The article explores the development of ethnic identity among the Tatar intelligentsia of the city of Saratov (outside of the titular Tatar republic) in the context of post-Soviet political, economic and psychological crisis. The research is based on a deep interview survey. The author conceptualizes the spurt of ethnic Tatar identity in the 1990s as a response to the loss of the soviet identity, social instability of post-Soviet life, and the looming prospect of decline of the Tatar language and ethnic identity among the Tatar people. The interview survey reveals that the Tatar identity of the Saratov intelligentsia centers on language, national traditions, and religion (Islam). Ethnic origin and the titular Tatar republic (Tatarstan) are less central for the identity of Saratov Tatars. Acknowledging the fact of differences among the Tatars, living in different parts of the post-Soviet states, Saratov respondents viewed all the Tatars and sometimes other Turkic people as part of the same nation. The author maintains that the Saratov Tatars supplement their ethnic identity with the political identity of citizens of the Russian Federation. They appear to be divided over the question of the necessity of a national state for the Tatars. Though some viewed Tatarstan as an obstacle on the way of the all-Tatar ethnic identity, some of the respondents viewed the existence of the titular Tatar republic as a condition for survival of the Tatar culture and language. The author concludes that the ethnic identity of the Tatars outside of Tatarstan is bound to culture (historical memory, language, religion, traditions) and much less to factors of ethnopolitics, such as national state and policy of the federal center in regard to nationalities.