Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 31

Tatarstan’s parliament, the State Council, spent two days last week debating a controversial bill on Tatarstani citizenship, Monitor’s correspondent in the Volga region reports. The debate split the legislature into two opposing camps. One argued that the main thing was to adopt the bill it described as "a step toward the birth of statehood" that would end in Tatarstan’s secession from the Russian Federation. The other camp was chiefly concerned that the bill, in its present form, is riddled with inconsistencies, contradicts the constitutions of both Tatarstan and Russia, and would provoke tensions between Kazan and Moscow. These deputies warned, for example, that a criminal might try to evade prosecution by surrendering Russian citizenship for Tatarstani.

Following two days of heated debate, desire to maintain good relations with the Russian Federation won the upper hand. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev secured this outcome, saying said that Tatarstan does need a law on citizenship but that it must be a "civilized" one. As a result of his intervention, the State Council decided not to vote on the bill in its present form, but instead to set up a working group that will work out a new draft of the bill.

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