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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 28, 2001

28 December 2001
State Council Chairman Vacates Seat On Federation Council
State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin has resigned from his seat on the Federation Council, Tatarstan media reported on 27 December. However, the Tatarstan parliament won't succeed in appointing a new member by the 1 January deadline, media said. "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 27 December referred to unidentified source saying Sergei Shakhrai, a member of the Russian government in early 1990s responsible for relations with Tatarstan, has been approached for the post. Shakhrai was also one of the authors of the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Kazan. "Zvezda Povolzhya" the same day named the head of Tatarstan's National Bank, Yevgenii Bogachev, and Russian Ambassador to Europe Vasilii Likhachev among possible candidates.

National Leaders Protest Amending Federal Language Legislation...
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 27 December published an open letter from the leadership of the Tatar Public Center in Chally and the civic movement Milli Yort and addressed to Tatarstan's deputies in the Russian Duma -- Salimkhan Akhmetkhanov, Aleksandr Salii, Sergei Shashurin, and former Tatarstan State Council Deputy Rinat Mukhammadiev. The letter protests their promotion of amendments to a law on languages within the Russian Federation. The national activists said the adoption of such amendments will lead to the annihilation of languages of non-Russian peoples of the country and, as a result, to the abolition of national republics -- and Tatarstan's statehood.

...And Promote Tatar-Bashkir Confederative Republic
Speaking at the ninth congress for friendship, brotherhood, and cooperation of Turkic states and peoples in Istanbul, Rafael Mukhammetdinov, a leader within the Tatar Public Center and the Public Forum of Tatarstan, called for strengthening the dialogue between Tatar and Bashkir civic organizations aimed at the defense of sovereignty of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 27 December. Mukhammetdinov said public organizations and peoples should contribute to harmonizing the positions of the two republics' authorities. He said the establishment of a confederative Tatar-Bashkir Republic should be a goal.

Duma Deputy Unhappy With Budget Relations Between Moscow, Regions
In an interview published in "Respublika Tatarstan" on 27 December, Duma Deputy (Regions of Russia) Oleg Morozov called existing inter-budget relations between Moscow and regions "feudalism," adding that they suit only those regions which cover over 60 percent of their expenses with subsidies from the federal budget. Morozov said the strengthening of vertical power was unavoidable but noted that it is still unclear which model of a federative state should emerge from that process. He said the institution of presidential envoys was created without the necessary legal groundwork. Morozov as well criticized the existing process for forming the Federation Council and called for elections via referendums in the respective regions. Morozov evaluated "extremely negatively" the process of privatization in Russia, but spoke against "revolutionary" revision of its results as a "ruinous" move.

Tadjuddin Says Invitation To Pope Is 'Provocation'
Talgat Tadjuddin, the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, called "provocative" an invitation sent by Tatarstan Mufti Gusman Iskhakov to Pope John Paul II to visit Kazan, reported on 27 December. Tadjuddin said that traditional faiths in Russia include Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism, so when inviting other religious leaders -- including the pope -- one should take into account controversial issues in relations between faiths and maintain good relations between Orthodox believers and Muslims.

LDPR In Tatarstan Demands 'More Democratic' Elections
Members of the ultranational Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia in Tatarstan staged a picket on 27 December on Freedom Square to demand that the next elections to the republican State Council be "more democratic," Efir-inform reported. The picketers also called for parliamentary elections in Tatarstan to be guided by voting for party lists, rather than for individuals.

Bashkortostan's President Says Tatarstan's Latinization Policy A Mistake
In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 27 December, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov called Tatarstan's intention to introduce the Latin-Tatar script a mistake. Rakhimov said that, in the event, Bashkortostan will also face a problem and difficulties for Tatars in the educational sector will be created.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

President Says Tadjuddin Should Be Recognized As Chief Mufti In Russia...
President Murtaza Rakhimov told "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 27 December that Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin should be recognized as chief mufti in Russia despite opposition from several other Muslim leaders, including Tatarstan's and the Caucasus' muftis and the chairman of the Russian Muftis Council, Ravil Gainutdin. Rakhimov said Tadjuddin, who represents the 300-year-old Ufa Muslim Board, should be provided a staff and headquarters in Moscow. Rakhimov criticized Moscow's one-sided policy aimed at the promotion of the Russian Orthodox Church and ignorance of Islam. He said Bashkortostan is a multi-ethnic and multi-faith, rather than a Muslim, republic.

Rakhimov Criticizes Absence Of Federalism In Russia...
In the same interview, President Rakhimov called the situation around federalism in Russia "complex," saying no federalism exists in the country. He expressed his disagreement with the absence of a Bashkortostan representative on the commission on power-sharing.

Rakhimov sharply criticized the institution of presidential envoys, saying it brings "nothing but harm." He said the heads of republican and regional governments do not understand the concept of "vertical power" and called for greater powers for the heads of territorial entities. Rakhimov said the Federation Council in its current shape has "no future," as it was formed in violation of the Russian Constitution.

Rakhimov said Russian President Vladimir Putin's initial moves as president are "not bad," adding, "If he continues in such a manner, we will support him." But Rakhimov rejected prolonging the Russian presidential term, saying one should respect the Russian Constitution.

...And Calls On Moscow To Begin Peace Talks With Chechnya
Rakhimov called on federal authorities to begin peace talks with Chechen representatives. He said 270 Bashkortostan residents have died and 1,000 have been injured in Chechnya. Some 500 policemen from the republic are currently serving in Chechnya, he added.

Bashkreditbank, Saxony Bank Sign Credit Agreement
Bashkreditbank and Germany's Landesbank Sachsen Girozentrale signed a 661,000 euro credit agreement to finance deliveries of equipment produced by Gerischer & Schroder Holzbearbeitungsmaschinen GmbH & Co. for the production of building materials in Bashkortostan, Finmarket reported on 27 December. The project is financed under guarantees from the Saxony government provided by a cooperation agreement between it and Bashkortostan.

Bashneft Head Resigns
Bashneft General Manager Nur Saifullin has submitted his resignation, "Kommersant" reported on 27 December, adding that Saifullin will focus on his work at Bashkirenergo, where he is board chairman. He remains president of the Bashkir Fuel Company (BTK). The daily commented that the move was "unexpected" and suggested that it was connected with Saifullin's criticism of a government project to merge Bashneft and Bashneftekhim. First Deputy General Manager Ampir Syrtlanov was appointed acting head of Bashneft. Syrtlanov headed Bashneft until October 2000, when Saifullin replaced him.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova