Tatarstan: Causing Yeltsin Grief
No Russian flags fly in the city of Kazan. Instead, the green, red, and white flag of Tatarstan flutters. Although it is surrounded by Russia on all sides, Tatarstan considers itself a sovereign republic.
It is a leader in the push for regional autonomy inside Russia. The republic of 3.6 million people refused to sign Russia's Federation Treaty. Tatarstan wants "associate" membership: It aims to hand authority for defense, transportation, oil, and gas pipelines to Moscow and make all other decisions itself.
Even without formal agreement, the region already has begun carving out economic independence. Tatarstan has approved its own constitution, which allows private land ownership. And it is moving more slowly than Russia on economic reform to keep living standards from plunging.