Shaymiyev, Mintimer Sharipovich

Shaymiyev, Mintimer Sharipovich
   /S¸äymiev, Mintimer S¸ärip Uli
(1937– )
   Politician. Mintimer Shaymiyev, an ethnic Tatar, was born in the village of Anyakovo, Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). Beginning his political career as manager of irrigation, he worked his way up the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before assuming leadership of the republic in 1990. During the last years of glasnost, Shaymiyev emerged as a powerful voice for pan-Tatar nationalism and regional autonomy.
   Once Tatarstan declared its sovereignty in 1990, he began to adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward both ethnic Russians and nationwide political parties. However, his decision not to ratify the 1992 Federation Treaty and to adopt his own constitution led to fears of a civil war between the republic and Russia. Unlike Chechnya’s leadership, Shaymiyev carefully avoided an embrace of independence in favor of asserting that Tatarstan was fully sovereign, albeit “associated with the Russian Federation.” In 1994, he assured Tatarstan’s special relationship with the central government through the signing of the first bilateral treaty between Moscow and one of its federal subjects.
   Given his role as the face of ethnic regionalism within the federation and a well-known actor on the international stage, particularly in the Muslim world, Shaymiyev has come to be considered to be one of the most important politicians in Russia. His policies have kept Tatarstan on an even economic keel and prevented the erosion of the social programs taken for granted during the Soviet era. His push for free markets and new housing has been especially popular among the people of Tatarstan, whose unofficial motto is “Buldirabiz!” (“We can!”) Shaymiyev was popularly elected in 1996 and 2001. Vladimir Putin reappointed Shaymiyev in 2005; at the time of his reappointment, Shaymiyev commanded 70 percent approval ratings. As the dominant political force in the republic for nearly two decades, Shaymiyev’s rule has been described as a post-Soviet form of “boss politics” based on clientelism.
   In 2008, Shaymiyev issued a stinging criticism of Putin’s vertical of power, and condemned “Great Russian chauvinism” as equally dangerous to the federation as any form of centripetal minority nationalism. He condemned the encroachment of Russian Orthodoxy into the region’s education system, as well as the proliferation of anti-immigrant groups in the capital and St. Petersburg. He also advocated for a return to the popular election of regional governors, a policy abolished after the Beslan attacks. Shaymiyev’s attack on Putin was the first major sign of the prime minister’s weakening popularity. Recognizing the need to maximize production of heavy oil in his republic, Shaymiyev has partnered with companies in Canada to apply innovative techniques for extraction.
   See also Separatism.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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