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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 26, 2001

26 October 2001
Shaimiev, Putin Agree On Constitutional Amendments
President Mintimer Shaimiev told a session of Tatarstan's State Council on 25 October that, at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin the previous day, the two leaders agreed on the shape of amendments to Tatarstan Constitution to bring it into conformity with Russia's. Shaimiev said the meeting was "very detailed" and that discussions included a wide range of issues concerning the republic's socio-economic development and the structure of state institutions. He said harmonization of the republic's constitution will be discussed at a parliamentary session in November and added that he is going to give deputies at this session "full information" on agreements with Moscow.

President Shaimiev also took a shot at the leaders of Tatar nationalists picketing the State Council building, saying he had offered them his office if they could propose a practical plan to promote the republic's independence. No one present responded, Shaimiev said. "We must think about the practical realization of slogans, but they do not think," he said.

Picketers Demand Defense Of Tatarstan Sovereignty
Some 30 members of the Tatar Public Center and the public association Creation staged a picket near the State Council building on 25 October calling for the defense of Tatarstan's sovereignty, reported. They called on deputies "to defend the republic's sovereignty or resign." President Shaimiev reminded the picketers that it is necessary to maintain civilized relations with Moscow and that the republic's leaders are defending their position on several controversial paragraphs of the constitution in current harmonization talks.

Prosecutor's Office Demands Dissolution Of Tatarstan's Legislature
The Tatarstan Prosecutor's Office has called on President Shaimiev to declare the State Council illegitimate, "Izvestia" reported on 25 October. Deputy Prosecutor Vladimir Metelin told the newspaper that parliament had not meet a legislative conformity deadline, set by Moscow, of 18 October; it can therefore be considered illegitimate, he said. State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said at a parliamentary session on 25 October that "the republic's leaders are looking for ways to resolve the issue and at the same time promote the interests of the republic and its...people." He said he believes a compromise suiting both Moscow and Kazan will be found.

Tatarstan Parliament Supports Initiatives Of Sakhalin, Bashkortostan, Tomsk Oblast Legislatures
Tatarstan's State Council at a 25 October session supported a host of initiatives proposed by the legislatures of Sakhalin, Bashkortostan, and Tomsk Oblast. The first proposes that administrative borders between federal republics be changed only with the agreement of those subjects. Under the second initiative, federation members are permitted to form bicameral parliaments in which one chamber may be composed of district administrative leaders. The third proposal charges Russian courts with ensuring the observance of regional legislation alongside federal laws in regions. The State Council also initiated an amendment to federal legislation, according to which schoolteachers working in urban schools as well as those from rural educational institutions should be granted a deferment of military service. Tatarstan's legislature passed amendments to laws on referendums, administrative responsibility for improper alcohol sales, employment, and on emergency situations.

Prosecutors Pursue Tatar National Movement Leader
Rafael Mukhammetdinov, a Tatar national movement leader, was invited to the prosecutor's office and presented with charges that he was advocating civil disobedience and the creation of "shadow government" at a 14 October gathering, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 25 October. Prosecutors said he could be sentenced to two months of correctional work or receive a 1,500-ruble fine. Mukhammetdinov said the measures he proposed are civilized protest actions and a common democratic practice of opposition. He said he had not called for any violence. The weekly noted that FSB employees from Moscow had made video-recordings of the meeting.

General Motors Withdraws From YelAZ-GM
General Motors Vice President David Herman told Interfax on 24 October that his company is no longer a shareholder in Alabuga-based joint venture YelAZ-GM, which will change its name to YelAZ. He said GM returned its 25 percent stake, adding that it was a joint decision of the American and Russian sides. Set up in 1995, YelAZ-GM stopped assembly of the Chevrolet Blazer and Opel Vectra automobiles in late-2000 because of low demand.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Prepares Government Reforms
President Murtaza Rakhimov plans to sign a decree aimed at reforming Bashkortostan's government, reported on 25 October. The website cited an unnamed source within Rakhimov's administration. According to the reported draft, the state committees on land resources and on science and education will be abolished. The cabinet's staff will be shuffled and reduced, including fewer deputy prime ministers.

Federal Official Praises Bashkortostan For Automobile Transport Development
President Murtaza Rakhimov met with Russia's first deputy transport minister, Anatolii Nasonov, to discuss regional transport and road policies, cooperation between the federal Transport Ministry and republican institutions, and budget relations between Moscow and federal regions. Nasonov lauded the republic's efforts to develop automobile transport, roads, and infrastructure and praised the leading enterprise in the sector, Bashavtotrans.

Russian Commander In North Caucasus Applauds Servicemen From Bashkortostan
General-Colonel Valerii Baranov, the commander of Russian united troops in the North Caucasus region, sent a letter to President Rakhimov to thank him for good training of penal-system employees that have completed their service in the Chechen Republic, the presidential press service reported on 25 October. More than 90 employees served in Chechnya between 11 July and 18 October.

Meanwhile, a new detachment of Bashkortostan Interior Ministry employees, led by Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Patrikeev, is due to leave for Chechnya's Urus-Martan on 25 October, ITAR-TASS reported. More than 200 law-enforcement employees from Bashkortostan have served in Chechnya and Dagestan since 1995; seven have died and another 47 have been injured.

Bashkortostan's Newspapers Among Winners Of Press-2002 Exhibit
Bashkortostan's newspapers "Beloretskii rabochii" and "Yanaulskiye zori" were among the winners for "Best Design" and "Best Photo Portrait," respectively, in the international exhibition Press-2002 in Moscow, Bashinform reported on 25 October. "Zianchurinskiye zori" and "Alsheevskiye vesti" received honorary mention in the competition.

Bashkortostan Delegation Leaves For Fatherland, Unity Congress
The leader of Fatherland in Bashkortostan and Duma Deputy Rim Bakiev, the rector of the Ufa technological institute of services, Aleksandr Degtyarev, and Bashkir University Assistant Professor Rustam Akhmadinurov -- together with another 20 delegation members -- will represent Bashkortostan at the second congress of Fatherland and Unity on 27 in Moscow, Bashinform reported.

Tu-154 From Ufa Forced Into Emergency Landing In Norilsk
A Bashkir Airlines Tu-154 jet with seven crew and one passenger was forced to make an emergency landing at Norilsk Airport on 25 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Equipment failure was reportedly the cause.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova