Staunton, December 28 – Since 1991, Tatarstan has had a president; and it has insisted on that even though since 2010, Moscow has called for the elimination of that title for heads of federal subjects and its replacement with the term “head,” Moscow agreed the current Tatarstan president could retain the title until the end of his term (bbc.com/russian/features-40904692).
Now, the State Council of Tatarstan is engaged in rewriting the republic constitution in order to bring it into line with the amended Russian Federation one. But the council’s speaker, Farid Mukhametshin, says the right of a federal subject to call its senior official president was not done away with by the changes (kommersant.ru/doc/4636481).
Because there was no discussion about this title during the federal amendment discussions, he continues, there is no reason for Kazan to make any change “We will not initiate this process ourselves,” an indication that if Moscow really wants to force matters, it will have to deploy significant political pressure in the coming days.
He adds that Tatarstan plans to continue to call its legislature the State Council. The body with that name in Russia is “constitutional and not an organ of state power. We will thus not change the name of our Government Council in connection with this similarly named constitutional organ.”
All other republics which had presidents as recently as 2010 have dropped that title and now refer to them as heads. But saving the term has become a point of pride and even honor for Tatars who view it as a symbol of their special role in the federal system (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/07/tatarstan-state-council-wont-do-away.html).
Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, says that Kazan’s success in resisting Moscow’s demands reflects lobbying by the republic head Rustam Minnikhanov with Vladimir Putin personally and that as a result, Moscow is unlikely to challenge Kazan on this point as long as Minnikhanov is around.
In the course of defending the title of president and the State Council name, Mukhametshin said that Tatarstan will go along with liquidating its constitutional court but that it will take steps to replace it by forming a constitutional council within the parliament,” thus obeying the letter but not the spirit of Russian law.