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A very diverse state, the Middle Volga is composed of six different States of the Union (Mordovia, Chuvashia, Tatarstan, Bashiria, Mari El and Udmurtia) as well as four different Oblasts within the Russian Federation - the Oblasts of Tyumen, Ulyanov, Nizhny Novgorod and Yekaterinburg-Ural. The region, which is relatively small, has eleven official languages.
With thirty-five million inhabitants, the Middle Volga is very heavily populated. The region is one of the industrial centres of the Eurasian Union, and is one of the wealthiest nations without major reserves of natural resources in Eurasia. Kazan and other cities in the region are important industrial and financial centres, although the agricultural sector still makes up a vital part of the economy.
The largest and most influential of the states in the Middle Volga is Tatarstan. Tatarstan is, as its name indicates, the homeland of the Volga Tatar people in Eurasia, although roughly two-thirds of all Volga Tatars live outside of Tatarstan. The State claims to be the successor to the Golden Horde, the independent successor of the Mongol Empire in Russia. With a population of 7 million inhabitants, Tatarstan is the seventh largest State of the Union in Eurasia, and the largest one in OTL Russia (without, of course, counting the Russian Federation), and, with 42 seats in the Duma, is one of the most important blocs of parliamentary representation.
Tatarstan is highly industrialised, ranking second only behind Moscow Oblast in industrial output. Furthermore, the region produces 32 million tonnes of crude oil per year. Tatarstan is one of the most highly developed and wealthy States of the Union, ranking highly in healthcare, education, lifespan and income.
Tatarstan's origin comes from Turkic tribes, most notably those which established the mediaeval nation of Volga Bulgaria around 700 CE. The Volga Bulgars established an advanced trade network as the midpoint between the Baltic and Mediterranean trade basins, a practice that continues to this day. Despite pressure by surrounding nations like the Khazars, Kievian Rus' and the Cumans, the Bolghars survived until the Mongol conquests in the 1200s.
The Bolghars who remained in the area of Tatarstan were intermingled with the Turkic Kipchak tribes that arrived with the Mongols, creating what is known as the "Volga Tatars". The Tatars adopted a new Kipchak language and abandoned their old Oghuz language (today the Chuvash language), while retaining many practices of Bolghar civilisation. Many of the centres of the post-Mongol Golden Horde were located around Tatarstan. However, the Tatars did not reach full dominance over their own state until the collapse of the Golden Horde and the establishment of the local Khanate of Kazan, which was centered on Tatarstan's modern capital. After being conquered by Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s, Tatarstan underwent Russian rule, and tough policies of Russification. However, the Tatars were too thickly populated, and had too much of an established culture, to be wiped out. Instead of abandoning their Islamic faith, the group adopted a new, modified version of Islam, Jadidism, which preached tolerance of all religions. The Tatar language survived and even flourished during Russian rule.
In World War One, Tatars provided many important leaders to the struggle, and were becoming increasingly represented as the voice of Russia's oppressed minority groups. Their leader in Parliament, Sadrí Maqsudí Arsal, was, after the Autumn Revolutions, one of the first nations called to help draft up the new Constitution of Eurasia. The State of Tatarstan, one of the first to be established in the region, was born.
Tatar ideology was not so aggressively anti-Russian as that of other states around them as well as throughout Eurasia. While some states in dire need of higher populations underwent extreme policies of "naturalisation" regarding ethnic Russian children, beyond the recogniton of Tatar as the sole official tongue of the nation, the faith of Jadidism remained supreme, and advocated for tolerance between ethnic groups. Arsal's government was multiethnic, representing Tatars and Russians in more or less equal proportion. However, due to the sole nature of Tatar rule and the encouragement by the Russian government for ethnic Russians to "return to the Motherland", the ethnic proportion of Russians decreased throughout the period.
Government and Politics
Much like other states in the Eurasian Union, the government is a republican state under the auspices of the Eurasian constitution. However, unlike the average Eurasian state, Tatarstan is not fully parliamentary, but rather semi-presidential, with the President (Hөkүmәte, currently Sadrí Arsal's granddaughter Gönül Pultar) elected independently by universal suffrage. The President elects the Cabinet and then, while accountable to Parliament, acts as a separate third branch of government.
The legislative body of Tatarstan is made up of the Kurultai, the one-chamber Parliament. Currently, the leading party in Parliament is United Tatarstan (Berdәm Tatarstan), which controls 37 of the 100 seats in the Kurultai. Berdәm Tatarstan is in coalition with the Tatar Communist Party (Tatarlar Kommunistik Partijase) and the Just Tatarstan Party (Gadel Tatarstan Partijase). Pultar, the President of Tatarstan, belongs to Berdәm Tatarstan.
The seven million inhabitants of Tatarstan are primordially (63.5%) Tatar, but the nation, especially around the capital city of Kazan, is very diverse. Tatarstan has a vibrant community of ethnic Russians, which previously made up almost as many people as Tatars, but now compose of only 24.7% of the population. 4.8% of the population is ethnically Chuvash. Finally, the remnant population has registered nearly 50 different ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Mordvins, Mari and Bashkirs.
Islam is the religion of 42.5% of the Tatar population, while a further 37.2% is nonreligious. The final 21.3% is almost homogeneously Orthodox.
The second largest of the states in the Middle Volga is Bashkiria (Bashkir: Bašҡiria), also known as Bashkortostan (Bashkir: Başqortostan). Not only the second most populated but also the largest republic, Bashkiria has often been in healthy competition with the Tatar state to the west. Bashkiria is the easternmost region in the Middle Volga region, and has close ties to its bordering nations in the Ural regions of Central Siberia and Ugria. Furthermore, it is Kazakhstan's closest economic ally to the north.
Bashkiria has 36 representatives, making it the ninth largest State of the Union, only slightly smaller than Adyghea. The capital city of Ufa is home to Eurasia's largest chemical processing sector and the Middle Volga's largest oil refinery. Therefore, heavy industry makes up the majority of the Republic's economy, and is one of the most important parts of the Eurasian economy.
Bashkirs share much of their history with the nearby Tatars. Very similar ethnically and linguistically, the Bashkir population has been tied to the tribal lifestyle of the Kipchaks for most of their history. Distinction truly came after the establishment of the Khanate of Kazan, as Bashkir bi (warlords) were divided between Kazan, the Nogai Khanate and the Sibir' Khanate. After annexation by Russia, the Bashkirs also followed in the footsteps of the Tatars, establishing Muslim Russian rather than independent associations. Tatars and Bashkirs were very closely tied together; as Kazan became too large and "European", Ufa became the centre for the Islamic organisational movement and eventually the Bashkir independence movement.
The Ufa Bashkirs would have rather joined the same state as Arsal's Tatar state - proposals were even drafted up for the creation of an "Idel-Ural State" that would comprise a federation of Tatars, Bashkirs and Chuvashes. However, after the Chuvash Assembly rejected the proposal and decided to declare their own state, the idea fell apart. The Eurasian Constitution recognised Bashkiria, rather than Idel-Ural, as a state, and, despite close ties between Tatarstan and Bashkiria, they eventually developed into two different nations with different identities.
Government and Politics
Much like Tatarstan, the legislative assembly is called the Kurultai (Ҡoroltaj). Because of the wish for Bashkortostan to be federated with Tatarstan, the Bashkir constitution is modelled along the lines of the Tatar one; the government is semi-presidential, with the President's Cabinet being independent from the Koroltaj.
The Bashkiri government, unlike that of Tatarstan, is esentially bipartisan. The Menshevik, Socialist and Nationalist parties do not field any important candidates in Bashkiria, and they have never been in government. Instead, elections are a two-horse race in which one of the two parties has almost always gotten a full majority over Parliament. The current party in rule is the centre-right party, United Bashkortostan (Berҙәm Başqortostan).
Bashkortostan is more heterogeneous than Tatarstan. Only 47.2% of the population is ethnically Bashkir; the second largest group, Tatars, make up nearly 24% of the population, and 19% of the population is ethnically Russian. There's also significant communities of Mari (5.5%) and Chuvashes (3.7%). Another 0.6% belongs to one of nearly twenty ethnic groups recorded in the nation.
The Erzya-Moksha Federation (in Erzya: Èrzjat dy Mokŝet-n' Federacija) is another of the States of the Union located in the Middle Volga. The Erzya-Moksha Federation is also referred to as Mordovia (Mordoviya) and is the westernmost of all States of the Union in the Middle Volga region. Mordovia is less industrially developed than either Tatarstan or Bashkiria, but standards of living are higher. Mordovia's four million inhabitants are divided almost equally between urban and rural dwellers, and Mordovia has a high proportion of non-titular nationalities as well as of ethnic diversity. The capital, Saran-osh (or Saransk to Russians) is also the capital of the Erzya state, the larger of the two divisions in Mordovia, while the smaller one's government resides in Lašma. Mordovia's four million inhabitants make Mordovians the third largest Finno-Ugric group, after Finns and Hungarians.
Mordvin chieftains have fought each other (with success) and external threat (with less success) since the tenth century. The Mordvins arranged for an alliance with Kievian Rus' against the Bolghars; one of the three Mordvin tribes, the Meschera tribe, was assimilated into the Russian culture and eventually disappeared as a distinct ethnic group. However, the two primary tribal divisions, the Erzya and Moksha, remained in their tribal groups.
During Mongol rule, Mordovia was first subjected to Tatar rule under the Naruçat Duchy of the Golden Horde, a trend that would continue to be in place throughout much of Mordvin history. Mordvins were converted to Christianity, but even then they were lumped with the rest of the tribes of Idel-Ural under Tatar domination.
Russification was large amongst the cultured Mordvins. The Erzya and Moksha language was initially not codified, so that names and religious scripts were written in Russian. This meant that the upper classes (and, eventually, large segments of the population) would abandon the Moksha and Erzya traditional faith and traditions, and instead replace them with Russian customs. However, the Mordvin cultural tradition contuned. Tbe Bible was translated to Erzya in 1821. Changing from the Latin to the Cyrilic alphabet and Christianisation were two examples of the Russification process of Mordovia. However, it didn't compeltely succeed. The Mordvin language survived, and the religion retained many examples of the previous Mastoravic faith.
The Mordvin cultural movement rose during the late 1800s together with those in the rest of the Middle Volga. However, unlike movements in other areas (such as the Tatars, who wanted pan-Turkism), the Mordvins emphasised the difference between the two ethnic groups, the Erzya and the Moksha. They considered themselves sister tribes, allied but not the same. With the establishment of national autonomies after the Autumn Revolutions, and the new Constitutional Assembly, the majority of the population wanted to establish two states that included all of the thinly-spread Mordvin population, but that were divided between Erzyas and Mokshas.
This didn't turn out to be the case. Mordvin representatives were struck at the difference between claims between the Moksha and the Erzya. The Constituent Assembly agreed for the Mordvin state to include all Mordvin traditional lands (defeating a proposal that suggested establishing a state for only a third of the population and then having the other two-thirds move to the area) as long as the Mordvin state were united. Despite protests from both the representatives at the Assembly and the local population, eventually, faced between the choices of unity for the entirety of Mordvins or disunity for only a small proportion of them, the Mordvins consented to the creation of a united Mordvin state.
The state's unity, however, was limited. Mordovia's Constituent Assembly established a binational Federal State, composed of two "autonomous Nations joined in free Will and Spirit"; Erzonia, for the Erzya, and Mokshania, for the Mokshas. The Mordvin parliament was established as a Supreme Federal Council (Prjavton’ Federacijan’ Prjavtkuro), divided between the two states, and the central Mordvin government was quite weak.
Government and Politics
Mordovia is a confederal state composed of two very autonomous nations, Erzonia and Mokshania, which have independent constitutions and are allowed different official languages. While they have a coordinated taxation policy, their spending powers are devolved, which means that spending in both provinces is significantly different. The two countries have relegated specific sponts for each other; the President always belongs to a member elected by the Erzya, while the Head of the Council is elected by the Moksha.
The Supreme Federal Council, the Legislative branch of government, is put together not directly but rather by indirect election of the two provincial assemblies (which are directly elected). 55% of the SFC is elected by representatives from the Erzya Parliament, while 45% is elected from the Moksha one.
The current SFC is ruled by a coalition of the two regionalist parties, the Erzya-led Local Council Party (Tesken’ Prjavtkuro Partija) and the Moksha-led Vanguard (PRJA, an acronym for Per’fpjal’, or environment, Rava, or Volga River, and Jarmakt, or prosperity). They control 67 of the SFC's 101 seats. Surprisingly enough, the PRJA and the TPP do not side with any party on the national Duma, sitting as independent parties in opposition. The party that sits with the Mensheviks is the largest opposition to the PRJA-TPP coalition, and operates in coordination throughout Mordovia; it's the People's Party (Ras’ke Partija) with 21 seats. The remaining 13 seats mostly belong to the Progressive Liberal Alliance (Ikelev Jutycja Liberal Purnavks) which seats with the Progressive Union - The Liberals.
Approximately 70% of the population is ethnically Mordvin, up from approximately 35% in 1920. Of the 70%, 55% of the Mordvins are Erzya, and 45% are Moksha.
Chuvashia (Chuvash: Čăvaš En) is another of the States of the Union. Chuvashia is far more agrarian than the rest of the Middle Volga, with a strong agrarian sector and relatively less industry than the rest of the Middle Volga. Despite a lower output, however, Chuvashia has the highest human development index of every region in the Middle Volga. Chuvashia also has an important history as the (alleged) homeland of the Huns' descendants.