Sunday, February 12, 2023

New Title for Kadyrov Very Different Thing than New Title for Tatarstan Head, Makarkin Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 10 – Many are lumping together Moscow’s insistence that the head of Tatarstan not be called a president and Kazan’s decision to call the occupant of that position a “rais” instead with Ramzan Kadyrov’s inclusion in the Chechen republic’s constitution the idea that he is “the father of the country,” Aleksey Makarkin says.

            In fact, the Moscow commentator continues, these nomenclature changes are two very different things and will thus have very different consequences in their respective republics and even for the Russian Federation as a whole, with the former far less significant than the latter (

            The term “rais” does come from the Arabic-speaking world, but there is means simply the head or the leader and is used in many cases to designate whoever is the president or the highest state officials. The Tatars have drawn on this tradition to avoid having to accept what is for them the demeaning step of reducing their leader to a mere “head” as Moscow demands.

            But the situation with regard to Kadyrov’s promotion of himself as “the father of the people” is fundamentally different. “Mekhan da,” the Chechen for that term, is something foreign to the Chechen tradition and elevates Ramzan Kadyrov to a status very different within Chechnya and within the Russian Federation, very different from “head” or even “rais.”

            The title Kadyrov has insisted on is neither impersonal nor consistent with Chechen traditions or the Chechen language. (In Chechen, head is best translated as “kuygalbo.) As a result, what has happened in Chechnya sets the stage for a new conflict with Moscow while what has taken place in Tatarstan probably does not. 

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