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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tatars Insist on Right to Deliver Mail

Itar-TassA postal worker processing mail in one of Russian Post's regional offices.
First, there was the fight over letters of the alphabet. Now, Tatarstan and Moscow are locking horns over letters of a different kind.

Russian Post on Tuesday stopped processing metered mail from Tatarstan Post, the only regional postal service outside the national network. Metered mail -- which uses a machine-made postmark -- is widely used by businesses.

Russian Post said that Tatarstan Post, which converted from being a state enterprise to an open joint-stock company in July 2005, had no federal license to perform postal services in its new form.

A spokeswoman for Russian Post called the situation with Tatarstan Post's license "debatable," adding that all organizations in the republic had received an offer to sign new contracts with Russian Post's new Tatarstan branch, which opened Oct. 25.

Tatarstan Post's web site says that it operates under a license that was issued by the Federal Communications Inspection Service while it was still a state enterprise. Tatyana Yankova, a Tatarstan Post spokeswoman, said the company is now a joint-stock company, although 100 percent of shares are still state-owned.

The Federal Communications Inspection Service was purposely dragging out the process of licensing Tatarstan's post, the republic's communications minister, Farit Fazylzyanov, said in comments quoted by Interfax.

Russian Post, which has operated since 2003 as a state enterprise, unified all regional postal services except Tatarstan's. Before that, regional services operated under rules decreed by Moscow but were managed locally.

Tatarstan, a mainly Muslim republic with substantial oil, agricultural and industrial resources, has maintained a great degree of autonomy under President Mintimer Shaimiyev.

Last year, however, the Constitutional Court ruled that Tatarstan could not switch the Tatar language's alphabet from Cyrillic letters to Latin ones, saying regional authorities had no jurisdiction over the alphabets of ethnic groups.