Accessibility links

Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 16, 2002

16 January 2002
Speaker Predicts Special Status For Tatarstan, Return Of Powers To Federation Entities...
State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin told the RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Service on 15 January that the policy of strengthening vertical power should be revised after the Russian presidential elections in two years' time. Mukhametshin said centralized power is inefficient in such a big country, adding that with time, federation members will regain their powers all the same.

Speaker Mukhametshin also said Tatarstan's status -- being "associated with Russia" -- will be impossible to maintain, but he added that Tatarstan will continue to have unique relations with Moscow. He said that unique status stems from the fact that the republic did not sign the federation treaty, opting instead for a bilateral treaty with Moscow. Mukhametshin predicted that Tatarstan will maintain its bilateral treaty and at the same time have to include in its constitution a principle specifying the republic's inclusion within the Russian Federation.

...And Calls On Russia To Exploit Its Multi-Ethnic Nature...
Mukhametshin labeled the idea of annulling national republics promoted by some federal leaders a "big mistake." He stressed that maintaining different ethnic groups in Russia is the duty not only of those groups themselves, but of the whole of Russia as well. He said it would be incorrect to specify in the Tatarstan Constitution that the republic is a form of Tatar self-determination, since the republic is also multi-ethnic. At the same time, Tatarstan does not have the resources to satisfy the cultural needs of all of Russia's ethnic Tatars outside the republic. However, the new version of the Tatarstan Constitution identifies Tatars as the people on whom the republic is founded and the people that gave the republic its name, he said, adding that this principle has evoked sharp protest from Moscow.

The development of Tatar language and culture, in fact a duty of the federation, should remain the exclusive duty of Tatarstan itself -- since Russia neither wishes nor is able to fulfill this task -- Mukhametshin said. The federal budget should provide Tatarstan with additional subsidies for these activities, he added.

...Names Another Candidate For Senator
Speaking at a State Council presidium meeting on 15 January, Speaker Mukhametshin named State Council Deputy Chairwoman Irina Larochkina a candidate for parliament's representative to the Federation Council. He said the appointment of Larochkina, who represents republican women and Russian residents, would reflect the centrist position of Tatarstan's leadership.

Commenting on the legal challenge being considered by the Russian Constitutional Court, the speaker again stressed that the court will likely issue a compromise ruling to enable Tatarstan's current legislature to complete its full term and pass constitutional amendments.

Putin Prepared To Invite Pope
In an interview published in Poland's "Gazeta wyborcza" on 15 January ahead of his Polish visit, President Vladimir Putin said there are no problems in relations between Russia and the Vatican. Putin stressed that he is ready to invite the Pope to Russia any time. But Pope John Paul II is seeking to settle relations with the Russian Orthodox Church -- something, Putin said, that does not depend on him. "I can only impel the establishment of relations between churches enjoying full rights," Putin said, adding that he is making efforts in this direction.

Ministry Promises More Lessons In Russian Language
The Russian Education Ministry said the volume of studies in Russian as a state language will be increased under new curricula being developed for schools with instruction in Russian, reported on 15 January. The measure will be applied especially to the Russian-speaking population, according to the ministry. It also reported a flow of letters from Tatarstan residents concerned that "the Russian-speaking population does not undergo enough [teaching] in the Russian language."

Tatar Cultural Forum Held In Khanty-Mansii Okrug
Days of Tatar Culture opened in Surgut on 15 January, SIA-press reported. The event was arranged by the Tatar national-cultural autonomy of the Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug and Tatarstan's trade-economic representation. It is devoted to the seventh anniversary of the cooperation accord between Tatarstan's Culture Ministry and the Surgut administration.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Legislative Speaker Says Regional, Federal Laws Serve Distinct Purposes...
Speaking at a seminar of Bashkortostan administration heads on 15 January, parliamentary Speaker Konstantin Tolkachev once more outlined the advantages that the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Ufa and Moscow provided toward the republic's development, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Tolkachev stressed that federal and regional laws deal with their own domains; thus it would be difficult -- and undesirable -- to bring regional laws into full conformity with federal legislation. He criticized federal legislators for their interference in the activities of their regional counterparts. Tolkachev said treaties, rather than laws, can serve as instruments for power-sharing between federal and regional authorities.

...Adds That President Will Be Granted Greater Powers
Speaker Tolkachev said at the same meeting that the powers of Bashkortostan's president will soon be increased to enable him to react more quickly to change. The republican parliament will in no way agree with a protest by the Prosecutor-General's Office against the new version of the Bashkortostan Constitution, he added.

Bashkortostan, Surgutneftegaz Boost Ties
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and visiting Surgutneftegaz General Manager Vladimir Bogdanov on 15 January signed an agreement on the main principles for cooperation between the republic and the oil company, Bashinform reported. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov said the document provides for a stable supply of oil to the republic's companies. Rakhimov said the republic produces 10-12 million tons and processes 25 million tons of oil a year. Under the agreement, the republic will receive 5-6 million tons of oil in each of the next five years.

Authorities Promote Bashkir Newspapers In Tatar Districts
Bashkortostan authorities have launched a campaign fostering the establishment of Bashkir-language newspapers in the republic's Tatar-dominated raions, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 14 January. The "Dyurtoile awazy" newspaper was launched by the Bashkir World Congress local branch in Dyurtoile Raion. In the Belebei Raion, where Bashkirs make up 4 percent of the population, "Belebei kheberlere," a newspaper being issued in Tatar and Russian since 1917, this year launched a Bashkir version.

Bashkortostan Supreme Court Clears Registration Of Tatar Writers Union
Bashkortostan's Supreme Court passed a ruling permitting the registration of the republic's Tatar Writers Union, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 14 January. The union has been seeking registration since 1994.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova