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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 9, 2004

9 February 2004
Presidential Adviser Says Moscow Cannot Reverse Tatarstan's Declaration Of Sovereignty
Rafael Khekimov, a political adviser to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, told Intertat on 7 February that while federal authorities are stating serious objections regarding the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Kazan and Moscow, there are some principal provisions that should not be subject to alteration. Such provisions include the declaration of Tatarstan a sovereign republic, he added. Although the Russian Constitutional Court ruled that only Russia enjoys sovereignty in areas such as foreign relations, Khekimov said, sovereignty may be shared in domestic affairs. Khekimov said a republican referendum is the only avenue to amending Article 1 of the Tatar Constitution, which declares the republic to be a sovereign entity that shares its sovereignty with the federal government according to the bilateral power-sharing treaty.

New Century To Maintain Cooperation With Unified Russia
The political council of the pro-governmental Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr (New Century) movement gathered on 7 February to discuss preparations for the 14 March elections to the republican parliament, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 9 February. The movement's leadership reportedly voted to join forces with Unified Russia, which proposed 43 candidates in 50 single-mandate districts and 48 candidates for 50 seats to be distributed according to party lists.

New Century, led by Tatar parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin, allied himself with Unified Russia in December's Russian State Duma elections, when the party's candidates won in five single-mandate districts and seven more Unified Russia representatives from Tatarstan entered the Duma within the party's lists.

In its 7 February resolution, New Century declared that it shares the ideas and views stipulated in Unified Russia's political program. Such views reportedly include a loyalty to the principles of federalism expressed in the Russian Constitution and respect for the rights of various ethnicities and religious faiths populating Russia.

Under federal election laws adopted in 1999, regional parties like New Century are prohibited from seeking election to national and territorial parliaments, and may enter such races only with federal political parties.

As for the Russian presidential vote, Mukhametshin invited the assembly to support Vladimir Putin's candidacy, as "we don't see any other forces capable of resuming the course of reforms."

Opportunities Outweigh Pay In Law Enforcement
Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov told a news conference on 6 February that the average wage of a police officer in Tatarstan is roughly 4,000 rubles ($137) per month, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 9 February. The minister added that salary is not considered the main factor in attracting young men to the police force, which can provide employees with free higher education. Seferov said it is difficult to ensure the discipline of police officers, because they were raised in the same environment as the criminals with whom they must contend, "but the young men have to be attracted by the noble idea of protecting and serving the citizenry."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar, Bashkir Leaders Demonstrate Different Approaches To Tatar-Bashkir Issue
Russian Tatar National Cultural Autonomy co-Chairman Ferit Urazaev told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 8 February that the recent presidential elections in Bashkortostan clearly showed that the republic's population has been divided along ethnic lines. Urazaev said Tatar-Bashkir relations are complicated by myths existing on both sides. If some articles in Tatarstan's media outlets promoted the idea that there is not in fact any Bashkir nation, in Bashkortostan there were people who declared that the Tatar people are one of the Bashkirs' main enemies. Urazaev also said the growth of the Tatar people is currently impossible without qualitative changes in Bashkirs' mode of thinking, primarily in their culture and ethnic environment, and on the other hand, the development of the Bashkir people is impossible without a change in Tatars' attitude toward the Bashkir people.

Meanwhile, the Bashkir World Congress Executive Committee stated at its meeting in late January that to improve relations between Bashkirs and Tatars in Bashkortostan, it is necessary to form respect among Tatars for the Bashkirs who gave them refuge in their land, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 8 February. Specifically, committee members criticized Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev for his statements calling for giving the Tatar language official status in Bashkortostan, calling them "interference in Bashkortostan's internal affairs."

Italy's Technimont To Construct Polyethylene Plant In Salawat
The Italian Technimont company and the Bashkir Salavatnefteorgsintez (SNOS) petrochemical company signed a $100 million contract on the construction of a polyethylene production line, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 February. The line will be assembled at the SNOS subsidiary Monomer. The new production line expected to be set up within 30 months and will produce 120,000 tons of polyethylene a year. Currently, SNOS produces 44,000 tons of polyethylene a year. In the late 1990s, Technimont constructed in Bashkortostan a plant at Ufaorgsintez capable of producing 100,000 tons of polypropylene a year. Recently, Technimont and Tatarstan's Nizhnekamskneftekhim signed a $130 million contract on beginning polypropylene production in Tuben Kama (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 November 2003).

Bashkortostan, Hungary To Set Up Joint Venture To Assemble Trolleybuses
Hungary's Ganz Transelectro Transaction Electronics and the Bashkir Trolleybus Plant will jointly produce trolleybuses adapted for the disabled and meeting European standards, Bashinform and RosBalt reported. A corresponding agreement was signed on 6 February by the Hungarian company's head Zoltan Dunai and First deputy Ufa administration head Vladimir Fedorov. A model of the vehicle designed for transportation of passengers with motor dysfunction was developed in September. The first trolleybus to be assembled in the first half of the year will be purchased by the Ufa administration.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova