Saturday, December 17, 2011

Putin's Russia - Lilia Shevtosova

Putin's Russia - Lilia Shevtosova

Each and every book we encounter relating to Russia and Russian History, we zoom to the index to hunt for content relating to Kazan, Tatars, Tatarstan, Turkic peoples of Central Asia, and other topics relating to Volga Tatars.

Often the result is terrible. Tatar: see Mongols
Tatars are not Mongols.

In this book there was content relating to (and critical of) Shamiev.

"The Kremlin, however did not want a total purge of the regions; it was prepared to continue the practice, instituted by Yeltsin, of making deals in them. According to Russian law, both the president and the regional governors were allowed only two terms. With Putin's approval and under pressure from the presidential staff, the Duma passed an amendment that gave 26 governors and republic presidents the right to a third term. The number included such regional heavyweights as Mintimer Shamiyev, the president of the republic of Tatarstan. Putin must have concluded that , having given the regional bosses a scare, he could control them. Running his (that is the Kremlin's ) candidate in a region meant getting into a fight in which the wrong people might win. And besides, fighting meant tension, which Putin did not like. Thus, for the sake of peace of mind, the Kremlin agreed to de facto limitless rule for regional family clans. Later, the Constitutional Court endorsed the ruling that gave regional bosses the right to be reelected for a third and even fourth time, which guaranteed the preservation of semifeudal regimes in Russian provinces.

Tatarstan is an outstanding example of how local regimes have ruled and how they cooperate with Moscow. During the 1990's, the experienced Soviet apparatchik Shamiyev managed to neutralize nationalist groups in Tatarstan, to become president there, and to establish relatively stable rule in the republic. His rule was based on the dictatorship of his family, which controlled the republic's basic resources - oil and gas, among others. Opposition was cruelly suppressed. Corruption and paternalism flourished. But Khan Shamiyev gave the center what it needed, primarily outward calm and support during elections.

At the beginning, Putin demanded that the regional feudal lords, especially Shamiyev and Murtaza Rakhimov (the president of another Russian republic, Bashkortostan, who had built the same type of rule as Shaimiyev), curtail their appetites and bring their constitutions into line with the federal one. The regional lords grumbled and resisted at first, and even directed gentle threats at the center, but in the end they caved in."

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