20 March 2002, Volume
MOSCOW REPORTEDLY DISPLEASED WITH TATAR, BASHKIR CONSTITUTIONS...
The Tatarstan-based newspaper "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 14 March that participants in a roundtable at Kazan University on the draft Tatar Constitution said that Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev has prepared a protest against the document, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The mention of the republic's power-sharing treaty in the new draft is reportedly the main cause of the prosecutor's opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 2002). The deadline for such treaties to be annulled has been fixed at 28 June, and thus, Tatarstan's Constitution would again contradict federal law. In addition, Professor Midkhat Farukshin, who chaired the roundtable, said Moscow is going to issue a public warning to Bashkortostan's parliament that it did not succeed in the harmonization of the Bashkir Constitution. Russian President Vladimir Putin could conceivably issue a similar warning to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov, Farukshin said. JAC
...AS SAKHA PRESIDENT FORMS CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION.
Meanwhile, in Sakha (Yakutia), President Vyacheslav Shtyrov issued a decree on creating a republican constitutional commission, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 15 March. Shtyrov will head the commission himself, while other members will be the republic's vice president, the speaker of the legislature, the chairmen of the republican Supreme and Constitutional Courts, and the republican prosecutor. Commission members will prepare changes and amendments to the republic's basic law primarily regarding the structure of the republic's parliament and organs of local self-rule. The amendments will be adopted during the parliament's summer session. Earlier, Shtyrov dismissed a suggestion by the republic's prosecutor that the local parliament be disbanded because it had not harmonized local laws with federal ones (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 15 March 2002). JAC
KREMLIN 'FIXER' VISITS KAZAN...
Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration, completed a one-day visit to Tatarstan on 14 March, strana.ru reported the next day. According to the website, Surkov met with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, with whom he reportedly discussed the functioning of the Unified Russia party. The bulk of Surkov's trip was reportedly devoted to the task of familiarizing himself with the process of building political parties, namely Unified Russia, in the republic. Surkov was accompanied by Unified Russia General Council Chairman Aleksandr Bespalov. Bespalov has been preoccupied of late with overseeing the process of merging local chapters of Unity and Fatherland (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 14 March 2002). JAC
...AS ANOTHER STRUGGLE OVER LEADERSHIP OF UNIFIED RUSSIA CHAPTER IS WAGED.
Meanwhile, in Kemerovo Oblast, the oblast administration issued a press release on 18 March announcing that the regional branch of the Unified Russia party is in danger of being dissolved, strana.ru reported. According to the website, the party's General Council suggested Yurii Zakharov, rector of Kemerovo State University, as head for the local party branch -- a candidate that Kemerovo Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev reportedly also supports. However, according to the website, Zakharov managed to attract only 89 votes from 218 delegates at a party gathering in the oblast on 16 March. A meeting on 1 March also resulted in insufficient votes cast in favor of Zakharov. According to strana.ru, delegates to the meeting said that Tuleev is trying to preserve his control over the new party by supporting Zakharov. JAC
SIBERIAN ENVOY PUBLICLY CLASHES WITH GREF...
The presidential envoy to the Siberian federal district, Leonid Drachevskii, has accused the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade of not having fulfilled an order by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to develop a strategy for the development of Siberia through 2020, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 March. Drachevskii's office and Siberian-based academics worked out the program at President Putin's request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March 2002). Drachevskii has sent a telegram of complaint to Kasyanov, according to the agency. Drachevskii added that he is hoping that the differences between the authors of the original strategy and the ministry can be worked out during a government session. JAC
...AS KIRIENKO PLAYED ROLE IN CENSUS CONTROVERSY.
A 15 March meeting at the Moscow-based Russian Ethnology and Anthropology Institute reportedly highlighted objections by the country's territorial entities regarding the nationalities list proposed by the institute for the upcoming national census, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 March. Ethnology Professor Damir Iskhakov told RFE/RL that the issue of "Baptized Tatars" and "Kryashens" was the most disputed item on an agenda that included issues regarding Tatarstan, Daghestan, and Komi republics. Iskhakov asserted that the institute's Valerii Tishkov agreed with Tatarstan's arguments over including such ethnic subgroups as Mishers, Tiptyers, and Siberian Tatars in the Tatar ethnic family -- thus responding to protests made by Tatar leaders across the Russian Federation. Radical Kryashen leaders who joined the meeting, supported by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, managed to include the nationality in the census questionnaires despite protests from the Tatar side. JAC
REGIONAL PARDONS COMMISSIONS NOT DOLING OUT MANY PARDONS.
Robert Tsivilev, the head of the presidential administration's department on questions of pardons, has said that the new pardons commissions in Russian regions are recommending the rejection of a majority of the appeals that they consider, strana.ru reported on 14 March. He said that in Tatarstan, the local pardons commission has approved only eight of 96 appeals, the commission in the Saratov Oblast two of 18, in Voronezh Oblast one of five, and in Murmansk Oblast one of two. Meanwhile, in the Nizhnii Novgorod and Ulyanovsk oblasts, commissions denied all of the two and three appeals they considered, respectively. In addition, the pardons commission recently established in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast rejected all three pardon applications at a recent session, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 March. JAC
SEVERAL REGIONAL AIRPORTS IN DANGER OF LOSING INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS.
Seven Russian airports are set to lose their international status over the course of the next few months, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko reported on 15 March, according to RIA-Novosti. The airports in danger of losing their status are located in Bryansk, Ivanovo, Kursk, Maikop, Nizhnekamsk, Cheboksary, and Raduzhny. According to Khristenko, only 16 of 70 Russian airports have the right to accept international flights. And in several regions, airports with such rights are located hundreds of kilometers apart. JAC
U.S. GROUP TO WORK ON COMBATING TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN FAR EAST, SIBERIA.
The U.S.-based NGO Winrock International has started a new project called "Preventing the Trade of Women in the Far East and Siberia," nns.ru reported on 13 March, citing the Khabarovsk-based "Tikhookeanskaya zvezda." According to the newspaper, the group has received a grant of $15,000 to study the problem. The publication noted that local "law enforcement agencies have [already] been studying the problem for some time;" however, "perhaps it is not bad that now the problem has interested the Americans." According to Winrock International's website, "the 2 and one-half year project will combine research, training, and volunteer technical assistance with a grant program for Russian NGOs." It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. JAC
IMAMS ASKED TO FILL IN FOR RAIKOM SECRETARIES.
In an interview with BashInform on 13 March, Imam Refis Mullagatdar, the Muslim religious leader of the Baltach Raion in Bashkortostan, said regional administrations should involve Muslim imams in "filling the niche formerly occupied by regional Communist Party Committee secretaries, who took on the moral education of rural residents," RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 March. Mullagatdar said such work is already being done in the Baltach Raion in Tatarstan. (Both Bashkortostan and neighboring Tatarstan have Baltach Raions.) JAC
RESIDENTS SAY NO TO NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.
Activists in Petrozavodsk have gathered 65,000 signatures for a petition against the construction of a new nuclear power plant, Interfax-Northwest reported on 16 March. Activists from different organizations, including from the Unified Russia party, worked together under the block called Accord in Karelia. On 14 March, Karelia's president, Sergei Katanandov, told republican legislators that he does not support construction of a nuclear power plant in the republic. A federal program adopted at the end of December 2001 called for the construction of such a plant by 2007, according to Interfax-Northwest. Katanandov added that if the construction plans are not called off, then he reserves the right to hold a referendum on the issue. JAC
OFFICIALS ROLL OUT THE UNWELCOME MAT FOR REFUGEES.
At a recent meeting on migration policy in Krasnodar Krai, more than 400 heads of cities and raions, law enforcement officials and migration service workers, including krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev, came up with a number of suggestions on how to reduce the number of migrants in the krai, "Izvestiya" reported on 19 March. Tkachev suggested that the fine for persons being caught without registration would be increased to 6,000 rubles ($192). "This is will encourage illegal migrants to leave the krai's territory," Tkachev explained. Other proposals included creating "filtration points" through the raion-level Interior Ministry departments which would deport migrants after three days, organizing monthly charter flights from Krasnodar to Tashkent to ship out Meskhetian Turks, and conduct negotiations with Armenian President Robert Kocharian on the subject of repatriating Armenians for "the preservation of friendly relations with the republics in the Caucasus." JAC
NORILSK RESIDENTS PREFER TO BREAK AWAY FROM KRASNOYARSK.
An opinion poll conducted of 106,000 residents in the city of Norilsk found that 99 percent favor the transfer of the town from the jurisdiction of Krasnoyarsk Krai to Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, Russian agencies reported on 14 March (see also "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 15 March 2002). According to Radio Rossii, the poll represented 89 percent of eligible voters. The next day, Krasnoyarsk Krai Governor Aleksandr Lebed charged that the poll's results essentially mean that the city wants to operate according to its own rules and laws; however, the city's legislation runs counter to both federal laws and the charter of Krasnoyarsk Krai, which includes the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, ITAR-TASS reported. Lebed added that the operation of legislation in a federation subject can be determined only at the federal rather than at the municipal or territorial level. Taimyr Autonomous Okrug is headed by former Norilsk Nickel head Aleksandr Khloponin. JAC
PUTIN SLAMS MAYOR'S EXPERIMENT.
During his visit to the office of "Izvestiya" on 13 March, President Putin criticized Nizhnii Novgorod's experimental program offering its young male citizens alternative military service (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 30 January 2002). "Take this experiment in Nizhnii Novgorod," Putin said, "What's happening? It is politicization...mayoral elections are coming up soon there, and the mayor's popularity rating is negligible. He has no chance of being elected. That's why he is making political capital of this. It is absolutely impermissible." Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Yurii Lebedev responded to Putin's comments by saying that he is ready to take personal responsibility for the city's "experiment." He said: "If today in the history of introducing alternative military service in Russia we need an extremist, then I am ready to be one. If only a federal law had been adopted [by now], then our children would have the opportunity to sign up for alternative military service," which is their right under the constitution. JAC
'SOMEONE' IS OPENING NGO LETTERS FROM ABROAD...
Following a number of instances in which letters received by NGOs in Perm Oblast from abroad had already been opened, activists for those groups have decided to launch a new initiative aimed at combating violations of citizens' rights to receive letters, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 16 March. Although the envelopes on such letters bear the mark "received in damaged condition," the activists believe that "someone" is paying a lot of attention to letters from foreign partners. JAC
...AS TAX OFFICIALS TAKE TODDLER TO TASK.
Parents of a one-year-old child in Perm Oblast received a summons in their child's name from the oblast's tax inspectorate, ntvru.com reported on 14 March, citing VolgaInform. The surprised parents were informed by local tax authorities that their child, identified by the news agency only as "Citizen K.," was not contacted by accident. Citizen K. needs to be assigned his individual taxpayer number because the law states that each person must have one -- regardless of age. JAC
GOVERNOR, ENVOY CONTINUE TO HAVE DIFFERENCES OF OPINION ABOUT ASSOCIATION.
At a press conference in Moscow on 14 March, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel said the Greater Urals interregional economic association still plays a necessary role. There are currently four regions from the Urals federal district and five from the Volga federal district in the association, according to Rossel, who said the federal districts were not carved up along economic lines. Earlier, when asked about the association's future, the presidential envoy to the Urals federal district, Petr Latyshev, said that it was created during a period when at the federation level there was little coordination among regions, even at the economic level, but that now the task of organizing the work of domestic economic policies has been given to the presidential envoys, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Latyshev continued that such associations are just voluntary structures, and their decisions are not obligatory and do not have the force of a government order. Last year, Rossel accused Latyshev of trying to break up the association (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 3 October 2001). JAC
TATAR GROUPS FEAR LOSS OF TATAR-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION...
The Chally branch of the moderate nationalist group Tatar Public Center (TPC) appealed to Russian Media Minister Mikhail Lesin on 13 March, asking him to cancel bidding for the 105.3 FM frequency in Chally that was formerly occupied by the Tatar-language Dulkin station, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The TPC warns that cutting off Dulkin's broadcasts will undermine Russian authority among the Tatar, Bashkir, Chavash, and Mari peoples. The TPC asserts that Dulkin presented all the necessary documents for resuming its broadcasting; however, the ministry decided to organize a tender for the station's broadcasting rights to be held on 27 March. Russian-language Radio Shanson and Radio Retro, along with Tatarstan's TAIF group, have applied to take over the frequency. Dulkin's general manager, Ravil Rustyamov, told Tatar-Inform that he is afraid that the other stations such as Radio Shanson and Retor have much more money and better political connections than Dulkin. He added that the station has received tens of thousands of letters from Tatars all over the world and also broadcasts in Tatar on the Internet 24 hours a day. JAC
...AS MORE PROTESTS OF CENSUS DIVISION VOICED.
The Tatar and Bashkir public movement Tugan Tel held a forum on 10 March in Ulyanovsk Oblast at which they condemned the federal center's ethnic policies, Tatar-Inform reported on 14 March. It adopted an appeal criticizing the Russian government's decision to divide the Tatar people into various categories, including Kryashens (or baptized Tatars), when the national census is conducted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 November and 14 December 2001). It said that if the same logic were applied to the Russian people then they should be divided into Old Believers, Molokans, Kulugurs, Kuban and Don Cossacks, etc. JAC
PRESIDENT GETS THIRD TERM.
Incumbent Tuva Republic President Sherig-ool Oorzhak was re-elected on 17 March, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to preliminary results the next day, Oorzhak has more than 53 percent of the vote -- more than 50 percent was required in order for him to win in just one round. Oorzhak's closest competitor was local legislative speaker Sholban Kara-ool, who had 24 percent of the vote. RFE/RL's Kyzyl correspondent reported that the election was one of the dirtiest and most scandal-ridden in the republic's history: one candidate, Vyacheslav Darzha, the head of the republican legal department (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 2002) survived an assassination attempt; and the incumbent Oorzhak was accused of using administrative resources in his campaign -- a charge which the republican Supreme Court examined the day before the election and dismissed. In addition, another candidate, Stanislav Pivovarov, said that his main goal in participating in the election was to raise the issue of launching a criminal investigation against Oorzhak. Darzha also said on local television that he possessed compromising materials about Oorzhak (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February 2002). JAC
RESIDENTS DON'T WANT HAPPY MEALS.
Protesters gathered in the center of Voronezh on 14 March to oppose the construction of the first McDonald's restaurant in their city, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. According to the daily, the majority of the protesters were pensioners and youths. Most of the former are members of the local Communist Party, while the young people are members of the "radical international movement" Ekozashchita, and the antiglobalist organization No to Corporations. The protesters called on the Voronezh mayor to conduct a referendum of residents of the raion where construction of the new restaurant is planned. They also presented a complaint to the presidential envoy to the Central federal district, Georgii Poltavchenko, who responded that construction of the restaurant will not violate the city's construction code. On 12 September 2001, McDonald's won the right to lease four plots of land, and pledged to invest $5 million in construction in the area and in the development of infrastructure. JAC
The State Control Committee of the Republic of Bashkortostan has transferred materials to the republic's prosecutor suggesting that 41 directors of government services are guilty of corruption, rosbalt.ru reported on 6 March. The most common violations were the use of state resources for personal purposes, illegal entrepreneurial activities, and acquiring stocks. ... NOVOSIBIRSK.
The oblast's prosecutor has launched a criminal case against two deputy directors of the Department for Natural Resources for the Siberian region, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 18 March. They are suspected of the illegal use of financial resources. ... PRIMORE.
The deputy head of the Frunze Raion Department of Interior Affairs in Vladivostok, Major Andrei Ostapov, has been arrested on suspicion of accepting a bribe, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 12 March. ... SAKHA.
Former republican Supreme Court judge Valerii Reshetnyak has been accused of premeditated murder in the shooting death of two young men in March 1999, regions.ru reported on 15 January. ... TATARSTAN.
A republican prosecutor demanded on 16 February that the court in Naberezhnye Chelny sentence former deputy head of the city administration Yevgenii Anikin to 8 years in prison for accepting bribes and swindling, Interfax-Eurasia reported. ... YAROSLAVL.
Police major Aleksandr Sharovatov was sentenced on 25 February to three years in prison for accepting a bribe, Interfax reported. Sharovatov had demanded a Zhuguli automobile from a local factory director or the equivalent sum to buy such a vehicle. JAC
Alisa Krauza, biology teacher at a private school in Samara Oblast:
"I would never work in a state school because there it is forbidden to do what is possible in a private school. There is no material base and there isn't any kind of relative freedom of activity. In general I am drawn to intellectual work and I would not want to work for any kind of meager wage. Any kind of work is honorable and should be well paid, but work with children should be held in even more esteem and should be even more well paid. It is, after all, difficult work." (From RFE/RL Russian Service's "Correspondents' Hour" broadcast on 10 March 2002.)