President Boris Yeltsin plans to create, as part of the presidential administration’s legal department, an office to vet laws passed by the federation’s constituent republics and determine whether those laws are compatible with the federal constitution and federal laws. Presidential administration head Sergei Filatov informed a gathering of heads of republican and regional legislatures about the plan. One reason for Yeltsin’s measure is that some of the republics’ constitutions "run counter to federal law, for example in interpreting the notion of sovereignty," Filatov said. Addressing the same meeting, Federation Council chairman Vladimir Shumeiko singled out the legislations of Tatarstan, Yakutia, and Tuva as "considerably deviating from the Russian constitution." Shumeiko said that "all constitutions and charters" of the republics and regions "must be brought into line with federal legislation." (7)
The comments suggest an intention to set up in effect a constitutional oversight body under the president’s direct authority, merging executive and legislative power. A body of this type is not provided for in either the constitution or the treaties on the delimitation of powers between the federation and constituent republics, including those targeted by Shumeiko. The comments of both officials clearly suggest that the proposed body is intended to curtail the republics’ legal rights under existing arrangements.
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