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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 6, 2003

6 February 2003
Parliamentary Speaker Comments On Case Against Tatar Legislators
In an interview with ITAR-TASS on 5 February, Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin commented on the 31 January ruling by the republic's Supreme Court ruling against the suit filed by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, who sought official confirmation that Tatar legislators ignored rulings by different courts when amending the Tatar Constitution in 2002 (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 and 31 January 2003).

Mukhametshin said: "Tatarstan's State Council had no intentions of evading the resolutions of judicial bodies. In our opinion we absolutely, lawfully reproduced the constitutional provision on Tatarstan's limited sovereignty [from the previous constitution], which is expressed in possessing the full scope of state authority outside the Russian Federation's field of authority. Article 73 in the Russian Constitution quite unambiguously indicates this."

Mukhametshin emphasized that the State Council elaborated the republic's constitution relying on Article 66 of the Russian Constitution stipulating that the republic's status within the federation is defined by the federal and republican constitutions, Article 5 declaring the republic within the federation a state and the first part of the final and transitional provisions referring to Section 2 of the constitution. Commenting on the other items in Zvyagintsev's suit, Mukhametshin explained that Tatar legislators complied with Russian constitutional Article 68, which allows the republics to introduce their own state languages when introducing the requirement of knowing both Tatar and Russian for presidential candidates.

He also admitted that according to federal and republican legislation, Tatarstan's Supreme Court as the judicial body of common jurisdiction had no right to consider constitutional issues arising between the center and the regions.

Parliamentary Commission Elaborates Agenda For Next Plenary Session
The Tatar State Council's Committee on State Building, Local Self-Government and Foreign Affairs officially proposed a new draft law on referendums in the republic to replace the one adopted in October 2001, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 6 February. The revision is reportedly necessitated by the recent changes in Russian and Tatar legislation, after federal legislators adopted a new law on elections and Tatarstan's legislature adopted the new constitution and the law on the republic's election commission and the territorial election commissions.

Under the draft law, referendums may only be initiated by the citizens or public unions, while the president or parliament are deprived of such a right. It also introduces stricter regulations on referendum campaigns and bans gambling on the referendum's results.

Kazan Asks For IBRD Loan to Cover Budget Deficit...
The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is considering the possibility of granting the Kazan city administration a $200 million loan to cover the city budget deficit, Intertat reported on 5 February, citing Mayor Kamil Iskhakov. The money will reportedly be used for repairing the public buildings and apartment blocks, sewage, and other urban networks. If the IBRD agrees, the loan would be given to the federal government, which on its behalf will direct it to Tatarstan's government.

...As Mayor Draws Bright Picture Of City's Development
Speaking at a meeting of the General Council devoted to socioeconomic development, Iskhakov said that Kazan has built more housing in the last five years than even Moscow, at 2.53 square meters of new apartments per capita to Moscow's 2.1 square meters.

He also said that the Tatar capital has the highest annual industrial growth in Russia, at 75.6 percent, while Moscow and St. Petersburg report 54.6 and 65.9, respectively. Iskhakov commented on these figures by praising the strong potential of Tatarstan's banking system and the attraction of foreign investment to the republic's economy.

KamAZ Reports Soaring Sales
Despite the predicted slump of sales in early 2003, KamAZ automaker recorded sales of more than 1.5 billion rubles ($47.1 million) in the first month of this year, which is 70 percent higher than in January 2002, according to KamAZ's press service on 5 February.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

WWF Project To Enter Phase 2
The second stage of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) project on preserving biological diversity in the Ural Mountains Taiga ecoregion will go ahead as planned, Bashinform reported on 5 February. This stage of the project will focus on the introduction of technology to ensure the sustainable use of certain plants, the development of ecologically safe tourism in the region's forests, the training of personnel in the field of environmental protection, and the dissemination of information about wildlife management. The further implementation of the project was jeopardized in early January (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 January 2003), but according to Ferit Gebdullin, a department head from the Bashkir State Environmental Protection Committee, the situation has been rectified.

Republican Resident Sues Federal Government
Ufa resident Yevgenii Kareev filed a suit on 5 February in Moscow's Presnenskii Raion Court against the Russian government for, he claims, illegally blocking traffic for government motorcades. Kareev said that for a long time the government has "persistently and demonstratively violated Russian residents' constitutional rights of equality before the law and freedom of movement" by blocking streets to provide passage for the motorcades of high-ranking officials. Two days earlier, Kareev filed a similar lawsuit against the Bashkir government in an Ufa court (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 February 2003). Kareev said he decided to increase the scale of the case because of the reaction from the mass media and Russian people. He said that many people from other regions have contacted to him to say that they are planning to launch similar suits in their regions, which is what led him to filing the federal case. He added that the new Civil Procedure Code that came into force in February allows for class-action lawsuits.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova