Republics of Russia
|Populations||206,195 (Altai Republic) – 4,072,102 (Bashkortostan)|
|Areas||3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi) (Ingushetia) – 3,287,590 km2 (1,269,350 sq mi) (Sakha Republic)|
|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|
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.
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 in 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. 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 the ASSRs 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 in 11 December 1994, beginning the First Chechen War. When the Tatar ASSR held a referendum on whether to declare independence in 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 agreements 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 Republic of Tatarstan demanded its own agreement to preserve its autonomy within the Russian Federation and on 12 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. Yeltsin lost the First Chechen War and he resigned on 31 December 1999. 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 what Freedom House called "tyrants" who ruled for personal benefit.
Vladimir Putin was declared interim president. Prior to his resignation, an invasion by jihadists into the Republic of Dagestan forced Yeltsin to declare war on Chechnya. Putin inherited the war and forced the separatists to surrender, reintegrating Chechnya in to the Russian Federation as the Chechen Republic. 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. 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 of Russia in that they have the right to establish their own official language and have their own constitution. Other federal subjects, such as krais (territories) and oblasts (provinces), are not explicitly given this right. The chief executives of many republics used to have the title of president, but in 2010 an amendment to the federal law was adopted that reserves such title exclusively for the head of the Russian state.
The level of actual autonomy granted to such political units varies but is generally quite extensive. The parliamentary assemblies of such republics have often enacted laws which are at odds with the federal constitution. The republics' executives tend to be very powerful. However, this autonomy was lessened considerably under Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sought to impose the supremacy of the federal constitution. Over the course of Putin's presidency, autonomy agreements signed between the federal government and republics after the collapse of the Soviet Union have all gradually expired. On July 24, 2017, Tatarstan became the last republic to lose its special status. The diminishing status of Russia's ethnic republics has been a cause of growing concern among its minorities in the country. In 2017, Vladimir Putin condemned mandatory lessons of minority languages in the republics and on 19 June 2018, the State Duma approved the first reading of a bill regarding the teaching of these languages, which instructed schools to reduce the instruction of minority languages to only two hours a week. Many republics subsequently dropped the teaching of minority languages to become optional.
The establishment of eight large "federal districts" above the regions and republics of Russia, with presidentially appointed governors overseeing the republics' activities, has strengthened federal control, and respect for federal supremacy in the republics. In addition, Putin strengthened the position of the republics' legislatures, while weakening their executives' power. In some republics the executive heads are elected by popular votes/for example Bashkortostan, Tatarstan etc./ while in some republics the executive heads of republics are now appointed by the President of Russia himself /for example Chechnya/. The President's nomination must be accepted by the republic's parliament. On May 30, 2014, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, accepted Khamitov's resignation so that he could participate in the regional elections; On September 14, 2014, most of the votes (82.17%) were given to the acting head of republic by the citizens of the Bashkortostan Republic; On September 25, 2015, the inauguration process took place in the State Council-Kurultay of the Bashkortostan Republic.
There are secessionist movements in most republics, but these are generally not very strong. However, there was considerable support for secession among Tatars, Bashkirs, Yakuts, and Chechens after the breakup of the Soviet Union, resulting in war in the case of Chechnya. The desire for secession in many republics is, however, greatly complicated by the extent to which other ethnic groups reside in their titular republics (Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Sakha; due to the First and Second Chechen Wars, very few non-Chechens now reside in Chechnya.) Also, the majority of Tatars, unlike other titular ethnic groups, reside outside Tatarstan.
Status of Crimea
On March 18, 2014, the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol after a contested referendum were annexed to the Russian Federation. Much of the international community and the Ukrainian government do not recognize Crimea's accession to Russia and consider Crimea an integral part of Ukraine.
Former Autonomous Republics and Autonomous Oblasts
The Russian SFSR of the former Soviet Union included three types of ethnic constituent units, viz., in the order of decreasing "autonomy" level: Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (or simply autonomous republics), autonomous oblasts, and autonomous okrugs.
After the dissolution of the USSR, each "autonomous republic" was succeeded by a republic with a similar name (or, in the case of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR, by two republics: Chechnya and Ingushetia). Several "autonomous oblasts" (Adygea, Altai, Karachay–Cherkessia, Khakassia) have become "republics" as well.
The expression "autonomous republic" is still sometimes used for the republics of Russia. Although they are autonomous and republics, the use of this term is not technically correct, since their official names, as per 1993 Russian Constitution and their own constitutions, are simply "republic", rather than "autonomous republic".
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|Flag||Republic||Continent||Capital||Titular nationality1||Titular nationality in Republic's population (2010)4||Titular nationality: Language group||Titular nationality: Main religion||Additional languages||Ethnic Russians in Republic's population (2010)4||Population (2010)|
|Adygea (Адыгея, Адыгэ)||Europe||Maykop||Adyghe||25.2%||Caucasian||Orthodox Christianity, Sunni Islam||Adyghe||63.6%||440,388|
|Altai (Алтай)||Asia||Gorno-Altaysk||Altai||34.5%||Turkic||Burkhanism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism, Orthodox Christianity||Altay||56.6%||206,195|
|Bashkortostan (Башкортостан, Башкирия, Башҡортостан)||Europe||Ufa||Bashkir||29.5%||Turkic||Sunni Islam||Bashkir||36.1%||4,072,102|
|Buryatia (Бурятия, Буряад)||Asia||Ulan-Ude||Buryat||30.0%||Mongolic||Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism; tiny Russian Orthodox minority known as Onghols, often considered separate ethnic group||Buryat||66.1%||972,658|
|Chechnya (Чеченская Республика, Нохчийчоь)||Europe||Grozny||Chechen2||95.3%||Caucasian||Sunni Islam, Sufi-oriented Sunni Islam||Chechen||1.9%||1,103,686|
|Chuvashia (Чувашская Республика, Чăваш Республики)||Europe||Cheboksary||Chuvash||67.7%||Turkic||Russian Orthodox, Islam, shamanism||Chuvash||26.9%||1,251,599|
|Crimea (Крым)||Europe||Simferopol||—7||—7||—7||—7||Ukranian, Crimean Tatar||67.9%||2,284,769|
|Dagestan (Дагестан)||Europe||Makhachkala||10 indigenous nationalities3||88.0%||Caucasian, Turkic5||Sunni Islam, Judaism (if Mountain Jews and Jewish Tats are considered)||Aghul, Avar, Azerbaijani, Chechen, Dargwa, Kumyk, Lezgian, Lak, Nogai, Rutul, Tabasaran, Tat, Tsakhur||3.6%||2,576,531|
|Ingushetia (Ингушетия, ГӀалгӀай Мохк)||Europe||Magas||Ingush2||94.1%||Caucasian||Sunni Islam, Sufi-oriented Sunni Islam||Ingush||0.8%||467,294|
|Kabardino-Balkaria (Кабардино-Балкарская Республика, Къэбэрдей-Балъкъэр, Къабарты-Малкъар)||Europe||Nalchik||Kabardin, Balkar||69.9% (Kabardin 57.2%, Balkar 12.7%)||Caucasian (Kabardin), Turkic (Balkar)||Sunni Islam, Russian Orthodox6||Kabardian, Karachay-Balkar||22.5%||859,802|
|Kalmykia (Калмыкия, Хальмг Таңһч)||Europe||Elista||Kalmyk||57.4%||Mongolic||Tibetan Buddhism||Kalmyk||30.2%||289,464|
|Karachay-Cherkessia (Карачаево-Черкесская Республика)||Europe||Cherkessk||Karachay, Cherkess||52.9% (Karachay 41.0%, Cherkess 11.9%)||Turkic (Karachay), Caucasian (Cherkess)||Sunni Islam||Abaza, Cherkess, Karachay, Nogai||31.6%||478,517|
|Karelia (Карелия, Karjala)||Europe||Petrozavodsk||Karelian||7.4%||Uralic||Russian Orthodox||none||82.2%||643,548|
|Khakassia (Хакасия)||Asia||Abakan||Khakas||12.1%||Turkic||Shamanism, Russian Orthodox||Khakas||81.7%||532,403|
|Komi (Коми)||Europe||Syktyvkar||Komi||23.7%||Uralic||Russian Orthodox, shamanism||Komi||65.1%||901,189|
|Mari El (Марий Эл)||Europe||Yoshkar-Ola||Mari||43.9%||Uralic||Russian Orthodox, indigenous pagan faith, Marla faith||Mari||47.4%||696,357|
|Mordovia (Мордовия)||Europe||Saransk||Mordvin||40.0%||Uralic||Russian Orthodox||Mordvin||53.4%||834,819|
|North Ossetia-Alania (Северная Осетия-Алания, Цӕгат Ирыстоны Аланийы)||Europe||Vladikavkaz||Ossetian||65.1%||Iranian||Eastern Orthodox, Sunni minority||Ossetian||20.8%||712,877|
|Sakha (Yakutia) (Саха (Якутия))||Asia||Yakutsk||Yakut||49.9%||Turkic||Russian Orthodox, Shamanism||Yakut||37.8%||958,291|
|Tatarstan (Татарстан, Tatar: Cyrillic Татарстан, Latin Tatarstan)||Europe||Kazan||Tatar||53.2%||Turkic||Sunni Islam, Russian Orthodox||Tatar||39.7%||3,786,358|
|Tuva (Тыва, Тува)||Asia||Kyzyl||Tuvan||82.0%||Turkic||Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism, tiny Russian Orthodox minority||Tuvan||16.3%||307,930|
|Udmurtia (Удмуртская Республика, Удмурт Элькун)||Europe||Izhevsk||Udmurt||28.0%||Uralic||Russian Orthodox||Udmurt||62.2%||1,522,761|
|Ethnic group||Titular (%)||Russians (%)||other (%)|
There were several attempts to establish republics within Russia since 1991:
- Ural republic
- Abazin Republic
- Volga German Republic
- Upper Kuban Kazak republic
- Karachai republic
- South Ural republic
- Siberian Republic
- Nenets Republic
- Republic of Primorie
Entities outside Russia
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