Republics of Russia


Republics of Russia

The Russian Federation is divided into 83 federal subjects (constituent units), 21 of which are republics. The republics represent areas of non-Russian ethnicity. The indigenous ethnic group of the republic that gives the republic the name is known as the "titular nationality". Due to decades (in some cases centuries) of internal migration inside Russia, this nationality is not necessarily a majority of a republic's population.

Constitutional status

Republics differ from other federal subjects in that they have the right to establish their own official language (Article 68 of the Constitution of Russia) and have their own constitution. Other federal subjects, such as krais (territories) and oblasts (provinces), do not have this right. The chief executive of most republics has the title of president.

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 at odds with the federal constitution, and the republics' executives tend to be very powerful. However, this autonomy has been lessened considerably under Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, former President of the Russian Federation, who sought to impose the supremacy of the federal constitution.

The establishment of seven large "federal districts" above the regions and republics of Russia, with presidentially appointed governors overseeing the republics' activities, has strengthened the rule of law, and respect for the constitution, in the republics. In addition, Putin has strengthened the position of the republics' legislatures and weakened the executives. The executive heads of republics are now appointed by the President of Russia himself, but the President's nomination must be accepted by the republic's parliament.

There is some sort of secessionist movement in most republics, but these are generally not very strong. However, there was considerable support for secession among Tatars, Bashkirs, Yakuts, and Chechnya after the break-up of 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, Sakha). (As a result of the Chechen Wars, very few non-Chechens now reside in Chechnya). Also, the majority of Tatars, unlike other titular ethnic groups, reside outside of Tatarstan.

Former Autonomous Republics and Autonomous Oblasts

The Russian SFSR of the former Soviet Union included three types of ethnicconstituent 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 succeededby 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 indeed are autonomous and are 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".

List of republics of Russia


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