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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 4, 2002

4 March 2002
Deputy Says Rejection Of Republican Citizenship Violates International Law
State Council Deputy Marat Galeev has accused Moscow of seeking to unilaterally annul treaties with federation entities, adding that Tatarstan cannot be forced into such a move, reported on 1 March. Commenting on the issue of republican citizenship, Galeev charged that the denial of citizenship within federation members contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserts that no one can be "arbitrarily deprived of citizenship." He said he believes the Duma is not likely to agree to "such a violation of international law." Galeev stressed that, without republican citizenship, the republic's multi-ethnic population will be unable to decide on its own fate. He proposed accentuating this point in the constitution to safeguard the institution of citizenship.

Meanwhile, Duma Legislation Committee head Pavel Krasheninnikov said some paragraphs of a new draft of the Tatarstan Constitution contradict laws crafted by his committee. Specifically, republican citizenship may become cause for new protests by prosecutors, he said.

State Council Elects New Deputy Chairman
Marat Magdeev, 50, was elected Deputy State Council chairman at a 28 February parliamentary session, republican media reported. The post fell vacant after Irina Larochkina was appointed a senator in the Russian Federation Council. Magdeev has headed a parliamentary oversight committee since 2000.

Constitution's Second Reading Slated For 29 March
The State Council will gather on 29 March to begin debate over the second reading of a draft Tatarstan Constitution, reported. The document was approved in its first reading on 28 February (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 March 2002).

Popular Front Opposes Revision Of Tatarstan Constitution
Some 15 public organizations held a meeting to establish an organization called the Popular Front for the Defense of Human and People's Rights and Tatarstan's Sovereignty, Tatar-inform reported on 1 March. Representatives from the Tatar Public Center, the Idel-Ural movement, the Magarif association, and the Azatlyq Tatar youth union attended. Farid Khabibullin, who was elected to head the organization, said the so-called "Popular Front" is intended to defend Tatarstan's sovereignty and peoples right to self-determination. Participants criticized the planned revision of the Tatarstan Constitution and called for maintaining the republic's decade-old constitution.

Moscow Tatars Seek More Tatar Schools
Rifkat Galimov, the president of the Moscow Tugan Tel society, said 65 percent of Tatars living in Moscow have called for opening schools and kindergartens where the Tatar culture can be taught, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 2 March. Galimov was commenting at a roundtable of Moscow Tatar organization leaders held by the Nationalities Affairs Department of the Federation Affairs Ministry to discuss problems within the Moscow Tatar community. Galimov said that as a result of Tatars' questioning, the Moscow government's Education Department has charged okrug bodies with taking measures to meet Tatars' requests. But education departments among okrugs are refusing to do this, he said.

Akhmet Galimov, the leader of the Russia-wide umbrella group Mejlis, meanwhile called for the establishment of nationalities chambers in the federal and Moscow parliaments to defend the interests of ethnic minorities.

Tatneft Profit Falls By 30 Percent
Oil company Tatneft's gross profit slipped by 30 percent to 20 billion rubles ($645 million) in 2001, reported on 1 March, citing website The company's income totaled 90 billion rubles ($2.9 billion), 16 billion rubles less than the previous year, the agency said.

General Says Term Of Military Service To Be Cut
The president of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences, General Makhmut Gareev, said call-up for military service will be maintained but the term of service will be reduced, reported on 1 March. Gareev said army reform is a "resolved issue," adding that "the establishment of a professional army is now inevitable." He said a reasonable compromise will be found between proposals to introduce a six-month service, on the one hand, and to preserve the existing two-year term, on the other. The general stressed that under the current demographic trend in Russia, it may be impossible to call anyone up by 2005. He added that "contemporary super-complex armaments need professionals."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

CEC Head Promotes Holding Bashkir Presidential Election In December 2003
The chairman of the Bashkortostan Central Electoral Commission, Baryi Kinzyagulov, called for removing presidential elections in the republic for December 2003 and holding them simultaneously with the elections of Russian Duma deputies and republican parliament members, "Trud" reported on 1 March. Kinzyagulov said that otherwise the republic's residents will have to go to the polls at least four times during 2003. He said the 3,500 polling districts involve roughly 40,000 electoral-commission members in the republic with its 3 million voters, so combing elections at different levels will save a lot of money. Presidential elections in Bashkortostan are to be held in June 2003.

Former Communist Senior Official Says Tatars Were Registered As Bashkirs In 1979 Census
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 3 March, Tahir Akhunzyanov, the secretary in charge of ideology on the Bashkortostan Communist Party (KPSS) Oblast Committee in 1970s, explained the reasons why Bashkortostan's Tatars were registered as Bashkirs in the 1979 census. Akhunzyanov said the nationality policy of the KPSS was "the top object of criticism by bourgeois propaganda," which constantly stressed that the number of Bashkirs decreased during the Soviet period. Indeed, if 1.3 million Bashkirs were registered in 1913, in 1926 their number fell to 645,000 and then never reached the pre-revolution level, Akhunzyanov said. He asserted that Western propaganda used this fact to prove that the Soviet system sought to annihilate nations. "In order to prevent this, we agreed to define nationalities of population by their history," investigating "who they were in the past, maybe, assimilation strongly affected them," he said. And people in villages that formerly were Bashkir areas "were registered as Bashkirs even without asking them" since "ordinary people do not know their nationality, the only thing they know is that they speak the Tatar language," Akhunzyanov stressed.

Russian President Appoints New FSB Head In Bashkortostan
President Vladimir Putin dismissed Major General Viktor Yevtushenko from the post of the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board in Bashkortostan and appointed Colonel Igor Chernokov body new head, the FSB in Bashkortostan press service reported on 1 March. Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov attended a board meeting the same day in Ufa and thanked Yevtushenko for his "fruitful work in fighting foreign intelligence services, organized criminality, and terrorism."

Hearing On Bashkirenergo Challenge Postponed
The Bashkortostan Arbitration Court postponed till 12 March a hearing on the complaint of Bashkirenergo against the 20 December court decision charging it to pay Russia's United Energy Systems (EES) 182 million rubles ($6 million), reported on 1 March citing Bashkirenergo press secretary Vyacheslav Abramenko. He said the postponement was due to the need for additional documentation. Russia's EES owns 21 percent of Bashkirenergo shares.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova