The legal department of the upper house of the Russian parliament–the Federation Council–has told the Republic of Tatarstan that it must bring its bill on republic citizenship into line with federal legislation. Tatarstan’s State Council adopted a bill on citizenship in the first reading in April. This raised hackles in Moscow, where it was seen as an attempt to trespass on the legislative prerogatives of the federal authorities. Even in Kazan, it was acknowledged that the bill contained many rough edges and contradictory passages. The text was accordingly sent for appraisal to the Federation Council and the Council of Europe.
Now, the Monitor’s correspondent in the Volga region reports, the Federation Council’s legal experts have delivered their verdict. They find numerous points on which Tatarstan’s legislation contradicts federal law. One major sticking point is the fact that Tatarstan’s proposed legislation would make it possible, at least in theory, for an individual to hold Tatarstani citizenship without necessarily being a citizen of Russia. The Federation Council lawyers say this would create no end of confusion over issues such as voting, military service, foreign travel and employment in the civil service. In any case, they argue, Tatarstan has no right to legislate on this issue. Under federal law, questions relating to citizenship fall within the purview of the federal authorities. The republics do not have the right to make their own decisions. This does not mean that republic citizenship is ruled out. On the contrary, dual citizenship is specifically sanctioned by Russia’s citizenship law. What the law does mean is that the republics do not have the right to decide who should have citizenship or on what conditions. This will infuriate the Tatars. Moderate leaders, headed by President Mintimer Shaimiev, have warned all along that attempts to decouple Tatarstani citizenship from Russian citizenship were a nonstarter. Even the moderates, however, will be unwilling to give ground on the central issue. Tatarstan sees the establishment of its own citizenship as the cornerstone of its campaign to restore the statehood that the Tatars lost when their territory was annexed by Ivan the Terrible in 1552.
TATARSTAN DEMANDS BILINGUAL LABELING ON IMPORTED CONSUMER PRODUCTS.