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 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.

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Constitutional status

Republics differ from other federal subjects in that they have the right to establish their own official language[1] and have their own constitution. Other federal subjects, such as krais (territories) and oblasts (provinces), do not have this right. The chief executives of many republics used to have the title of president, but in 2010 the amendment to the federal law has been adopted that reserves such title exclusively for the head of the Russian state. [2]

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 former President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin 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 strengthened the position of the republics' legislatures while weakening the executives power. The executive heads of republics are now appointed by the President of Russia himself. The President's nomination must be accepted by the republic's parliament.

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 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 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 of Tatarstan.

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".

Demographics

Republic Continent Titular Nationality1 Titular Nationality in Republic's Population (2002) Titular Nationality: Language Group Titular Nationality: Main Religion Ethnic Russians in Republic's Population (2002) Population (2002)4
Adygea (Адыгея, Адыгэ) Europe Adyghe 24.2% Caucasian Sunni Islam 64.5% 447,000
Altai (Алтай) Asia Altay 33.5% Turkic Burkhanism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism, Orthodox Christianity 57.4% 203,000
Bashkortostan (Башкортостан, Башҡортостан) Europe Bashkir 29.8% Turkic Sunni Islam 36.3% 4,104,000
Buryatia (Бурятия, Буряад) Asia Buryat 28.1% Mongolic Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism; tiny Russian Orthodox minority known as Onghols, often considered separate ethnic group 67.8% 981,000
Chechnya (Чеченская Республика, Нохчийчоь) Europe Chechen2 93.5% Caucasian Sunni Islam, Sufi Islam 3.7% 1,104,000
Chuvashia (Чувашская Республика, Чăваш Республики) Europe Chuvash 67.7% Turkic Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, shamanism 26.5% 1,314,000
Dagestan (Дагестан) Europe 10 indigenous nationalities3 86.6% Caucasian, Turkic5 Sunni Islam, Judaism (if Mountain Jews and Jewish Tats are considered) 4.7% 2,577,000
Ingushetia (Ингушетия, ГӀалгӀай Мохк) Europe Ingush2 77.3% Caucasian Sunni Islam, Sufi Islam 1.2% 467,000
Kabardino-Balkaria (Кабардино-Балкарская Республика, Къэбэрдей-Балъкъэр, Къабарты-Малкъар) Europe Kabard, Balkars 67% (Kabardin 55.3%, Balkars 11.6%) Caucasian, Turkic Sunni Islam, Russian Orthodoxy6 25.1% 901,000
Kalmykia (Калмыкия, Хальмг Таңһч) Europe Kalmyk 53.3% Mongolic Tibetan Buddhism 33.6% 292,000
Karachay-Cherkessia (Карачаево-Черкесская Республика) Europe Karachai, Cherkess 50% (Karachai 38.5%, Cherkess 11.3%) Turkic, Caucasian Sunni Islam 33.6% 439,000
Karelia (Карелия, Karjala) Europe Karelians 9.2% Finno-Ugric Russian Orthodoxy 76.6% 716,000
Khakassia (Хакасия) Asia Khakas 12.0% Turkic shamanism, Russian Orthodoxy 80.3% 546,000
Komi (Коми) Europe Komi people 25.2% Finno-Ugric Russian Orthodoxy, shamanism 59.6% 1,019,000
Mari El (Марий Эл) Europe Mari 42.9% Finno-Ugric Russian Orthodoxy, indigenous pagan faith, Marla faith 47.5% 728,000
Mordovia (Мордовия) Europe Mordvin 31.9% Finno-Ugric Russian Orthodoxy 60.8% 889,000
North Ossetia-Alania (Северная Осетия-Алания, Цӕгат Ирыстоны Аланийы) Europe Ossetian 62.7% Iranian Eastern Orthodoxy, Sunni minority 23.2% 710,000
Sakha (Yakutia) (Саха (Якутия)) Asia Yakut 45.5% Turkic Russian Orthodoxy, Shamanism 41.2% 949,000
Tatarstan (Татарстан, Tatar Cyrillic: Татарстан, Latin: Tatarstan) Europe Tatar 52.9% Turkic Sunni Islam 39.5% 3,779,000
Tuva (Тыва) Asia Tuvans 77.0% Turkic Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism, tiny Russian Orthodox minority 20.1% 306,000
Udmurtia (Удмуртская Республика, Удмурт Элькун) Europe Udmurts 29.3% Finno-Ugric Russian Orthodoxy 60.1% 1,570,000
Notes:
  1. Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Dagestan have more than one titular nationality.
  2. The former Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic had two titular nationalities until it was divided into the two Republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia in 1991.
  3. The ten indigenous nationalities of Dagestan are: Aguls, Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, Laks, Lezgins, Nogais, Rutuls, Tabasarans, and Tsakhurs.
  4. All population numbers in this table are to three significant figures.
  5. Balkars, Karachai, Kumyks and Nogais are Turkic peoples and Aguls, Avars, Cherkess, Dargins, Laks, Lezgins, Rutuls, Tabasarans, and Tsakhurs are Caucasian
  6. Kabardin and a majority of Balkars are Muslims, but some Balkars are Russian Orthodox

References