Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 230

The Republic of Bashkortostan is set for its first open clash with the federal authorities since it signed a power-sharing agreement with the Russian Federation in August of 1994, the Monitor’s correspondent in the Volga region reports. At the end of last month, the republic legislature, the State Assembly, adopted two resolutions on the "national question." Both are highly critical of the federal center and apparently mark the beginning of an open conflict between Moscow and Ufa. The documents are addressed to the Russian Constitutional Court. The first rebuffs a complaint by Russia’s State Duma that Bashkortostan’s law, requiring presidential candidates to speak Bashkir, violates the Russian constitution. Our correspondent says that, while Bashkortostan’s parliament declares that it will not back down on this issue, it is on weak ground since Bashkortostan’s laws proclaim the equality of the Russian and Bashkir languages and Bashkir does not have the status of a state language. The issue is particularly contentious because ethnic Bashkirs make up only one-third of the population of the republic, being outnumbered by both ethnic Russians and Tatars.

The second resolution concerns Russia’s controversial new passports and accuses the federal authorities of trampling on the rights and sensitivities of the national republics. Bashkortostan has, like neighboring Tatarstan, suspended the issue of the new documents on the territory of the republic because the new documents do not contain an entry for nationality and are written in Russian only. (See Monitor, October 27, 29, November 5) Here, Ufa is on stronger ground since several of Russia’s other national republics object just as strongly to the new documents.

Maskhadov Promises Government Re-Shuffle.