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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 29, 2001


29 November 2001
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
President Says Power-Sharing Treaty Is Key To Ethnic, Religious Stability...
In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 November, President Mintimer Shaimiev said, "We can hardly ever imagine a situation in which we could give up the [power-sharing] treaty" between Moscow and Kazan. Shaimiev noted that the treaty provided ethnic and religious stability in Tatarstan as well as in its relations with Moscow.

...And Calls For Revision Of Budget Relations With Moscow
In the same interview, Shaimiev again stressed inefficiency and the lack of constitutional status of federal districts, saying their current situation cannot continue. He said a federal law on local self-governance is badly in need of amendment, adding that power-sharing legislation also must be introduced.

Shaimiev said the current distribution of budget revenues between Moscow and federation members may invite the dissatisfaction of many regional leaders. Even net beneficiaries, together with donor regions, have begun to understand the necessity of returning to federalism, he said. He stressed that Moscow provides no more than the salaries for budgetary employees and makes no investments in regions, though it siphons off money they collect.

Shaimiev said the current structure of the Federation Council is the "worst possible" and suggested that members of the upper chamber be elected directly by voters in the next Duma elections. He added there is no reason to hold early Duma elections.

Shaimiev Rejects Russian Troops In Afghanistan...
The Tatarstan president also said terrorism must be eradicated, but expressed concerns about the post-war future of Afghanistan and Russia's influence in the region. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin should promote Russia's interests and maintain influence in Afghanistan, and retain a civilized presence in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. He said an Afghan government must not be particularly pro-American and Russia's further role should be taken into account during post-war arrangements there. Shaimiev said Russia should support international efforts to block the financial flows of terrorist organizations and exchange intelligence while promoting diplomatic efforts aimed at the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But he added that Russia should not go so far as to send troops to Afghanistan for participation in the antiterrorist operation.

Shaimiev said reactions to the 11 September terrorist acts by Russia's Muslim leaders -- Muftis Ravil Gainutdin, Talgat Tadjuddin, and Gusman Iskhakov -- was similar to that of secular authorities. He claimed their responses were the result of a decades-old, officially propagated atheism.

...And Promotes Jadidism As 'Secular' Euro-Islam
President Shaimiev called on religious leaders and secular scientists to jointly develop a form of "secular" Islam that could suit Russia and European countries. He added that Jadidism, dubbed "Euro-Islam" and inspired by Tatar leaders at the turn of the 20th century, meets these requirements. Shaimiev said he discussed the issue with President Putin and found it of interest to the Russian leader.

Russian Peoples' Assembly Leader Says Authorities Afford Islam Second-Rate Status
Ramazan Abdulatipov, the chairman of the Russian Peoples' Assembly Council, told "Vek" on 23 November that Islam is treated as a second-rate religion in Russia. He criticized state practices in which Orthodox leaders take part but Muslim leaders are not invited.

Abdulatipov said any new world order should harmonize the interests of the West with those of the Orient. He said people should overcome their disdain for other religions rather than try to convert people of a different faith.

He noted that none of the mass media reported on a recent congress of the Russian Peoples' Assembly, which attracted 670 delegates and adopted a Charter on Civil Rights and a report on national policy.

Russian Envoy May Be Replaced By Career Military Man
The presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, may leave his post, nns.ru reported on 23 November, citing an unofficial report in the Samara "Reporter." The publication named the likely successor as airborne troop commander Gennadii Shpak, adding that the shuffle is not connected with Kirienko's performance but rather with the Kremlin's wish to strengthen a district that includes two Muslim republics. In the 1990s, Shpak served as the commander of the Volga military district in Samara.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
State Bodies Resume Preparations For 2002 Census
Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee is to hold a seminar to teach employees "how to compose organizational plans during the national census on 2002," Bashkir state TV reported on 28 November. According to previous media reports, statistics bodies began instructing officials in rural areas of Bashkortostan more than a year in advance of the census. According to those responsible for preparations, the necessary preparations are about to begin in cities with populations of less that 100,000.

Commission Urges More Spending To Combat Drug Abuse, HIV
Shamil Gabbasov, chief of the republican anti-AIDS center and a member of a special commission against the spread of HIV said on 28 November that the virus os "claiming more victims among drug addicts, many of whom are teenagers." Other committee members appealed to Bashkortostan's government the same day, saying that more medical assistance must be provided to drug addicts and that state media should feature anti-drug messages.

Agrarian Party Unhappy With Farmers' Earnings
The Bashkortostan chapter of the Russian Agrarian Party held its republican conference on 27 November, attended by Agriculture and Food Minister Grigorii Gorobets, representatives of President Murtaza Rakhimov's staff, and farm leaders. Party leaders expressed dissatisfaction with statistics showing that residents of rural areas represented 32 percent of the republic's population and earned 7-8.5 times less than bank or oil-company employees. The conference also agreed to send seven delegates to the party's state-wide conference on 8 December in Moscow.

Ufa's Industrial Wages Outpace Gains In Output
Bashkortostan's major industrial center, Ufa, has so far increased output by 5 percent in 2001, Bashinform reported on 28 November. During the same period, industrial workers reportedly received an average 60 percent increase in pay, bringing the average salary to 4,127 rubles ($138).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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