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KAZAN, Tatarstan -- The far eastern Russian republic of Sakha (formerly Yakutia) has passed an amendment that removes the word "sovereignty" from its constitution, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Sakha President Vyacheslav Shtyrov and parliament speaker Vitaly Basygysov drafted the amendment, which says that "subjects of the Russian Federation are not eligible to have sovereignty, since the federation as a whole has it."

The Russian Constitutional Court issued an order on June 9 directing 11 of its "ethnic republics" to eliminate all references in their constitutions to "sovereignty."

The court published its decision in an attempt to urge 10 other entities of the Russian Federation -- including the republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Buryatia -- to also change their constitutions so that the word "sovereignty" is removed.

Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov said last week that the laws regarding Bashkortostan's sovereignty might be changed.

Officials in Tatarstan have yet to comment on the issue.

Tatar intellectuals and politicians say that the exclusion of sovereignty from the laws of Russia's ethnic republics would damage the language, culture, and ethnic identity of their titular populations.
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