Staunton, July 15 – Farid Mukhametshin, speaker of the Tatarstan State Council, says there are no plans to amend the republic constitution and do away with the republic presidency. The Russian Duma had passed a law requiring republics to take that step, but Kremlin aides said Tatarstan would not be required to do so until 2020 when the current president’s term runs out.
By making this declaration, the speaker has set the stage for another confrontation between Moscow and Kazan early next year, a confrontation that Vladimir Putin undoubtedly hoped he could avoid but that now he will see as a test of strength he cannot lose given Kazan’s hard line (idelreal.org/a/30056142.html).
Meanwhile, in another indication that Tatarstan does not intend to simply follow Kremlin orders, a school director in Kazan has taken Tatarstan’s case to the European Court for Human Rights concerning Moscow’s decision to eliminate the requirement for studying the language of the titular nationality in that republic (idelreal.org/a/30056097.html).
The principal told the IdelReal portal that by taking the case to the European Court, he hoped to attract the attention of the international community and also lead other principals in the non-Russian republics to do the same in the hopes that some in Moscow may actually finally begin to pay attention to the views of others.
Given the contempt Moscow has shown for decisions of the court, that may be a forlorn hope. But the fact that a Tatar educator is moving in this direction highlights not only the importance Kazan places on getting such public support but also the importance Tatarstan has as a leader of all non-Russian republics, an importance that some had begun to doubt over the past year.
That is because the republic’s president did not take the hard line many expected. But Mukhametshin’s statement and the action of the Kazan principal show that there are still many among those in authority in Tatarstan who are prepared to take exactly such a line, a reminder to the Kremlin of dangers ahead if it presses too hard on either point.