Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 200

The authorities in Chechnya, who assert that their republic is an independent state, have said all along that they will not permit their citizens to take Russian passports and have already printed their own identity documents. But the federal authorities in Moscow have been taken aback by the strength of popular feeling on the issue in the national republics and appear not to know how to respond to the outcry. Russia’s State Duma last week asked Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to review the decision to drop the entry for nationality from Russian passports. But three factions — Yabloko, "Russia is Our Home", and the Liberal Democrats — dissociated themselves from the move, saying that national identity is a subjective matter unsuitable for inclusion in a civil document issued by a state that regards all its citizens as equals. (RTR, October 26)

The presidents of Tatarstan and Ingushetia have blamed the federal government for the uproar because it changed the passport format without consulting regional leaders. President Yeltsin’s administration — which took the original decision along with the Interior Ministry — says the federal authorities acted within their rights and were under no obligation to consult with the regions. Clearly, however, Moscow is embarrassed by the strength of popular feelings. Nikolai Kapranov, deputy director of the domestic policy department in the presidential administration, told Kommersant-Daily that "We did not anticipate such a reaction [and] have not discussed what to do next." (Kommersant-daily, October 22)

Stroev Wins Landslide in Orel.