Republics of Russia
According to the Constitution, the Russian Federation is divided into 85 federal subjects (constituent units), 22 of which are "republics". Most of the republics represent areas of non-Russian ethnicity, although there are several republics with Russian majority. The indigenous ethnic group of a republic that gives it its name is referred to as the "titular nationality". Due to decades (in some cases centuries) of internal migration inside Russia, each nationality is not necessarily a majority of a republic's population.
|Populations||206,195 (Altai) – 4,072,102 (Bashkortostan)|
|Areas||3,628 km2 (1,401 sq mi) (Ingushetia) – 3,083,523 km2 (1,190,555 sq mi) (Yakutia)|
|Subdivisions||administrative: districts, cities and towns of republic significance, towns of district significance, urban-type settlements of district significance, selsoviets; municipal: urban okrugs, municipal districts, urban settlements, rural settlements|
The republics were established in early Soviet Russia. On 15 November 1917, Vladimir Lenin issued the Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia, giving Russia's minorities the right to self-determination. However, most of these new states would be re-conquered by the Soviets during the Russian Civil War. When the Soviet Union was formally created on 30 December 1922, the minorities of the country were relegated to Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSR), which had less power than the Republics of the Soviet Union. The early Soviet authorities nevertheless encouraged minorities to join the governments of their republics to represent themselves and de-Russify the country in a period known as korenizatsiya. This policy also affected ethnic Russians and was particularly enforced in ASSRs where indigenous people were already a minority in their own homeland, like the Buryat ASSR.
By the 1930s, however, the mood shifted as the Soviet Union, now under Joseph Stalin, stopped enforcing korenizatsiya and began purging non-Russians from government and intelligentsia. Thus, a period of Russification set in. Russian became mandatory in all areas of non-Russian ethnicity and the Cyrillic script became compulsory for all languages of the Soviet Union. In theory, the ASSRs had power to enforce their own policies on language and culture, but by the time of the Great Purge, the ASSRs and their titular nationalities were some of the most effected by the purge and were in practice, strictly monitored by Moscow. From 1937, the "bourgeois nationalists" became the "enemy of the Russian people" and korenizatsiya was abolished. The autonomies of the ASSRs varied greatly throughout the history of the Soviet Union but Russification would nevertheless continue unabated and internal Russian migration to the ASSRs would result in various indigenous people becoming minorities in their own republics. At the same time, the number of ASSRs grew; the Karelian ASSR was formed on 6 July 1956 after briefly being a union republic from 1940 while the partially recognized state of Tannu Tuva was annexed by the Soviets on 11 October 1944 and became the Tuvan ASSR on 10 October 1961. By the 1980s General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's introduction of glasnost began a period of revitalization of minority culture in the ASSRs.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the position of the ASSRs became uncertain. By law, the ASSRs did not have the right to secede from the Soviet Union like the union republics did but the question of national sovereignty became a topic of discussion in some of the ASSRs. Prior to the Union's collapse, future Russian President Boris Yeltsin was an avid supporter of national sovereignty and granted the union republics independence in what was called a "parade of sovereignties". In regards to the ASSRs, however, Yeltsin did not support secession and tried to prevent them from declaring independence. The Checheno-Ingush ASSR, led by Dzhokhar Dudayev, unilaterally declared independence on 1 November 1991 and Yeltsin would attempt to retake it on 11 December 1994, beginning the First Chechen War. When the Tatar ASSR held a referendum on whether to declare independence on 21 March 1992, he had the ballot declared illegal by the Constitutional Court. Yeltsin nevertheless supported giving the republics autonomy, appealing for them to "take as much sovereignty as you can swallow".
On 31 March 1992, every subject of Russia except the Tatar ASSR and the de facto state of Chechnya signed the Treaty of Federation with the government of Russia, solidifying its federal structure and Boris Yeltsin became the country's first president. The ASSRs were dissolved and became the modern day republics. The number of republics increased dramatically as former autonomous oblasts were elevated to full republics, including Altai and Karachay-Cherkessia, while the Ingush portion of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR refused to be part of the breakaway state and rejoined Russia as the Republic of Ingushetia on 4 June 1992. The Republic of Tatarstan demanded its own agreement to preserve its autonomy within the Russian Federation and on 15 February 1994, Moscow and Kazan signed a power-sharing agreement, in which the latter was granted a high degree of autonomy. 45 other regions, including the other republics, would go on to sign autonomy agreements with the federal center. Toward the end of the 1990s, the overly complex structure of the various bilateral agreements between regional governments and Moscow sparked a call for reform. The constitution of Russia was the supreme law of the country, but in practice, the power-sharing agreements superseded it while the poor oversight of regional affairs left the republics to be governed by authoritarian leaders who ruled for personal benefit. Yeltsin lost the First Chechen War and he resigned on 31 December 1999.
Vladimir Putin was declared interim president. Prior to his resignation, an invasion by jihadists into the Republic of Dagestan resulted in Yeltsin sending troops into Chechnya again on 1 October 1999. Putin inherited the war and forced the separatists to surrender, reintegrating the territory in to the Russian Federation as the Chechen Republic after federal troops captured Grozny on 6 February 2000. He would participate in the 26 March 2000 election on the promise of completely restructuring the federal system and restoring the authority of the central government. The power-sharing agreements began to gradually expire or be voluntarily abolished and after 2003, only Tatarstan and Bashkortostan continued to negotiate on their treaties' extensions. Bashkortostan's power-sharing treaty expired on 7 July 2005, leaving Tatarstan as the sole republic to maintain its autonomy, which was renewed on 11 July 2007. After an attack by Chechen separatists at a school in Beslan, North Ossetia – Alania, Putin abolished direct elections for governors and assumed the power to personally appoint and dismiss them. Throughout the decade, influential regional leaders like Mintimer Shaimiev of Tatarstan and Murtaza Rakhimov of Bashkortostan, who were adamant on extending their bilateral agreements with Moscow, were dismissed, removing the last vestiges of regional autonomy from the 1990s. On 24 July 2017, Tatarstan's power-sharing agreement with Moscow expired, making it the last republic to lose its special status. After the agreement's termination, some commentators expressed the view that Russia ceased to be a federation.
Republics differ from other federal subjects in that they have the right to establish their own official language, have their own constitution, and have a national anthem. Other federal subjects, such as krais and oblasts, are not explicitly given this right. During Boris Yeltsin's presidency, the republics were the first subjects to be granted extensive power from the federal government, and were often given preferential treatment over other subjects, which has led to Russia being characterized as an "asymmetrical federation ". The Treat of Federation signed on 31 March 1992 stipulated that the republics were "sovereign states" that had expanded rights over natural resources, external trade, and internal budgets. The signing of bilateral treaties with the republics would grant them additional powers, however, the amount of autonomy given differed by republic and was mainly based on their economic wealth rather than ethnic composition. Yakutia, for example, was granted more control over its resources, being able to keep most of its revenue and sell and receive its profits for up to 20% independently due to its vast diamond deposits. Tatarstan and Bashkortostan had the authority to establish their own foreign relations and conduct agreements with foreign governments. This has led to criticism from oblasts and krais. After the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, the current constitution was adopted but the republics were no longer classified as "sovereign states" and declared all subjects of the federation as equal, though maintaining the validity of the bilateral agreements.
In theory, the constitution of Russia was the ultimate authority over the republics, but the power-sharing treaties held greater weight in practice. Republics often created their own laws which contradicted the constitution. Yeltsin, however, made little effort to rein in renegade laws, preferring to turn a blind eye to violations in exchange for political loyalty. Vladimir Putin's election on 26 March 2000 began a period of extensive reforms to centralize authority with the federal government and bring all laws in line with the constitution. His first act as president was the creation of federal districts on 18 May 2000, which were tasked with exerting federal control over the country's subjects. Putin later established the so-called "Kozak Commission" in June 2001 to examine the division of powers between the government and regions. The Commission's recommendations focus mainly on minimizing the bases of regional autonomy and transferring lucrative powers meant for the republics to the federal government. Centralization of power would continue as the republics gradually lost more and more autonomy to the federal government, leading the European Parliament to conclude that despite calling itself a federation, Russia functions as a unitary state. On 21 December 2010, the State Duma voted to overturn previous laws allowing the leaders of the republics to hold the title of President while a bill was passed on 19 June 2018 that elevated the status of the Russian language at the expense of other official languages in the republics. The bill authorized for the abolishment of mandatory minority language classes in schools and for voluntary teaching to be reduced to two hours a week.
There are secessionist movements in most republics, but these are generally not very strong. The constitution makes no mention on whether a republic can legally secede from the Russian Federation. However, the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled after the unilateral secession of Chechnya in 1991 that the republics do not have the right to secede and are inalienable parts of the country. Despite this, some republican constitutions in the 1990s had articles giving them the right to become independent. This included Tuva, whose constitution had an article explicitly giving it the right to secede. However, following Putin's centralization reforms in the early 2000s, these articles were subsequently dropped. The Kabardino-Balkar Republic, for example, adopted a new constitution in 2001 which prevents the republic from existing independently of the Russian Federation. After Russia's annexation of Crimea, the State Duma adopted a law to penalize people calling for the separation of any part of the country on 5 July 2014.
Status of Crimea
On 18 March 2014, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of Ukraine was annexed by Russia after a disputed referendum. The peninsula subsequently became the Republic of Crimea, the 22nd republic of Russia. However, Ukraine and most of the international community do not recognize Crimea's annexation and the United Nations General Assembly declared the vote to be illegitimate.
||Domestic common and formal names
Republic of Adygea
|Russian: Адыгея — Республика Адыгея (Adygeya — Respublika Adygeya)
Adyghe: Адыгэ — Адыгэ Республик (Adygæ — Adygæ Respublik)
Russian: Майкоп (Maykop)
Adyghe: Мыекъуапэ (Myjæqwapæ)
|Adyghe||439,996||7,792 km2 (3,009 sq mi)||1991-07-03|
|Russian: Алтай — Республика Алтай (Altay — Respublika Altay)
Altay: Алтай — Алтай Республика (Altay — Altay Respublika)
Russian: Горно-Алтайск (Gorno-Altaysk)
Altay: Туулу Алтай (Tuulu Altay)
|Altai||206,168||92,903 km2 (35,870 sq mi)||1991-07-03|
Republic of Bashkortostan
|Russian: Башкортостан — Республика Башкортостан (Bashkortostan — Respublika Bashkortostan)
Bashkir: Башҡортостан — Башҡортостан Республикаһы (Bašǩortostan — Bašǩortostan Respublikaḥy)
Russian: Уфа (Ufa)
Bashkir: Өфө (Öfö)
|Bashkirs||4,072,292||142,947 km2 (55,192 sq mi)||1919-03-23|
Republic of Buryatia
|Russian: Бурятия — Республика Бурятия (Buryatiya — Respublika Buryatiya)
Buryat: Буряадия — Буряад Улас (Buryaadiya — Buryaad Ulas)
Russian: Улан-Удэ (Ulan-Ude)
Buryat: Улаан Үдэ (Ulaan Üde)
|Buryats||972,021||351,334 km2 (135,651 sq mi)||1923-05-30|
|Russian: Чечня — Чеченская Республика (Chechnya — Chechenskaya Respublika)
Chechen: Нохчийчоь — Нохчийн Республика (Noxçiyçö — Noxçiyn Respublika)
Russian: Грозный (Grozny)
Chechen: Соьлжа-ГӀала (Sölƶa-Ġala)
|Chechens||1,268,989||16,165 km2 (6,241 sq mi)||1993-01-10|
|Russian: Чувашия — Чувашская Республика (Chuvashiya — Chuvashskaya Respublika)
Chuvash: Чӑваш Ен — Чӑваш Республики (Čăvaš Jen — Čăvaš Respubliki)
Russian: Чебоксары (Cheboksary)
Chuvash: Шупашкар (Šupaškar)
|Chuvash||1,251,619||18,343 km2 (7,082 sq mi)||1925-04-21|
Republic of Crimea
|Russian: Крым — Республика Крым (Krym — Respublika Krym)
Ukrainian: Крим — Республіка Крим (Krym — Respublika Krym)
Crimean Tatar: Къырым — Къырым Джумхуриети (Qırım — Qırım Cumhuriyeti)
Russian: Симферополь (Simferopol)
Ukrainian: Сiмферополь (Simferopol)
Crimean Tatar: Акъмесджит (Aqmescit)
|—||1,913,731||26,081 km2 (10,070 sq mi)||2014-03-18|
Republic of Dagestan
|Russian: Дагестан — Республика Дагестан (Dagestan — Respublika Dagestan)||Makhachkala
Russian: Махачкала (Makhachkala)
|Nine indigenous nationalities||2,910,249||50,270 km2 (19,409 sq mi)||1921-01-20|
Republic of Ingushetia
|Russian: Ингушетия — Республика Ингушетия (Ingushetiya — Respublika Ingushetiya)
Ingush: ГӀалгIайче — ГIалгIай Мохк (Ghalghajche — Ghalghaj Moxk)
Russian: Магас (Magas)
Ingush: Магас (Magas)
|Ingush||412,529||3,628 km2 (1,401 sq mi)||1992-06-04|
|Russian: Кабардино-Балкария — Кабардино-Балкарская Республика (Kabardino-Balkariya — Kabardino-Balkarskaya Respublika)
Kabardian: Къэбэрдей-Балъкъэрия — Къэбэрдей-Балъкъэр Республикэ (Ķêbêrdej-Baĺķêriya — Ķêbêrdej-Baĺķêr Respublikê)
Karachay-Balkar: Къабарты-Малкъария — Къабарты-Малкъар Республика (Qabarti-Malqariya — Qabartı-Malqar Respublika)
Russian: Нальчик (Nalchik)
Kabardian: Налщӏэч (Nalshchech)
Karachay-Balkar: Нальчик (Nalchik)
|Kabardians, Balkars||859,939||12,470 km2 (4,815 sq mi)||1936-12-05|
Republic of Kalmykia
|Russian: Калмыкия — Республика Калмыкия (Kalmykiya — Respublika Kalmykiya)
Kalmyk: Хальмг — Хальмг Таңһч (Haľmg — Haľmg Tañğç)
Russian: Элиста (Elista)
Kalmyk: Элст (Elst)
|Kalmyks||289,481||74,731 km2 (28,854 sq mi)||1935-10-22|
|Russian: Карачаево-Черкесия — Карачаево-Черкесская Республика (Karachayevo-Cherkesiya — Karachayevo-Cherkesskaya Respublika)
Karachay-Balkar: Къарачай-Черкесия — Къарачай-Черкес Республика (Qaraçay-Çerkesiya — Qaraçay-Çerkes Respublika)
Kabardian: Къэрэшей-Шэрджэсия — Къэрэшей-Шэрджэс Республикэ (Ķêrêšei-Šêrdžêsiya — Ķêrêšei-Šêrdžês Respublikê)
Russian: Черкесск (Čerkessk)
Karachay-Balkar: Черкесск (Çerkessk)
Kabardian: Шэрджэс къалэ (Şărdjăs qală)
|Karachays, Kabardians||477,859||14,277 km2 (5,512 sq mi)||1991-07-03|
Republic of Karelia
|Russian: Карелия — Республика Карелия (Kareliya — Respublika Kareliya)
Karelian: Karjala — Karjalan tazavaldu
Russian: Петрозаводск (Petrozavodsk)
|Karelians||643,548||180,520 km2 (69,699 sq mi)||1923-06-27|
Republic of Khakassia
|Russian: Хакасия — Республика Хакасия (Khakasiya — Respublika Khakasiya)
Khakas: Хакасия — Хакас Республиказы (Khakasiya — Khakas Respublikazy)
Russian: Абакан (Abakan)
Khakas: Абахан (Abakhan)
|Khakas||532,403||61,569 km2 (23,772 sq mi)||1991-07-03|
|Russian: Коми — Республика Коми (Komi — Respublika Komi)
Komi: Коми — Коми Республика (Komi — Komi Respublika)
Russian: Сыктывкар (Syktyvkar)
Komi: Сыктывкар (Syktyvkar)
|Komi||901,189||416,774 km2 (160,917 sq mi)||1936-12-05|
Mari El Republic
|Russian: Марий Эл — Республика Марий Эл (Mariy El — Respublika Mariy El)
Hill Mari: Мары Эл — Мары Эл Республик (Mary El — Mary El Republik)
Meadow Mari: Марий Эл — Марий Эл Республик (Mariy El — Mariy El Republik)
Russian: Йошкар-Ола (Yoshkar-Ola)
Hill Mari: Йошкар-Ола (Yoshkar-Ola)
Meadow Mari: Йошкар-Ола (Yoshkar-Ola)
|Mari||696,459||23,375 km2 (9,025 sq mi)||1936-12-05|
Republic of Mordovia
|Russian: Мордовия — Республика Мордовия (Mordoviya — Respublika Mordoviya)
Moksha: Мордовия — Мордовия Pеспубликсь (Mordovija — Mordovija Respublikas)
Erzya: Мордовия — Мордовия Республикась (Mordovija — Mordovija Respublikas)
Russian: Саранск (Saransk)
Moksha: Саранош (Saranosh)
Erzya: Саран ош (Saran osh)
|Mordvins||834,755||26,128 km2 (10,088 sq mi)||1934-12-20|
Republic of North Ossetia–Alania
|Russian: Северная Осетия–Алания — Республика Северная Осетия–Алания (Severnaya Osetiya–Alaniya — Respublika Severnaya Osetiya–Alaniya)
Ossetian: Цӕгат Ирыстон–Алани — Республикӕ Цӕгат Ирыстон–Алани (Cægat Iryston–Alani — Respublikæ Cægat Iryston–Alani)
Russian: Владикавказ (Vladikavkaz)
Ossetian: Дзæуджыхъæу (Dzæudžyqæu)
|Ossetians||712,980||7,987 km2 (3,084 sq mi)||1936-12-05|
|Russian: Якутия — Республика Саха (Yakutiya — Respublika Sakha)
Yakut: Caxa Сирэ — Саха Өрөспүүбүлүкэтэ (Sakha Sire — Sakha Öröspüübülükete)
Russian: Якутск (Yakutsk)
Yakut: Дьокуускай (Dokuuskay)
|Yakuts||958,528||3,083,523 km2 (1,190,555 sq mi)||1922-04-27|
Republic of Tatarstan
|Russian: Татарстан — Республика Татарстан (Tatarstan — Respublika Tatarstan)
Tatar: Татарстан — Татарстан Республикасы (Tatarstan — Tatarstan Respublikası)
Russian: Казань (Kazan)
Tatar: Казан (Kazan)
|Tatars||3,786,488||67,847 km2 (26,196 sq mi)||1920-06-25|
|Russian: Тува — Республика Тyва (Tuva — Respublika Tuva)
Tuvan: Тыва — Тыва Республика (Tyva — Tyva Respublika)
Russian: Кызыл (Kyzyl)
Tuvan: Кызыл (Kızıl)
|Tuvans||307,930||168,604 km2 (65,098 sq mi)||1961-10-10|
|Russian: Удмуртия — Удмурт Республика (Udmurtiya — Respublika Udmurt)
Udmurt: Удмуртия — Удмурт Элькун (Udmurtiya — Udmurt Elkun)
Russian: Ижевск (Izhevsk)
Udmurt: Ижкар (Ižkar)
|Udmurts||1,521,420||42,061 km2 (16,240 sq mi)||1934-12-28|
- De facto independent state from 1991 to 2000 but was still recognized as a Russian republic.
- Annexed by Russia in 2014; recognized as a part of Ukraine by most of the international community.
- The republic was not formed with a titular nationality in mind.
- Aghuls, Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, Laks, Lezgins, Rutuls, Tabasarans, Tsakhurs.
|Ethnic group||Titular (%)||Russians (%)||other (%)|
In response to the apparent federal inequality, in which the republics were given special privileges during the early years of Yeltsin's tenure at the expense of other subjects, Eduard Rossel, then governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast and advocate of equal rights for all subjects, attempted to transform his oblast into the Ural Republic on 1 July 1993 in order to receive the same benefits. Initially supportive, Yeltsin later dissolved the republic and fired Rossel on 9 November 1993. The only other attempt to formally create a republic occurred in Vologda Oblast when authorities declared their wish to create a "Vologda Republic" on 14 May 1993. This declaration, however, was ignored by Moscow and eventually faded from public consciousness. Other attempts to unilaterally create a republic never materialized. These included a "Pomor Republic" in Arkhangelsk Oblast, a "Southern Urals Republic" in Chelyabinsk Oblast, a "Chukotka Republic" in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, a "Yenisei Republic" in Irkutsk Oblast, a "Leningrad Republic" in Leningrad Oblast, a "Nenets Republic" in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, a "Siberian Republic" in Novosibirsk Oblast, a "Primorsky Republic" in Primorsky Krai, a "Neva Republic" in the city of Saint Petersburg, and a republic consisting of eleven regions in western Russia centered around Oryol Oblast.
Other attempts to create republics came in the form of splitting up already existing territories. After the Soviet Union's collapse, a proposal was put forth to split the Karachay-Cherkess Republic in to multiple smaller republics. The idea was rejected by referendum on 28 March 1992. A similar proposal occurred in the Republic of Mordovia to divide it in to separate Erzyan and Mokshan homelands. The proposal was rejected in 1995.
- Bashqawi, Adel (2017). Circassia: Born to Be Free. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1-5434-4765-1.
It also issued the Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia on 15 November 1917, in which the equality of all peoples was proclaimed, and in which the 'right of self-determination, even unto separation' was formally recognized.
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The cultural and linguistic factors and the isolation of minority communities from the rest of the population thus required additional surveillance of ethnic as well as religious groups by the secret service.
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- Shtepa, Vadim (April 4, 2017). "The Devolution of Russian Federalism". Jamestown. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
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- Российская Советская Федеративная Социалистическая Республика. Закон №1539-1 от 3 июля 1991 г. «О порядке преобразования Адыгейской, Горно-Алтайской, Карачаево-Черкесской и Хакасской автономных областей в Советские Социалистические Республики в составе РСФСР». (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Law #1535-1 of July 3, 1991 On the Procedures of the Transformation of Adyghe, Gorno-Altai, Karachay-Cherkess, and Khakass Autonomous Oblasts into the Soviet Socialist Republics of the RSFSR. ).
- Pakhomenko, Varvara (August 16, 2009). "Ingushetia Abandoned". Open Democracy. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
- "Russia revoking Tatarstan's autonomy". European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity. August 9, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
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- "Nations in Transit: Russia". Freedom House. 2005. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
The vast majority of governors were corrupt, ruling their regions as tyrants for their personal benefit and that of their closest allies.
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- Sakwa, Richard (2005). "Introduction: Why Chechnya?". In Richard Sakwa (ed.). Chechnya: From Past to Future (1st ed.). London: Anthem Press. pp. 1–42. ISBN 978-1-84331-164-5.
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