Staunton, December 11 – Even as the government of the Republic of Tatarstan is seeking to ensure that it will be able to retain the post of president after January 1, Farid Mukhametshin, the head of the republic’s State Council has issued a stinging rebuke to the federal legislation for adopting laws that do not correspond to the Russian Federation constitution.
At a meeting of the presidium of the Council of Legislators and in the presence of Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin, Mukhametshin said that at his request, Kazan State University researchers had analyzed recent federal legislation and identified 22 laws that do not correspond to the Constitution (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=566A8D06E636A and rg.ru/2015/12/11/narishkin.html).
The Tatarstan State Council chairman said he had sent the offending laws to the Constitutional Court and asked that federal legislators be more careful in the future with the legislation they propose and pass.
Later at the same meeting, Shaikir Yagudin, head of the State Council’s committee on legislation and the legal order, expressed the hope that Moscow would take measures to ensure than Tatarstan could continue to refer to its head as a president. At the present time, it is the only republic to do so (kommersant.ru/doc/2873877 and nazaccent.ru/content/18707-v-tatarstane-zhdut-ot-federalnogo-centra.html).
“This is a status category,” Yagudin said. “In the Russian Constitution, there is nothing said about the naming of the highest position in a republic, and in the constitution of our subject it is specifically designated that the head of the state is a president. These questions are resolved at the constitutional level.”
Any change in this, he suggested, would require the renegotiation of the treaty between Moscow and Kazan on the delimitation of their respective functions.
Kazan’s hard line on this point is a reflection of two things. On the one hand, Vladimir Putin has on at least one occasion said that it is up to the republic what it wants to call its senior official. And on the other, Tatarstan officials have frequently taken a harder line on issues than other republics by using the law and the constitution rather than force majeure.
But a lot is riding on both Kazan’s criticism of the federal legislature and its demand for the retention of the post of president. If Tatarstan succeeds, other republics within the Russian Federation are likely to try the same strategy. If it doesn’t, Moscow will have to face the anger of the Volga Tatars, the second largest nation inside the borders of the Russian Federation.