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Russian Duma Deputy Downplays Threat To Tatarstan's Sovereignty


Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Markov

Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Markov

KAZAN, Russia -- A senior Russian legislator from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party doubts that the Kremlin will eliminate the post of president of Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Sergei Markov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that while Moscow might seek to eliminate the presidential posts in other republics as a preliminary to circumscribing their sovereignty, an exception might be made for Tatarstan.

He named two reasons why Tatarstan could retain both the post of republican president and its sovereign status within the Russian Federation.

"The first reason is a special agreement between Moscow and Tatarstan authorities in the 1990s," Markov said. "Moscow promised to 'preserve' the status of the republic and the post of the president if [former Tatar President Mintimer] Shaimiyev did everything to prevent Tatarstan from going to war for its independence."

The second reason, according to Markov, is Tatarstan's and ethnic Tatars' economic and political power in Russia.

"Nobody wants to see the third-biggest ethnic group in Russia [after Russians and Ukrainians] unhappy and dissatisfied," he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that while he would prefer the ethnic republics to redesignate the post of president, there is no compulsion for them to do so.

Markov is a pro-Kremlin analyst who openly supported Moscow's backing of the opponents of the leaders of Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2005.

He is a director of Moscow's Institute for Political Research.
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