Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kazan Calls for New Treaties between Moscow and Federal Subjects

Paul Goble


            Staunton, March 1 – Shakir Yagudin, a member of Tatarstan’s State Council, says Moscow does not respect federalism, argues the center should adopt only framework legislation with the subjects adapting it to local conditions  and suggests there is a need for more treaties like the one Kazan has delimiting the responsibilities between Moscow and the federal subjects.


            Yagudin, who chairs the legal affairs committee of the republic’s highest legislative body, made those comments, a defense of federalism that recalls those of former Tatarstan President Mintimir Shaymiyev, to a meeting of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights in Kazan this past week (


            According to the Tatarstan deputy, far from everyone in Moscow understands or respects the values of federalism as set out in the Russian Constitution of 1993, including both an unspecified number of “federal bureaucrats” and politicians like Vladimir Zhirinovsky who has called for “liquidating” the non-Russian republics.


             To correct this situation, Yagudin called for the signing of more treaties between Moscow and the republics delimiting the powers of the two and urged that the Duma pass only “framework” legislation and then have each region and republic adapt it to local conditions rather than as now having central laws ignore and override local needs.


            And he sharply criticized the federal center for its nationality policy strategy document because as he pointed out, that document does not even make reference to the existence and importance of the non-Russian republics, which are after all responsible for the lives of many of the country’s non-Russians.


            Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights, agreed. “The problem of inter-ethnic concord is connected in the closest way with the theme of federalism,” he said, adding that “our federalism is far from completely being realized.”  And he noted that Shaymiyev played a key role in “’the salvation’” of federalism and of the country.


            Another member of the council, Vladimir Ryakhovsky called for respecting the choices of individuals and republics about religious and ethnic issues. Specifically, he said he did not support the Russian Supreme Court’s decision to ban the hijab in schools. Deciding to wear it or not is both a “religious” and a “national” issue and must be respected.


            Ryakhovsky also supported Tatarstan’s decision to offer only general courses on religion and ethics rather than courses on specific religions, despite Patriarch Kirill’s criticism of Kazan for that step.  “What does it mean to divide children” into difference classes for Orthodox and Jews?  “What will that lead to?”


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