The Federation of Russia is divided into 85 constituent units known as federal subjects. Of the 85 federal subjects, 22 are republics. The republics of Russia differ from other federal subjects in that they operate under their own constitution and have a right to establish own language. The republics are also granted extensive autonomy, though the level of the autonomy varies. Before 2010, the chief executives were being referred to as presidents. However, the federal laws were amended which reserved the title exclusively to the head of state. The republics also have their own assemblies that have often passed laws that are at odds with the federal laws.
The Republic of Bashkortostan is located between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. It is the most populous republic in Russia with a population of 4.1 million people. The majority of the population speaks Russian, Tatar, and Bashkir. Established in November 1917, Bashkortostan was the first republic to be established. It was transformed into Bashkir ASSR in 1919. According to the constitution of Russia, Bashkortostan is a state but has no sovereignty. The government of the Republic of Bashkortostan is headed by the Head (formerly known as the president) elected to a four-year term. Bashkortostan is one of the highly developed regions of Russia in terms of GDP, industrial output, and agricultural production.
The Republic of Tatarstan is situated in the Volga Federal District. It is bordered by the Republic of Bashkortostan with which it has strong ties. Tatarstan covers an area of 26,000 square miles and has a population of about 3.7 million people. The name “Tatarstan” is derived from the ethnic group Tatars while the suffix –stan is a Persian word meaning “Place” or “Country.” The Republic of Tatarstan is inhabited by about 2 million Tatars and about one million ethnic Russians. The Government of the Republic of Tatarstan is headed by the President (Head) who, according to the constitution of Tatarstan, can only be elected by the people of Tatarstan. Tatarstan is one of the most developed republics of Russia. It is highly industrialized and has a GDP of $44 billion.
The Republic of Dagestan is situated in the North Caucasus. It is an ethnically diverse and heterogeneous republic with a population of approximately 2.9 million people with none of the ethnic and sub-ethnic groups forming the majority. The largest ethnicities include Avar, Dargin, and Laks. The Republic of Dagestan has been characterized by having an Islamic insurgency and ethnic tension since the 1990s. The conflicts are as a result of the internal Islamic conflict between the Sufi and Salafist groups. The parliament of Dagestan known as the People’s Assembly is the supreme legislative and executive body of the Republic. Dagestan is relatively industrialized with industries such as oil, chemical, textile, and food processing dominating the region.
Status of the Republic of Crimea
The Republic of Crimea was annexed by Russia as one of its federal subjects in March 2014 following a takeover by the Russian Armed Forces. An unconstitutional referendum was conducted in 2014 with a large majority of Crimean expressing their desire to join with Russia. While Russia and some of the UN member countries recognize it as part of Russia, most of the international community and Ukraine do not recognize the accession and considers the Republic of Crimea as part of Ukraine. Some of the citizens of Crimea have also refused to get Russian citizenship with about 9,000 Crimean residents receiving Ukrainian passporst between March 2014 and October 2016.
The Republics of Russia