When the All-Tatar People’s Congress (VTGC) asked the Verkhovna Rada to recognize Tatarstan’s independence, and when the international petition website Change.org published a petition to Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky to do the same, it evoked an unexpected reaction in Tatarstan itself. For example, Marat Galeyev, a deputy of the united Russia (no wonder!) in the State Council of Tatarstan, the republic’s oldest parliamentarian, said that Tatarstan had not declared its independence of the russian federation.
“We haven’t declared any independence. They can only recognize it if we declare it, and we didn’t declare it,” Haleiev said.
However, the situation is really quite curious from a legal point of view because Tatarstan has not declared itself to be a part of the russian federation.
The well-known Tatar political scientist Ruslan Aisin spoke about the legal grounds of the state sovereignty (independence) of Tatarstan:
1. The Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Tatar (note – no mention of “autonomous”) Soviet Socialist Republic. In essence, Tatarstan became a Union republic, but the Union stopped existing, and we had the perfect right to break up like the rest of them.
2. The Resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Tatar SSR “On the Act of State Independence of the Republic of Tatarstan” of October 24, 1991.
3. ” The Declaration on the Accession of the Republic of Tatarstan to the Commonwealth of the Independent States” (December 28, 1991).
“Based on the need to find a way out of the political and economic crisis caused by the collapse of the USSR: …. The Supreme Council of the Republic of Tatarstan declares the accession of the Republic of Tatarstan to the Commonwealth of Independent States as a founding member.
4. The referendum on the status of the Republic of Tatarstan of March 21, 1992 – more than 60% voted for “Tatarstan is a sovereign state, a subject of international law, which builds its relations with the Russian Federation and other republics, states on the basis of equal treaties”.
5. The Constitution of the Republic of Tatarstan ( the first edition) of November 06, 1992, where the status of the republic and the results of the referendum are enshrined.
6. Tatarstan did not participate in the first national presidential election in Russia in 1991, reasoning that it was a member of the Soviet Union at the time, but not of the russian federation. Tatarstan did not participate in the vote on the russian constitution in December 1993.
“All this history cannot be cancelled – especially taking into consideration the current degree of legitimacy of the parliaments, which we have not elected for a long time. Nor can it be undone by Farid Mukhametshin, who has been leading the Tatarstan Parliament for almost three decades, who took part in recognizing all these acts, and who now rejects even the idea of independence.
The February 1994 Treaty on the Delimitation of Powers and Responsibilities ” brought Tatarstan back into the legal framework of the russian federation, while preserving its state sovereignty. After two years of negotiations, moscow pushed through its own version of the treaty, having pulled its troops to the borders of the republic. The “Likhachev” position instead of the “Khakimov” one won.
Russia unilaterally denounced the treaty in 2004, and in 2007 the second treaty was adopted. In 2017, it expired, there was no need to prolong it or sign a new one. According to the Constitution of Tatarstan, we are united with the russian federation on the basis of a treaty on the division of powers, which does not exist! No treaty – no association,” says Aisin.