Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rinat Akhmetshin

Does anyone know the ethnicity of Rinat Akhmetshin, the shady former soviet intelligence agent who was mysteriously at that meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian attorney? News reports have referred to him as "Russian" but that's not an ethnic Russian name. His first name looks Turkic to me (I knew some Renats in Kazakhstan) and his last name is clearly Muslim-derived ("Akhmet" is how Ahmed gets transliterated into Russian, because Russian doesn't have an "h").

I'm not sure what the -shin suffix means, but it looks like a patronymic. In Kazakhstan, they used the Russian patronymic system. (So a male with a father named Akhmet would be Akhmetovich or maybe Akhmetov). But "-shin" is not a suffix I have seen before. Googling around, it looks like that might be used for some Tatar names (for example). So I wonder if he is Tatar.

ADDING: Just to be clear: I don't think Rinat Akhmetshin's ethnicity matters. I am just curious because of my interest in the peoples of the former soviet union in general. Whatever ethnicity he turns out to be, it won't tell us anything about his loyalties. Russia is much more multi-ethnic than most Americans appreciate. After growing up thinking of the entire USSR as "Russia" filled only with Russians, the ethnic diversity of the entire post-soviet space is one of my fascinations.