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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 29, 2001

29 October 2001
Shaimiev Says Tatarstan Will Not Throw Itself Into Russia's Arms
Receiving a delegation of diplomats from European Union member states on 26 October, President Mintimer Shaimiev said Tatarstan's constitution is the only such legislation in Russia that still contradicts the federal constitution, Efir-inform reported. He said the republic's leaders are in no hurry to "throw themselves into Russia's arms."

Shaimiev said many forces in Russia are seeking a return to a unitary state while Tatarstan envisages the creation of a democratic federative state that is "difficult for Russia to construct." He said his own proposal for power-sharing, when offered to the Russian State Council, met with a hostile reception. Shaimiev's own plan includes political compromise, which he said is better than confrontation. Shaimiev also said setting up federal districts is "far from the best solution for the interaction of federal and local bodies." He added that envoys do not have constitutional rights. Shaimiev asserted that republican authorities have succeeded in maintaining the trust of the population and have stuck to promoting centrist policies. He also thanked ethnic-Russian residents for understanding Tatars' dilemma.

Federal Official Promotes Presidential Envoy's Receptions
The chief federal inspector to Tatarstan, Marsel Galimardanov, asked for more dialogue between the population within Tatarstan's raions and the presidential envoy, reported on 26 October. After holding a direct chat with readers of "Komsomolskaya pravda" in Tatarstan, Galimardanov said he expected tougher questions about bringing republican laws into line with federal legislation but that a majority of appeals were connected with social issues.

Government Seeks To Build Second Oil-Processing Plant
Sergei Kogogin, a deputy prime minister and Tatarstan's minister of economy and industry, said the issue of integrating the petrochemical sectors of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan may be excluded from the agenda of a meeting between the two republics' prime ministers in November, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 26 October. The idea of such a merger was agreed by Presidents Shaimiev and Murtaza Rakhimov at an August meeting but recently evoked criticism by Bashneftekhim board head Ural Rakhimov, who said, "Tatneft has no future." Kogogin said that if Tatarstan fails to become a co-owner of Bashkortostan's oil processing plant, it would have to construct one more such plant in the republic in addition to the one under construction in Tuben Kama. He said his ministry has already been charged with arranging a tender on the construction of a new plant. Kogogin noted that only outside investors could finance the project, as neither the republic's budget nor Tatneft have the funds to pay for another oil-processing plant.

Legislature Rejects Ban On Nuclear-Waste Imports
The State Council on 25 October rejected draft amendments aimed at prohibiting the import of spent nuclear fuel to the republic, reported. The amendments, proposed by a group of deputies and civic activists, was also dismissed by parliamentary legal counsel who said the issue is already regulated by federal laws. Deputy Marat Galeev told the session that the republican civic association Creation had collected more than 20,000 signatures protesting the import of dangerous waste to Tatarstan.

Tatarstan Cool On Railway Reform
Transport Minister Vladimir Shvetsov said on 26 October that Tatarstan's leaders realize the necessity of reforming railway transport but do not fully support measures proposed by the corresponding Russian ministry. He said new railway tariffs should not hurt producers and passengers. Shvetsov said republican authorities will promote their own approach to reform -- intended to reduce staff and close numerous enterprises of the sector.

Tatarstan Official Blasts Moscow-Led Reorganization
Yunus Kamaletdinov, the head of Tatarstan's Regional Refugees and Migrants Fund, said a decree by President Vladimir Putin abolishing the Federal Affairs and National and Migration Policies "paralyzes any activity existing since 1992 and aimed at helping refugees and migrants," Tatar-inform reported on 26 October. He said the Interior Ministry, charged with promotion of migration policy, has no experience in providing help to migrants.

Aslakhanov Wants Shaimiev To Join Russian-Chechen Peace Talks
Aslanbek Aslakhanov, a Chechnya representative in the Duma, said that regional leaders -- including Yurii Luzhkov, Mintimer Shaimiev, and Eduard Rossel -- rather than officials from the Chechen administration or commanders of Russian military troops, should take part in Russian-Chechen peace talks, RBK reported on 24 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Legislature Initiates Amendments To Federal Laws
The State Assembly on 26 October passed four legislative initiatives to amend federal laws. The proposals relate to the manufacture of hazardous goods, safety at hydro-electric facilities, illegal alcohol sales, and the adoption of federal laws determining culpability for drug rings, Bashinform reported. Deputies noted that only 4 percent of more than 1,000 hazardous-goods manufacturers in the republic are subject to corresponding federal legislation in its current form. More than half of 500 dangerous hydro-electric facilities are at the end of their useful life, but neither federal nor republican bodies are charged with reviewing them, deputies said.

Rakhimov Addresses Press-2002 Audience...
President Murtaza Rakhimov told attendees of Moscow's Press-2002 exhibition that the press must become an influential advocate of humanistic values, Bashinform reported on 26 October. Rakhimov stressed mass media's powerful role in maintaining and developing national cultures. Newspapers and magazines in Bashkortostan are published in six languages, he said.

President Signs Decree On Youth Subsidy
President Rakhimov on 26 October signed a decree establishing "allowances" for talented children, Bashinform reported. The measure provides 100 rubles ($3.40) every month for 60 schoolchildren who show the best results in their studies, creative activities, or sports.

Rakhimov Tells Municipal Services To Become Profitable
President Rakhimov said on 26 October that the main aim of the municipal-services sector should be providing services without sinking into losses and adapting to market conditions, Bashinform reported. At the same time, he stressed the importance of social safeguards for residents, adding that 860,000 consumers have received tax breaks granted through municipal-services bills.

Legislature Establishes State Flag Day
Bashkortostan's State Flag Day will be celebrated each year on 25 February, according to a decision by parliamentary deputies, Bashinform reported on 26 October. The law proclaiming such a holiday was adopted in 1992.

Ufa Drug Maker Provides Free Vaccine To Military Forces
Pharmaceutical company Immunopreparat delivered free anti-flu vaccines to military units of the Moscow, Leningrad, and Volga-Ural military districts along with Bashkortostan's Center for the Struggle Against AIDS and Infectious Diseases. The company's press service reported that 2.5 million rubles' worth of vaccine is enough to inoculate 380,000 residents. Rinat Bashirov, an official in the Volga-Ural military district, said that staff of units serving in Tajikistan and Chechnya will also be vaccinated.

Anthrax Infected Letter Found
A letter infected with anthrax bacilli was found on 20 October on the porch of a school in the Chishme village, 40 kilometers from Ufa, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 28 October. A sign "Greetings from the U.S.A." was written on the envelope in English and Arab. Deputy Emergency Situations Minister Damir Khanzafarov said the letter must have been soaked in an anthrax-infected solution and then dried.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova