) Penderecki’s “Lacrimosa,” Latin for “weeping.”
No wonder the Poles cheer for the Ukrainians, the Ukrainians for the Tatars, and the people of Eastern Europe — I now keep hearing from friends — for the people of Iran.