Wednesday, March 18, 2020

While Approving Amendments, Tatarstan’s State Council Calls for Renewed Discussions with Moscow on Language Issue

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 12 – Tatarstan’s State Council was counted as one of the regional legislatures that voted in favor of the constitutional amendments Vladimir Putin seeks, but discussions in that body show that many leaders in that republic are not enthusiastic about many of them and want renewed attention to the sensitive issue of national languages.

            Khafiz Mirgalimov, head of the KPRF fraction in the State Council, said that “Putin today has the powers of a tsar, a general secretary and all the presidents of the world taken together. Is this not sufficient for him?” And he said that the basic law should ensure “the equality of all nations and nationalities on language issues” (

            Speaking in Tatar to make his point, artist Ramil Tukhvatullin said that “not one of the 22 national republics of Russia remains indifferent to the amendment about Russian as the language of the state-forming people. ‘It turns out that the Russian people has been put5 above the rest of the peoples of Russia.”

            There is no doubt of the importance of Russian, he continued, “but to give one people and language special political status in the Basic Law is unjust from any point of view. This is not only my view; it is the view of people in the national republics generally.” Other speakers objected to the inclusion of God in the Constitution.

            But the main address – 40 minutes long and running beyond the limits set in the debate – was delivered by former republic president Mintimir Shaymiyev. He said that while he favors supporting the amendments, “we must think how they will work better in taking into account the multi-national and poly-confessional nature of Russia.”

            Shaymiyev said he backed the idea of making an appeal to Putin concerning the preservation of native languages. “This question must be put at the top of the agenda,” he said.  Moscow isn’t funding non-Russian languages as it should, “and this is direct discrimination! Discrimination!”

            There needs to be a good meeting between representatives of Tatarstan and the Kremlin. “Tatarstan is prepared together with the president of the Russian Federation to consider in detail all the problems in this sphere.”  Then, Shaymiyev began to talk about the events of the revolutionary year of 1917, and the chairman cut him off.

            The State Council then adopted a 400-word appeal to Putin noting that while it supports the amendments, “at times we encounter insufficient legal development and support of direct constitutional guarantees,” especially in the language field and insists that this situation needs to change.

            Among the Council’s complaints: Moscow has made the study of two foreign languages obligatory but eliminated the requirement that people living in the republics study the language of the titular nationality. “This and a number of other problematic issues hasn’t been resolved for a lengthy period.”

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