Bashkortostan, Republic of


Bashkortostan, Republic of
   An ethnic republic of the Russian Federation. Historically known as Bashkiriya, this ethnic republic was an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic during the Soviet era. In 1990, the ASSR’s Supreme Soviet declared the state sovereignty of the Bashkir Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR); however, unlike preexisting SSRs, Bashkiriya did not gain independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, though it did declare itself to be independent.
   In 1992, the delineation of authority and power was established between Bashkiriya and Moscow, creating the current Republic of Bashkortostan. It is part of the Volga Federal District and the Urals Economic Region. Along with Tuva, Tatarstan, Sakha, and Buryatiya, the republic declared in 1993 that its laws superseded those of the Russian Federation. It possessed the highest level of autonomy within Russia’s asymmetrical federal system. This relationship was formalized in 1994 with the signing of a power-sharing agreement between the government bodies of the Russian Federation and the republic. Bashkortostan maintains foreign trade relations with nearly 100 countries around the world; particularly strong are those with European countries and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The republic contains part of the south Ural Mountains and adjacent steppes, covering an area of more than 143,000 square kilometers, and contains a large number of rivers, which form part of European Russia’s transportation network. Bashkortostan’s economy is driven by its petroleum exports, and it is one of the richest territories of Russia in terms of mineral resources. The region possesses substantial industrial and scientific capacity, stemming from the World War II–era relocation of factories from European Russia.
   The titular minority, the Bashkirs, account for 30 percent of the total population of over 4 million; ethnic Russians are the largest group at 36 percent, while Tatars account for 24 percent of the population. In terms of language, Russian is spoken by the entire population, with Tatar (34 percent) and Bashkir (26 percent) ranking second and third. Historically, Bashkortostan has close ties with Tatarstan and is central to any future Volga-Ural state, the goal of Tatar nationalists and supporters of pan-Turkism. In recent polls, more than half the titular population supports independence from Russia. The republic’s administrative capital is Ufa, which has a population in excess of 1 million. The president, in office since 1993, is Murtaza Rakhimov. Rakhimov, whose third-term election victory was marred by rigged voting, came under intense pressure to step down in 2005 but weathered the crisis; he secured the Kremlin’s backing in 2006 for his fourth term, which, under the new electoral reforms, was a fait accompli. Under Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has sought to wrest away much of the republic’s authority and apply federal laws within Bashkortostan. Such actions have stirred discontent among the republic’s various ethnic organizations and political parties.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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