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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 14, 2002

14 January 2002
Speaker Meets With Russian Audit Chamber Head, Envoy To Constitutional Court
State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin met with Russian Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin to discuss opening an audit chamber in Tatarstan and bilateral cooperation of financial bodies, Tatar-inform reported on 11 January.

The harmonization of Tatarstan's constitution and laws, as well as challenges aimed at republican laws before the Constitutional Court were on the agenda of Mukhametshin's meeting with the presidential envoy to the Russian Constitutional Court, Mikhail Mityukov.

Tatarstan, Tajikistan To Cooperate In Civil Defense, Emergency Situations Sector
During their recent visit to Tajikistan, the head of the republican presidential foreign relations department, Timur Akulov, and Tatarstan Emergency Situations Minister Valerii Vlasov met with Tajikistan's emergency situations and civil defense minister, M. Zieev, Tatar-inform reported on 11 January. The sides negotiated prospects for bilateral cooperation in civil defense, the prevention and elimination of emergency situations, and the possibilities for an intergovernmental agreement in that area.

Tu-160 Bombers To Be Modernized In Kazan
The Kazan aviation plant plans to begin modernizing Tu-160 strategic bombers this year, an unidentified senior representative of aircraft maker Tupolev told Interfax-AVN on 10 January. The agency reported that the Russian Defense Ministry and the Kazan plant signed a contract to repair and modernize 15 Tu-160s in the 22nd division. According to the ministry's plans, the newly modernized planes will be in use until 2030.

Siberian Tatars In Tyumen Seek Aboriginal Status
The head of the Tyumen national-cultural autonomy of Siberian Tatars appealed to Russia's minister without portfolio overseeing nationality issues, Vladimir Zorin, to give Siberian Tatars the status of aborigines with a dangerously thinning population, Tyumenskaya linia reported. The comments came at Zorin's meeting with leaders of Tyumen Oblast's national-cultural autonomies and diasporas on 10 January. The Siberian-Tatar leader said his people do not receive any support from Russia, CIS countries, or abroad, so the case should be treated in a special way.

Ulyanovsk Tatars Plea With Mayor For Cultural Facilities
The presidium of the Ulyanovsk Oblast Tatar national-cultural autonomy addressed an open letter to Mayor Pavel Romanenko, calling for measures to satisfy the cultural needs of Tatars residing in the oblast, "Medeni jomga" reported on 11 January. The authors stressed that at least 63,000 Tatars live in Ulyanovsk, according to the 1989 census, representing 12 percent of the city's population; but they say there are no Tatar schools, libraries, clubs, or nursery schools in the city. The autonomy leaders sharply criticized Ulyanovsk Deputy Mayor Nikolai Usenko and Oblast Duma Speaker Igor Mokevnin for what they deemed anti-Tatar activities.

Tatarstan Communists Prepare To Join KPRF
The Communist Party of Tatarstan (KPRT) is preparing to transform itself into the Tatar regional branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) to comply with federal legislation abolishing regional political parties, Tatar-inform reported on 11 January. Robert Sadykov, the secretary of the KPRT's republican committee, told the agency that only minor differences exist between the KPRF and KPRT programs and charters. Among other things, KPRT pays more attention to international and collective labor issues, he said. KPRT has elected delegates to the KPRF's eighth congress, due to be held on 19 January, and plans to vote on joining KPRF at its 10th extraordinary congress on 26 January, Sadykov said.

Republican Newspapers Losing Subscribers
Tatarstan residents subscribed to 1.13 million print publications in 2002, representing 77.6 percent of last year's rate, Tatar-inform reported on 10 January. "Tatarsan yeshlere" lost 6,000 subscribers, "Respublika Tatarstan" fell by 5,000, and "Watanym Tatarstan" by 4,500; meanwhile, "Kazanskie vedomosti" gained 5,000 subscribers. Subscriptions to Russian print media increased by 11.9 percent in the republic.

Deputy Premier Greets Journalists
Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Valeeva sent greetings to journalists and publishers on Russian Press Day, urging them to contribute to democratic reforms and the principles of civil society, interethnic concord, and the development of national traditions and cultures, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 12 January.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Court Rejects Russian Prosecutors' Constitutional Challenge
The Bashkortostan Constitutional Court on 28 December rejected all complaints by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office against more than 50 paragraphs of the amended Bashkortostan Constitution, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 13 January. According to the 72-page document, the "sovereignty" outlined in the Bashkortostan Constitution does not contradict the Russian Constitution. The introduction of republican citizenship also does not contradict Russian citizenship, the court concluded. The decision still has not been published, but republican law states that such verdicts are valid from their adoption date.

The Russian Constitutional Court ruled against some of those clauses in a 27 June 2000 ruling, when it determined that the declaration of sovereignty and other basic legal principles in the constitutions of Bashkortostan and five other national republics contradict the Russian Constitution. As a result, Bashkortostan amended its constitution on 3 November 2000. However, the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office has argued that there are even more discrepancies with federal law in the new version of the republican constitution.

Communists Praise 'Ordinary Bashkir' President...
The 7-13 January issue of the Communist Party weekly "Nash vybor" said the republic is lucky to have a president of high moral standards. In the reference to President Murtaza Rakhimov, it argued that Bashkortostan is fortunate to have an "ordinary Bashkir," rather than a lawyer, at its head. The weekly added that the plan to increase connectivity to gas pipelines can be compared to V.I. Lenin's "GOELRO" electrification plan.

...And Say Authorities Count 'Dead Souls'
More than 40 percent of newborns are registered as ethnic Bashkirs, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 13 January. The Communist Party weekly "Nash vybor" charged on 7 January that the republic's rural Trans-Ural raion authorities are using "dead souls" to increase local population figures, which have decreased sharply in recent years. Such "'dead souls' techniques" are also used during elections, the paper said.

Russian Justice Ministry Spurns Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy
Bashkortostan's Tatar national-cultural autonomy received a reply from the Russian Justice Ministry advising it to seek registration in court rather than address administrative bodies, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 13 January. The autonomy appealed to the Russian justice minister after failing to get registration from either the Bashkortostan Justice Ministry or the Russian Justice Ministry's republican board, in addition to numerous court proceedings.

Prosecutor Filed 120 Cases Against Police Employees
Bashkortostan Prosecutor Yaudat Turumtaev said on 11 January that his organization last year filed 120 cases against police employees accused of forgery, embezzlement, assault and battery, and traffic accidents, Bashinform reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova