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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 12, 2002


12 November 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Last Member Of 1999 Sabotage Group Faces Second Trial In Kazan
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 12 November began hearing the case of Ramazan Ishkildin, who is suspected of sabotaging the Perm-Nizhnii Novgorod sector of the transnational Urengoi-Pomari-Uzhgorod gas pipeline in the Quqmara region, Tatarstan, on 1 December 1999, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported.

Eleven people, including Ishkildin, from Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, and Kirov Oblast were already tried by the Supreme Court in 2000 and received from 12 1/2 to 14 years in prison for what that they explained as an attempt "to draw the attention of the Western countries receiving gas from Russia to the Chechen problem." The 12th member of the group was found legally irresponsible and was confined to a mental hospital.

The pipeline explosion reportedly caused the local branches of Gazprom more than 8 million rubles ($251,700) in total damages and temporarily froze gas deliveries from Siberia to the European part of Russia. Investigators said that the group was trained in the camps of Chechen warlords Shamil Basaev and Khattab. After the trial, Ishkildin, an ethnic Bashkir born in Bashkortostan, managed to escape but was detained on 26 June trying to cross the Russian-Azerbaijani border (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 July 2002).

Constitutional Court Discusses Term Of Tatarstan's Sovereignty...
Tatarstan's Constitutional Court gathered on 11 November to elaborate an official interpretation of Article 1 of the new Tatar Constitution by request of republican parliamentary deputies Marat Galeev and Indus Tahirov, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 November. The article says that the Republic of Tatarstan is a democratic legal state united with the Russian Federation by means of Russian and Tatar constitutions and the power-sharing treaty signed between Moscow and Kazan in 1994 and a subject of Russian Federation. This provision also states that Tatarstan's sovereignty is expressed by possessing the full scope of legislative, executive, and judicial powers outside the scope of Russian authority and this sovereignty is an inalienable feature of the republic.

The court session involved Kazan State University professor of political science Midkhet Farukshin and professors of law Boris Zheleznov and Gennadii Kurdyukov, who stated that being a republic within the Russian Federation, Tatarstan may still retain its sovereignty, which according to international experience can be partial or limited. They also stated that the term of "absolute sovereignty" was "medieval" because only a unitary state could possess it, while federative states have their sovereignty divided.

Farukshin also referred to the 1992 ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court, which rejected the claim of the Russian Supreme Court against Tatarstan's Sovereignty Declaration adopted on 30 August 1990. He added that the recent rulings of the Russian Constitutional Court restricting Russia's entities from declaring their sovereignty "are subject to political bias, because in their legal works Constitutional Court Chairman Marat Baglai and his deputy Vladimir Strekozov admit the existence of partial sovereignty."

After the hearings, the Tatar Constitutional Court declared that its final resolution will be issued in a closed-door session on a date to be disclosed.

...As Supreme Court Rejects Suit Against Tatar Constitution
Ilgiz Gilyacev, deputy chairman of Tatarstan's Supreme Court, told Intertat on 11 November that his court rejected the suit by the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office against more than 50 provisions of the new Tatar Constitution adopted in 2002. In October, Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev appealed to the Tatar court to protest the constitutional articles declaring the republic's sovereignty within the field of its authority, instituting its citizenship, requiring presidential candidates to know both the Russian and Tatar languages, and stipulating that relations between Russia and Tatarstan are regulated by the bilateral power-sharing treaty signed in 1994.

Judge Radik Gabdullin rejected the appeal by stating that it didn't specify the Russian state interests violated by the constitution and the date from which the Prosecutor-General's Office asks to recognize the constitutional provisions as not in compliance with federal laws. He had officially offered Zvyagintsev to eliminate these inconsistencies by 30 October. Zvyagintsev, however, did not respond, so the Supreme Court rejected the case.

Government Delegation To Establish Ties With Khanty-Mansii Autonomous District
A Tatar government delegation led by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov is due to visit Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug on 14 November, meeting its governor, heads of the region's leading industries, and leaders of the local Tatar community, Tatar-Inform reported on 11 November. The sides are also expected to sign a treaty on trade-economic cooperation.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Uzbek Air Company Opens Flight To Ufa
The Uzbekiston Havo Yullari air company opened direct flights between Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent and Ufa on 10 November, Privolzhe news agency reported the same day. Representative of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry in Bashkortostan Zinnur Mardanov said at the presentation of the new flight in the Ufa airport that the event presents "a new stage in the development of relations between Bashkortostan and Uzbekistan." A British-produced RJ-85 jet that can seat some 80 passengers will be used on the route.

Bashkir Delegation Pays Thanks In Germany
A Bashkir delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ramil Mirseev is to leave for the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, to officially thank local people who helped search for victims of the 1 July midair crash over southern Germany that killed 71 people, Bashinform reported on 11 November.

Scholar Says Census Shows Sharp Increase In Bashkirs...
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 11 November, ethnologist Ildar Gapterefiqov reported unofficial census data, according to which the number of Russians in Bashkortostan totaled 32.2 percent of the population, while during the 1989 census they made up 39 percent. The number of Bashkirs totaled 29.5 percent, up from 21.9 percent in 1989. The number of Tatars was 24 percent, down from 28.4 percent in 1989. Gapterefiqov said the final figures could change slightly, but the results will nevertheless show a sharp growth in the number of Bashkirs, which is connected with the decrease in the number of Tatars.

...Comments On Ethnic Aspect Of Government Reform
Gapterefiqov said the political reform currently being discussed in the republic has its ethnic aspect as well. Under the current system of a presidential republic, the republic's president needs to maintain support from the republic's two leading peoples, Russians and Tatars, while under a parliamentary system, the republic's leader won't need to do so.

Bashkir Group Leader Says Political Reform Promotes Growth Of Democracy
Assembly of Peoples of Bashkortostan Chairman Niyaz Mejitov told Bashinform on 11 November that several external and internal factors influenced the decision by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to initiate a reform of the republic's political system. Mejitov said Bashkortostan has made a great leap forward in many spheres in recent years, and any reform in the republic was made with the participation of the president. The potential of presidency has likely not been exhausted, Mejitov said, adding that the constitutional reform is a considered political maneuver by Rakhimov aimed at preserving the political course and growth of democracy. A temporary period of chaos caused by the parliament's inability to adequately react to a situation may be the undesired result of the reform, Mejitov added.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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