Staunton, January 19 – Four days ago, the procuracy of the Republic of Tatarstan released an official letter stating that the head of the republic cannot be called a president. The only president in the Russian Federation is the president of the entire country, it recalled, an arrangement that was enshrined in law in 2016 (idelreal.org/a/31052291.html).
Tatarstan has resisted the change, appealing to the Russian Constitutional Court and securing the Kremlin’s approval for the current president of Tatarstan to call himself that until the end of his term. But when Rustam Minnikhanov was reelected last fall, he was reelected as president (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/12/tatarstan-digs-in-to-keep-position-of.html).
Neither the Tatarstan government nor the Tatar population supports this change, something they say reduces their status and even works against Moscow given the role that Kazan plays in international relations (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/06/tatarstans-special-status-in-russian.html).
Now, however, Moscow has apparently decided that the time has come to enforce its will and to use the courts to do so. That sets up a serious conflict between the Tatars and the Kremlin, one that will likely involved both impassioned dissents by leading Tatar intellectuals and politicians and even street protests by the population.
If the Kremlin decides to press the point now, one thing more is certain: it will likely face a very difficult time getting votes in support of United Russia in the republic either for the republic legislature or the Russian state Duma, a development that is likely to be echoed in other non-Russian republics as well.