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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 22, 2002


22 March 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Parliamentary Commission Seeks To Maintain Tatarstan's Status In Constitution
The Tatarstan State Council's Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues on 20 March proposed maintaining paragraph 61 of the Tatarstan Constitution, specifying the republic's status as "a sovereign state, a subject of international law associated with Russia on the basis of the power-sharing treaty" intertat.ru reported the same day. The site noted that such relations with Moscow were approved in a referendum. Commission Chairman Razil Valeev said, "No one has a right to change referendum results." The new version of the constitution defines Tatarstan as "a democratic...state, united with Russia by the constitutions of Russia and Tatarstan and the power-sharing treaty, and a full-fledged federation subject."

Duma Postpones Until April Discussion Of Script Amendment
The Duma Council on 21 March withdrew from the legislative agenda of the 22 March plenary session debate on a draft amendment to the law on languages of Russia's peoples that would ban the use of non-Cyrillic scripts, Tatar-inform reported, quoting Deputy Fandas Safiullin. The postponement was initiated by Russian Regions faction leader Oleg Morozov to make way for further consultation. The agency said that Unity faction leader Vladimir Pekhtin, one of the amendment's authors, has removed his signature from the draft.

Meanwhile, "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 21 March wrote that Vladislav Surkov, the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, gave an "iron directive" to pass the amendment on the first reading on 22 March. Then, Surkov reportedly plans to impede the process in order to "hang up" Tatarstan to make the republic more compliant on the new draft constitution.

On 21 March, the World Tatar Congress appealed to Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and the leaders of Fatherland All Russia and Russian Regions factions, Vyacheslav Volodin and Oleg Morozov, to protest the draft amendment. Tatar leaders said the bill contradicts the constitutional right of republics to choose state languages, intertat.ru reported.

Tatarstan Interior Minister Said Targeted By Criminal Leaders
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 21 March quoted Tatarstan Television as reporting that the leaders of several Kazan criminal groups gathering recently in Moscow's Sevastopol Hotel agreed to launch a media campaign in Moscow and Tatarstan to discredit Tatarstan Interior Minister Asgat Safarov and allocate roughly $1 million for the effort. The paper asserted that the removal of Safarov �- who it says is "utterly devoted" to President Mintimer Shaimiev -� from the post might indicate that Shaimiev himself would be the next target. The paper as well cited rumors that former Tatarstan Interior Minister Iskander Galimov may be appointed a deputy presidential envoy to the Volga district in charge of law enforcement. The event would signal sharp strengthening of Shaimiev's opponents in the district leadership, "being anyway not very friendly to Tatarstan," the weekly commented.

National Policies Minister Reportedly Encouraging Siberian Tatars To Differentiate Themselves In Census
"Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 21 March that Russia's minister without portfolio in charge of national policies, Vladimir Zorin, backed a distinction between "Siberian Tatars" and "Tatars" in the 2002 census while visiting Tyumen. Intertat.ru reported on 14 March that Zorin promised to include Siberian Tatars into a "peoples registry," provide subsidies, and help resolve their problems. Currently, there is not a single Tatar school in the Tyumen Oblast, where 200,000 Tatars live.

Kazan Helicopter Plant, United Technologies Discuss Cooperation Projects
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 20 March met with a delegation from United Technologies to discuss prospects for cooperation in certification, marketing, licensing, production, and servicing the Kazan-produced Ansat helicopter on Russian and international markets, intertat.ru reported. Minnikhanov said possible cooperation projects joining United Technologies subsidiaries Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney with Kazan Helicopter Plant KVZ will enjoy the support of the Tatarstan government.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Presidential Representative Makes Official Ufa Visit
The deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, arrived in Ufa on 21 March to discuss harmonization of federal and regional legislation with President Murtaza Rakhimov, RIA-Novosti reported. Surkov told reporters in the Ufa airport that his one-day visit is aimed at discussion of the 2003 federal parliamentary elections. The agency quoted a source in the Bashkortostan presidential staff saying that inter-budget relations between Moscow and the republic and implementation of federal programs in Bashkortostan is also in the agenda. Surkov was accompanied by United Russia leader Aleksandr Bespalov, the Duma's Russian Regions faction head Oleg Morozov, the presidential administration's chief territorial board head, Andrei Popov, secretariat deputy head Valentin Rumyantsev, and the deputy presidential Volga district envoy, Lyubov Glebova. The visitors met with the heads of United Russia in Bashkortostan.

Legislature Outraged By Court Verdict On Bashkir Constitution
Legislative Assembly deputies at a plenary session on 21 March heaped criticism on a 15 March verdict by the Bashkortostan Supreme Court invalidating or deeming as contradictory to federal law 44 of 55 constitutional paragraphs challenged by Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Deputies stressed that a political campaign against harmonization of the Bashkortostan Constitution with the federal one is aimed against the Russian Constitution itself. The legislature formed a commission to study the court verdict.

Elections Chairman Head Says Rakhimov Could Run For Two More Terms
"Izvestiya" on 20 March quoted Bashkortostan Central Election Commission Chairman Baryi Kinzyagulov saying there are no legal obstacles to Murtaza Rakhimov running for a third term. Kinzyagulov stressed that "republican electoral legislation completely conforms with federal law, under which Rakhimov theoretically can stand for president two more times." The Yakutian variant is impossible in Bashkortostan, since such a move by Rakhimov does not contradict either local or federal law, the Election Commission official said.

Citing financial considerations, Kinzyagulov again backed the idea of changing the date of presidential elections slated for June 2003 in order to hold them together with other balloting -� for the local parliament, the State Duma, and the Russian presidency -� due to be held between March 2003 and March 2004. He said such a measure is permitted under federal legislation that allows for changing the term of elections by up to one year. President Rakhimov has said he will agree with any decision that the Bashkortostan parliament will accept on the issue.

Meanwhile, "Kommersant" on 20 March speculated that several factors may prevent Rakhimov's re-election. Firstly, it said, a group of Duma deputies have appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court over an amendment permitting a third term for governors; the court still has not replied. Secondly, Bashkortostan authorities, after backing away from the idea of postponing presidential elections until December 2003 in order to hold them together with the Duma elections, were confused by a discussion that began in Moscow to postpone the Duma elections until March 2004. The continuing dispute between Moscow and Ufa on the Bashkir Constitution is the third obstacle to Rakhimov's re-election, the paper said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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