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Tatar Lawmakers Urge Renewal Of Kazan-Moscow Power-Sharing Agreement

Tatarstan's State Council in session (file photo)
Tatarstan's State Council in session (file photo)

KAZAN, Russia -- Lawmakers from the Russian Republic of Tatarstan have appealed to Moscow to extend a power-sharing treaty between the capital and the region that is set to expire later this month.

Members of Tatarstan's State Council adopted the text of a statement addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 11, urging him to prolong the agreement signed between one of Russia's most economically advanced regions and Moscow 10 years ago.

The statement also asks the Kremlin to allow the republic to continue designating its executive-branch head as "president." Under pressure from Moscow, all other republics in the Russian Federation have abandoned that title.

The power-sharing treaty signed on July 27, 2007, expires on July 24.

Tatar lawmaker Nikolai Rybushkin said at the parliamentary session that unless the agreement was prolonged it would be necessary to amend at least 14 articles of Tatarstan's constitution, as well as several federal-level laws.

He also said the people of Tatarstan were counting on the treaty's renewal.

Recent reports in the Moscow press indicate that the treaty most likely will not be prolonged.

The first power-sharing treaty between Tatarstan and Moscow was signed in 1994 by then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin of Russia and then-Tartarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev.

The treaty provided Tatarstan with broad autonomy, giving it rights to have its own laws, taxes, and even citizenship.

After Vladimir Putin took over in 2000, he began actively pursuing the creation of the so-called power vertical that many critics viewed as an attack on the principle of federalism itself.

All the laws in the subjects of the Russian Federation were brought into strict conformity with federal laws. By 2005 all previous agreements and treaties between subjects and Moscow were annulled, and it was announced that pacts would be negotiated in conformity with strict new federal laws.

Special status was given to only to two federal subjects: Tatarstan and Chechnya.

In 2007, the current treaty was agreed, according to which Tatarstan had the right to make decisions jointly with Moscow regarding Tatarstan's economic, ecological, cultural, and other policies.

Tatarstan was allowed to have special passports with attachments in the Tatar language. According to the treaty, candidates for Tatarstan's presidency must be fluent in both of the republic's state languages -- Tatar and Russian.

The issue of renewing the treaty is expected to be raised at the World Congress of Tatars, which will be held in Tatarstan's capital, Kazan, in August. Tatars from 40 countries are expected to attend the gathering.

Tatarstan is a mainly Muslim-populated region in central Russia with deep cultural and economic influence on the neighboring Russian republics of Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Mari El, Udmurtia, Mordovia, and other parts of Russia along the border with Kazakhstan.

Kazan, once the center of the Kazan Khanate, was conquered by Muscovite Tsar Ivan the Terrible in 1552.