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The official title of the heir apparent was Tsarevich (Czarevich for others) so clearly the title Tsar (Czar) had a legal status. The Russian Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias wa salso Tsar of many other sovereignties united unde rhis rule.
You cannot blame Ferdinand of Bulgaria - the title of Tsar was used in Bulgaria in the ancient pre-Ottoman occupation monarchy, but was not thought to be the equivalent of the Greek word, Basileus or Latin, Imperator. The Bulgarians used another word for King, Krol, which was used to refer to Western European monarchs. The adoption of the title of Emperor by the Russian Tsar was part of the process of Westernisation of the Russian monarchy and was deliberately designed to make it absolutely clear that the Emperor was heir to Byzantium (hence the Byzantine Eagles and Crown) and the equal of the Holy Roman Emperor.
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