Originally a religious and cultural project of Volga and Crimean Tatars against Russification, pan-Turkism expanded beyond the Romanov Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement was loosely linked to Jadidism, a modernizing reform movement within Islam. During World War I (1914–1918), elements within the Ottoman Empire advocated pan-Turkism across Central Asia, the Caucasus, and southern Russia in an attempt to turn the Turkic peoples against St. Petersburg. Under Joseph Stalin, pan-Turkism was targeted as a dangerous ideology and its supporters were ruthlessly purged. In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, pan-Turkism experienced a modest rival in the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and Central Asia. Tatars, Bashkirs, Chuvash, Tuvans, Khakhas, Altays, Sakha, and the Turkic peoples of the North Caucasus and the Central Asian republics began to reembrace their common cultural and linguistic heritage. During the early 1990s, Turkey actively supported such informal initiatives, often with the backing of the United States, which hoped to mitigate influences from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. However, Turkey’s financial crisis at the end of the decade weakened its ability to promote such transnational cultural projects. Today, support for panTurkism remains tepid as many Russian Turkics resent the Tatars’ dominant position in terms of both culture and language across the Russian Federation. Tatarstan’s failed effort to convert to the Latin alphabet was viewed as a linguistic manifestation of pan-Turkism, as it would have allowed greater communication with speakers of Turkish, Azeri, and Uzbek, who all now employ a similar script.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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