‘We’re many, and we’re for unity’: Tatarstan urges Putin to guarantee execution of Constitution
The Tatarstan State Council supported amendments to the Constitution and urged the Russian president to take the problem of conservation of mother tongues in regions with a different ethnic background under his personal control
Unlike their colleagues from other regions that unanimously and simultaneously adopted the offered amendments to the Constitution, Tatarstan parliamentarians tabled a series of issues in this respect on 12 March. During a vigorous political discussion, there were made sensational statements about the way Tatarstan covered to save and develop national languages in particular and rights that were different from “state-forming” peoples of Russia in general. “I usually sit and keep silent, but I haven’t managed to give a speech today,” State Adviser Mintimer Shaimiyev recognised and urged the establishment of Tatarstan to become a light beacon in developing education in national languages. Moreover, the republic that seems to be desperate because of looking for justice in the federal government, the republic decided to turn directly to Vladimir Putin with this issue.
Russia’s Constitution experiences the biggest reform
The introduction of amendments to the Constitution of Russia proposed by President Vladimir Putin became the key issue on the agenda of that meeting of the Tatarstan State Council. Chairman of the Tatarstan State Council in State Construction and Local Self-Government Albert Khabibullin became the initiator of the discussion of the law On Amendment to the Constitution On Improvement of Regulation of Separate Issues of Organisation of Public Power.
“The current constitutional reform has been the biggest since 1993. The amendments made are topical and timely. There was a wide public discussion, a debate in the Russian State Duma, and our unanimous support of offered changes would become a logical continuation. I am asking our colleagues to support the law on the amendments to the Constitution,” he addressed the audience and enumerated the changes that were offered to be introduced to the main law. He particularly mentioned the fixation of minimum wage not below the living wage, compulsory indexation of pension, declaration of children as the top priority of the country’s state policy as well as the priority of the Constitution over requirements of international agreements and decisions of international agencies.
“This document has a full right to live, and it can be easily brought up for all people’s voting,” the Tatarstan State Council’s speaker Farid Mukhametshin commented. “I think that Russian citizens also understand the responsible period and the president’s effort aimed at social issues and consolidation of statehood inside the country and the statehood itself. Also, there are external issues due to the uneasy situation, the foreign political situation. Of course, the amendments should be supported by the citizens themselves as well as deputies of the current parliament of our country.”
During the discussion, President of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov addressed the deputies too, he urged to “support the law on the amendments to the Constitution”. State Adviser of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev approved the changes to the main law too: “It is good that the much-needed amendments are made to the Constitution.”
“Introducing these proposals and amendments in general, we should think of how to make these amendments work better given the multi-ethnicity, multi-religiosity of the Russian Federation. As a result of the discussion, 78 out of 86 deputies voted in favour, one was against, seven abstained.”
“We are many, and we are for unity, for improving everyone’s life”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Tatarstan State Council in State Construction and Local Self-Government Albert Khabibullin tabled an address of Tatarstan deputies to Vladimir Putin in language policy.
“During the discussion of the key question [on the amendments to the Constitution], our committee’s deputies expressed concern about the linguistic situation. We know that the constitutional protection of conservation and development of mother tongues is strengthening, and in this respect, this should be taken into account,” he explained his proposal.
Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatarstan State Council’s speaker Farid Mukhametshin and State Adviser of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiyev supported the deputy’s initiative. The first president of the republic noted: “It is strange to ask any questions where and how state educational standards and education in mother tongues in general don’t work (while this is guaranteed constitutionally). Today we should support the proposal about the preparation of a good address precisely to the president as a guarantor of the Constitution. We should show the road like people who experience everything first-hand”.
Shaimiyev delivered a long report dedicated to the conservation and development of mother tongues and urged to work with federal authorities in this area:
“We are many, and we are for unity, for improving everyone’s life. We are ready to consider all accumulated problems with the conservation of mother tongues in republics with another ethnic background as well as what is underperformed at the top level. We have material, evidence and an understanding that this must be done for our country’s successful development,” Mintimer Shaimiyev claimed. “Also, there is a proposal — to create a constantly operating commission consisting of authoritative people in problems of education, conservation and learning mother tongue. We must be a light beacon in this case. And not to distinguish ourselves but to take advantage of our intellectual forces we have. Learn history better: that work and that role of the Tatars… In this case, I won’t be afraid to say because we did the biggest job to get rid of illiteracy. What things did happen after the revolution! <...> I want to finish with those feelings… There have been a lot of speeches, including about the amendments. But who else will talk about it if not you, if not we? <...> We know we are united people with many ethnic groups and religions,” the state adviser stressed.
The address to the head of the country itself was prepared simultaneously with the session of the State Council: Farid Mukhametshin asked several deputies to go to a separate room to draw up the document. After the job was done, the address was presented to Rustam Minnikhanov:
“I watched the address, it is worthy, everything is within the Constitution, within the federal law, and there aren’t any questions. The topic is crucial for the country. As Mr Shaimiyev said, there was a linguistic issue, and we should deal with it systematically ourselves, both with the federal centre and in the republic,” the Tatarstan president gave a speech. “I also fully support the idea of creating a group or committee [for mother tongues].”
Address to Putin
In the address that was prepared, the Tatarstan State Council deputies indicate the “insufficient legal elaboration and provision of direct constitutional guarantees” in such a sensitive sphere as language policy.
“New federal state educational standards that were announced haven’t been adopted yet. The existing projects of indicated standards of the situation with mother tongues remain quite unclear. Requirements for detailed results were created for all subjects except for mother tongues and literature as well as official languages of the republic. Moreover, official languages in educational standards turn out below foreign languages because two foreign languages are compulsory for learning, while official languages of republics aren’t. These and some other problematic issues haven’t been resolved for long,” the deputies are addressing the president of Russia.
In this respect, the deputies offered to tighten the responsibility of federal state agencies for proper execution of provisions of the Constitution. The authors of the documents also paid attention to the fact that according to the amendments the state assumes “additional obligations to protect the cultural identity of all ethnic groups and ethnic communities by guaranteeing the preservation of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity”.
“We assume that the constitutional amendments considered together with experts and the public will require systemic legislative regulation and by-laws both at federal and regional level. We are turning to you as a guarantor of the Constitution of the Russian Federation asking to take this job under special control,” the document reads.