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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 15, 2002

15 October 2002
Tatar Ethnologist Says Moscow Researchers Aim To Split Tatar Nation
In the wake of the nationwide census being held on 9-16 October, ethnologist Kamir Iskhaquov told an RFE/RL correspondent that the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences adopted a new list of nationalities in Russia in September. The new list of nationalities, used in the recent census, mentions more than 800 different ethnic groups, whereas the former list used for the 1989 census contained only 200 groups. Iskhaqov said that the new list divides the "Baptized Tartar" category into three new groups -- "'kryasheni, kryashentsi, kreshennie,' [which represents only the different interpretations of the Russian word for 'baptized'] while there was no line for Baptized Tatar." He also noted that the list referred to "Tatar-speaking Tipters and Bashkir-speaking Tipters," while Tipters are a subethnic group of the Tatar nation. According to Iskhaqov, this differentiation made possible the partial "transfer" of Tipsters to Bashkirs, however, the new list doesn't refer to Tatar-speaking Bashkirs who, according to the 1989 census, totaled some 300,000 people.

Federal Official Cites Complaints On Census Violations In Tatarstan
The federal inspector to Tatarstan, Denis Akhmadullin, told the daily "Vremya novostei" on 14 October that the federal authorities registered more than 60 complaints from the republic's residents claiming the census officers either "didn't use the official polling sheets during the voting procedure or filled in the voting questionnaires with pencil." Akhmadullin emphasized that these alleged violations "were mostly linked with the nationality graph" in the sheets. Tatyana Gorbacheva, a Russian State Statistics Committee representative in the federal district of Volga, arrived in Kazan on 13 October to investigate the complaints. Akmadullin added that "we should not overdramatize this situation" until the allegations have been proven.

Orthodox Priest Killed In Nurlat...
Ilya Efimov, an 85-year-old Orthodox Christian priest, was killed near his home in Tyurnyasevo village in the Nurlat region of Tatarstan on 14 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. According to Vladimir Kozlov, deputy chairman of the Religions Affairs Board under the republic's cabinet of ministers, this is the first assault on a religious figure in several decades.

...And Muslim Leader Says Murder Has No Religious Background
Waliulla Yakub, the deputy chairman of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board, told on 15 October that Efimov's murder was not related to religious or political beliefs, adding that the investigators in the case share this opinion.

Yakub noted that the Nurlat region has always been multiethnic, peacefully combining Chuvashs, Tatars, and Russians, "so there could be no interconfessional conflicts." He also mentioned that he believes the assault "has nothing to do" with the recent act of vandalism against the St. Tatyana church construction site in Chally (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 14 October 2002). Yakub also said that the memorial event dedicated to the 450th anniversary of the conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible on 13 October "proceeded peacefully" and "the activities of political, criminal, and nationalist groups were attentively followed.

KAPO Looks For A New Engine For Tu-214
Kazan Aviation production enterprise (KAPO imeni Gorbunova) is currently studying the possibility of equipping its Tu-214 planes with engines other than the usual PS-90A2s, invented by the Perm Aircraft Engine Company (OAO Aviadvigatel) and the Canadian-based Pratt & Whitney Company, FinMarket reported on 14 October. KAPO is reportedly considering equipping its aircraft with jet engines produced by Pratt & Whitney or the Samara Scientific Technical Plant.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir President Says Proposed Executive Reforms Conform To Federal Law...
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov said he sees no contradiction between a plan to abolish the republican post of president and federal legislation (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 and 14 October 2002), "Kommersant" reported on 14 October. "We are very familiar with federal legislation, and the head of the government, who is the most senior executive official, will be elected by popular vote," Rakhimov said. "But [the prime minister] will be subordinate to the State Assembly -- the powers of which, especially control and financial, we will significantly increase. Our constitution will be in complete conformity with Russian basic law." He said the aim of the planned reform of Bashkortostan's political system is to bolster democracy and openness in the legislature, adding, "The only president should be in Russia."

...And Reflect Daghestan Model...
A spokesman for President Rakhimov, Marat Yamalov, told "The Moscow Times" on 14 October that legal experts are drawing up a new Bashkir Constitution that transfers executive-branch powers to parliament, adding that the draft should be completed by the end of the year. Yamalov said it is unclear whether the Constitution must be approved by a region-wide referendum. "It could be approved by our parliament, or maybe only its major points will have to be approved," Yamalov said. He said the conversion faces no legal roadblocks "because Daghestan has this sort of government and it has proven to be very suitable for multiethnic republics." Yamalov said each item in the draft Bashkir Constitution will have to be approved by the Kremlin commission headed by deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak, which was formed to oversee power-sharing and regional issues. Yamalov said a draft has not yet been sent to the Kozak commission.

...While Analysts Doubt
Aleksandr Postnikov, head of the constitutional law department at the federal government's Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law, said Daghestan is a lone exception under federal law, with an executive branch that resembles a parliament, "The Moscow Times" reported on 14 October. The Daghestan State Council, which comprises representatives of each of the region's more than 35 ethnic groups, elects its chairman, who serves as the regional leader. "It [such a reform] could only happen in Bashkortostan if the republic initiates amendments to the federal law and the law is changed," Postnikov said.

A 1999 law on regional executive and legislative bodies states that the leader of a regional executive branch must be elected by popular vote. An exception was made for regions that already elected leaders by "a special meeting of representatives," as allowed by the Russian Constitution. "This exception is the subject of constant debate, and many say it must be abolished," Postnikov said.

Yurii Korgunyuk, an analyst at the Indem think tank, said that in recent months the Kremlin's envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, has repeatedly accused Bashkir President Rakhimov of refusing to cooperate with federal authorities. "That is why the new constitution is being prepared," Korgunyuk said. "Rakhimov needs another post." Korgunyuk said he believes that Rakhimov will not seek to abolish the presidential post. "The president would simply become a bureaucrat fulfilling the role of the republic's representative," Korgunyuk said. "All the power would end up where Rakhimov would move to -- the parliament."

Valerii Fedorov, the director of the Center for Contemporary Politics in Russia, said the plan would pose a threat to Bashkortostan and any other region that tried to follow suit, if adopted. "After serving all their terms as president, these leaders would get to preserve their power by changing hats," he said. "This would cause stagnation and an end to the natural replacement of government personnel and the elite, which is essential for any political system."

Liberal Russia In Bashkortostan Sticks With Berezovskii
The political council of Liberal Russia in Bashkortostan protested a decision by the party's federal body to expel party co-Chairman Boris Berezovskii, reported on 14 October. The Bashkir branch issued a statement saying the publication of Berezovskii's interview in "Zavtra," in which the media magnate said he is willing to cooperate with anyone who is willing to oppose the Putin regime, was necessary, timely, and useful. Bashkortostan party members said Berezovskii's position is logical and well-founded, since the party was refused registration. They said the party's leaders issued unclear statements and actions, and there were no close ties between central and regional bodies, which stopped receiving any financial aid. The statement's authors said Berezovskii revived the liberal movement in Russia and cast doubt on co-Chairmen Sergei Yushenkov and Valeriya Novodvorskaya, suggesting it was a move to deprive Berezovskii of a leadership role. The Bashkir branch stated its support for Berezovskii and appealed to him to initiate a gathering of Liberal Russia's federal political council in London. The agency said other regional branches of Liberal Russia have expressed their support for the position of the Bashkir organization.

President Meets With Presidential Staffers
President Rakhimov met with subordinates to Russian presidential administration head Vladislav Surkov and Dmitrii Kozak to discuss federative relations and the republic's social and economic development, the presidential press service reported on 14 October. The same day, Rakhimov took part in celebrations organized by the Russian government to honor agriculture and food-sector workers. He took part in a meeting of the heads of Russia's entities that have enjoyed major successes in the agricultural sector at a Moscow agricultural academy. Bashkortostan reported a record grain harvest in the current year of 4.5 million tons of grain.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova