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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 12, 2005

12 September 2005
Tatarstan Insists On Compensation For Oil Quality Bank...
Tatarstan's presidential adviser on oil and gas affairs, Renat Muslimov, told "Kommersant" in an interview published on 9 September that the introduction of an oil quality bank was possible if combined with the differentiated rates of the mineral reserve tax.

Muslimov told the business daily that in his opinion Tatarstan is ready to accept the system of lower export revenues for its high-sulfur oil only in exchange for being compensation with mineral resources. According to Muslimov, the tax should be calculated by taking into account the oil's production costs and should be also lowered for those deposits which are close to being fully exhausted. Previously, the Russian press published a number of articles dedicated to discussions on ways to differentiate the oil export revenues among the different producers based on the quality of the product.

...Exits Great Volga...
Tatarstan's parliamentary speaker, Farid Mukhametshin, said on 9 September that after 14 years of membership in the Greater Volga regional association, Tatarstan has decided to leave it, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Mukhametshin explained the move by saying there is an unwillingness to duplicate the activities of the newly formed council of regional leaders of the Volga Federal District that was established by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, according to an unnamed official within Tatarstan's parliament, the Greater Volga group is likely to dissolve given that all of its current members will join the Moscow-run council.

...And Prepares To Endorse A New Treaty With Moscow
Also on 9 September, Mukhametshin admitted that the next plenary session of the republican parliament will discuss the power-sharing treaty between Tatarstan and the federal government, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

The bilateral group has been working on the draft document since October 2004 and the new draft reportedly abstains from financial issues -- with the exception of the mineral reserve tax -- and advocates the official status of the Tatar language. The new treaty is expected to be a substantial revision of the first Kazan-Moscow treaty signed in February 1994.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets Federal Officials
President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 8 September in Moscow with deputy Russian presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov and presidential aide Aleksandr Abramov to discuss Bashkortostan's socioeconomic development and the political situation in the republic, Bashinform reported on 9 September, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. During Rakhimov's meeting with Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, plans for the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Bashkortostan's joining of Russia were discussed. Gref agreed with Rakhimov when he insisted on the need for financial support from the federal government for the celebrations. Rakhimov also met with Federal Road Agency head Oleg Belozerov to discuss the agency's participation in the reconstruction of roads in Bashkortostan. According to the press service, all officials "expressed absolute understanding and support for the position of the Bashkir president."

Ufa Promotes New Power-Sharing Treaty
Bashkortostan's State Assembly on 9 September sent an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin calling for the renewal of treaty-based relations between Russia and Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported the same day.

In the document, the parliament noted that further improvement in treaty-based relations between Russia and its entities is an important strategic development for Russia as a federative state.

The deputies asked Putin to initiate a process of renewing the bilateral power-sharing treaty between the two sides and to set up a commission to develop a draft.

The first power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan signed in August 1994 fixed Bashkortostan's status as a state within Russia and proclaimed that land and natural resources are the "exclusive property of the multiethnic people" of Bashkortostan. The signing of new power-sharing treaties was halted after the reform on the strengthening of vertical power was launched by Putin after the Beslan hostage taking incident last year.

Parliament Speaker Reminds All That Republics Are States
Commenting on the Bashkir State Assembly's initiative, parliament speaker Konstantin Tolkachev referred to Article 11 of the Russian Constitution permitting the signing of power-sharing treaties between federal authorities and territorial entities, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 September.

Tolkachev said republics are states, adding that Russia isn't currently a true federation. "In terms of the distribution of powers, we lag behind classic federative states. The status of a federation subject isn't determined by the Russian Constitution," Tolkachev said. Tolkachev said he thinks it is necessary "to define the contemporary shape of optimum relations" between the federal authorities and Bashkortostan, and a new power-sharing treaty should play a decisive role in doing this. Tolkachev said unitary power is a dead end for the country. It is "republics that play a special consolidating role within the federation," the speaker said, adding that "the constitution of the Russian Federation defines republics as states.

Communists Removed From Parliamentary By-Elections
The leader of Bashkortostan's branch of the Communist Party (KPRF), Rinat Galiev, said the KPRF has been deprived of putting forth its candidates for by-elections to the Bashkir State Assembly slated for 30 October, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 10 September.

Galiev commented on the verdict of the Bashkir Supreme Court that ruled on 8 September on a ban by the Ufa Kirov Raion Court of a KPRF party conference in Bashkortostan. The deadline for presenting documents to district election commissions expired on 4 September. The Kirov Raion Court on 18 August agreed to an appeal by KPRF member Tatyana Sklyarova -- who claimed that she wasn't informed about the conference -- and prohibited the 20 August conference from being held. Galiev said that Sklyarova was defending the interests of Bashkir authorities who "try to prevent their major opponents from taking part in the elections." Russian Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin had commented on the ruling that banned the conference by saying that it is "harsh and illegal interference by the judicial authorities into the activities of political parties."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova