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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senators Reject Bill Giving Special Rights to Tatarstan

The Federation Council rejected a bill Wednesday on the separation of powers between the federal government and Tatarstan, which would have given the region special rights based on its high concentration of mostly Muslim Tatars.

The relevant committees in the upper house recommended voting against the bill because a number of its provisions "contradict or duplicate the Constitution," Interfax reported.

Senators voted 93-13 against the bill with 15 abstentions.

The bill, approved by the State Duma earlier this month, stipulates that the leader of Tatarstan must speak the Tatar language in addition to Russian and allows regional authorities to issue so-called internal passports with an insert in Tatar.

The agreement also states that the federal government and Tatarstan's Cabinet are to reach a deal that would give Tatarstan authorities a say in decisions on economic, environmental, cultural and other issues in the region.

Farid Mukhametshin, head of Tatarstan's State Council, told senators that the agreement did not violate the Constitution, Interfax reported.

"Our agreement was analyzed by the Constitutional Court, the Foreign Ministry and all of the ministries and agencies, and we have documents to show that it is in accordance with the Russian Constitution," he said.

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov told reporters that the lower house stood by its vote on the agreement.

"The agreement was signed by the president; we support the president; and we are not reversing our position," said Gryzlov, head of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

The bill now returns to the Duma. If deputies pass the bill a second time, it will be sent directly to President Vladimir Putin for final approval, bypassing the Federation Council, Yury Sharandin, head of the upper house's Constitutional Law Committee, told Interfax.