Khakasiya

   An ethnic republic of the Russian Federation. An area known for its archeological relics, the Khakas National Okrug was converted into an autonomous oblast with Krasnoyarsk in 1930. While never having been an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic during the Soviet era, Khakasiya nonetheless became a republic under the terms of the Federation Treaty in 1992.
   Khakasiya is part of the Siberian Federal District and the East Siberian Economic Region. It is bordered by Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Tuva, and the Altay Republic. Its geographic area is 61,900 square kilometers and it has a population of slightly less than 550,000. In terms of ethnic makeup, ethnic Russians form a majority of the population (80 percent); the titular minority, Khakas, make up 12 percent of the population, with ethnic Germans (1.7 percent) and Ukrainians (1.5 percent) also being represented. The regional capital is Abakan (pop. 165,000), a major industrial center situated near the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir. Processing natural resources (coal, iron ore, aluminum, etc.) and forestry are the major components of the local economy.
   Geographically, the region consists of black-earth (chernozem) steppe. Its eastern boundary is formed by the upper Yenisei River; in the west and south, it is hemmed in by the Kuznetsk Alatau and Sayan ranges. As a result of numerous fast-flowing rivers, the region has a surplus of hydroelectric power, much of which is generated at the 6.4-million-kilowatt Sayano-Shushensk hydroelectric power plant, the largest in Russia. Well connected to other regions, Khakasiya has one of the highest rail densities in Asiatic Russia. Aleksey Lebed, the younger brother of General Aleksandr Lebed, has ruled the republic since 1996. His policies were frequently coordinated with his brother, governor of neighboring Krasnoyarsk, from 1998 until his death in 2002 (the younger Lebed briefly ran to replace his brother, but dropped out before the poll). In the midst of the financial crisis of 1998, Aleksey Lebed declared he would no longer transfer funds to the federal budget, taking the opportunity to liken Boris Yeltsin to Adolf Hitler. The impasse, however, was quickly resolved when Moscow agreed to increase financial transfers to Khakasiya.
   Under Vladimir Putin’s tenure as president, Lebed joined the proKremlin United Russia party; however, he refused to openly seek Putin’s endorsement for reinstatement after the electoral reforms of 2004-2005, which impacted regional governors. Failure to do so was viewed as a catalyst for the opening of criminal proceedings against Lebed for “misappropriation of authority” in 2006. In the late 1990s, the region drew international attention when the Khakasiya Supreme Court ordered the closure of a Lutheran mission, a decision later overturned on appeal. Khakasiya has long been a refuge for marginal religious groups including Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptists, and Old Believers.
   See also Human rights.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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