Russia's State Duma adopts a law prohibiting the heads of the regions to be called presidents

Tatarstan is one step closer to losing the “president”

The State Duma of the eighth convocation at the meeting on 9 October in the first reading adopted a draft law on regional authorities, which provides for a ban on the heads of constituent entities of the Russian Federation being called presidents. To date, there is only one Russian region that uses this word to refer to the top official — Tatarstan.

The draft bill was supported by 317 out of 450 deputies of the State Duma. Sixty-six parliamentarians opposed it. Twelve preferred to abstain.

In addition to this provision, the document provides that the head of the Russian region is directly elected by citizens or deputies of the regional legislative assembly for five years. Currently, the term of office is determined by the subject of the Russian Federation, but cannot exceed five years.

Together with this bill, adopted by the State Duma, the ban is lifted for the highest official of the region to fill this position for more than two consecutive terms, as provided for by current legislation.

As announced by the co-author of the document, сhairman of the State Duma Committee on State Construction and Legislation, Pavel Krasheninnikov, the bill is planned to be adopted in December. It will be effective from June 1, 2022. Earlier, he also stated that the bill would not be amended due to the critical position of Tatarstan. Out of more than 80 conclusions submitted to the State Duma on the document, the only one negative feedback was received from Tatarstan.

At the same time, the Kremlin, commenting on that the deputies of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan did not support the initiative of the feds regarding the designation of the highest official in the regions exclusively as “the head of the subject of the Russian Federation”, said that this opinion would be taken into account when considering the draft bill. The press secretary of the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, drew attention to that the position of the Tatarstan parliament is only one of many.

Tatarstan deputies — for two presidents in Russia

Recall that Tatarstan is the only region in Russia where the highest official is called the president. The deputies of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan do not approve of the idea of the feds. They would like to preserve the provision that assigns the title “president” to the highest official of the Republic of Tatarstan. In this regard, at the meeting they unanimously did not support the federal draft and sent a resolution of the State Council on this issue to the lower house of the Russian parliament. The position of Tatarstan was defended by deputies representing the republic in the State Duma.

The Speaker of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, Farid Mukhametshin, hoped that the wariness of the Tatarstan parliament and the lack of support from its deputies would help to make significant changes to the draft law submitted to the State Duma.

For example, State Duma deputy from Tatarstan Ildar Gilmutdinov presented the position of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan at the end of October. He pointed out that the bill allegedly intrudes into the powers of the regions and “details, does not leave any opportunities for the subject to independently build its executive structure and legislative work”.

However, Krasheninnikov in response to this stated that the word “president” cannot be used to refer to a head of the Russian region. “I came to the region, they say: we have everything, there will be no governor, there will be a head. Quite possibly. If it is written in the charter [of the region], please leave it, except for one story with the word 'president'," he said.

According to the expert opinion of Yevgeny Sultanov, the head of the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law of the Department of Law of the Kazan Federal University, if the law “On general principles of organisation of public power in the subjects of Russia” comes into force, Tatarstan will not be able to retain the post of president of the republic, despite the negative response of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan to the bill.

Tatyana Demina