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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 15, 2000

15 May 2000
Tatar Officials On Putin's Redivision Decree
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, said a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin dividing Russia into seven federal okrugs will simplify how the federal center deals with its territorial entities, Russian media reported on 14 May. According to the decree Putin signed on 13 May, Tatarstan will be a part of the Volga federal okrug with its capital in Nizhnii Novgorod.

Historian Damir Iskhakov, an adherent to the idea of sovereignty for the republic, said in an interview with Tatar Television on 14 May: "I'm greatly afraid that these structures are actually aimed at abolishing the existing territorial division within Russia. Of course, this will require constitutional reform, but I think that then a question on constitutional reform will also arise. It seems to me that these structures are aimed at the creation of the so-called 'non-national' territorial entities of Russia."

Rif Garifullin, the secretary of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of Tatarstan, told Tatar Television the same day that "autonomy is first of all a national center for a people. It is optimal for Tatars to be in the territory of Tatarstan, and for Bashkirs in Bashkortostan. I don't think that from a moral point of view it is expedient to destroy the existing structure."

Putin Suggests Bashkir Legislators Change Republican Constitution
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter to Bashkir legislators urging them to bring the Bashkortostan's constitution into accordance with the Russian Constitution and federal legislation, the daily "Vremya i dengi" reported on 12 May, citing Interfax. Putin indicated in the letter -- sent to the chairman of the republic's State Assembly -- which articles of the republic's constitution contradict the principles of the federative system. The letter pointed out that the Bashkir constitution supports the idea of the republic as a full-fledged subject of international law including independent participation in foreign economic relations, interstate unions and commonwealths, the conclusion of international treaties, and the exchanging of diplomatic, consular, and other officials with the right to appoint responsible officials given to the president of Bashkortostan. Putin indicated that republican legislation contradicts federal law concerning human rights and freedoms, citizenship, passive suffrage in election of Bashkortostan's president, currency and customs regulations, strengthening monetary and credit systems, ownership for public property, and the appointment of the republic's public prosecutor. Putin adds that according to the republican constitution, the "president has the power to announce a state of emergency and the State Assembly has the right to confirm such a presidential decree" -- measures that also contradict the Russian Constitution.

Officials from Putin's administration were cited as saying that currently the constitutions of all Russian republics except for Udmurtia "don't fully correspond to the Russian Constitution." They said, however, that many legislative documents in Russia's territorial entities "were adopted out of the necessity that arose when federal legislators were late in adopting corresponding decisions."

Representatives from the presidential administration said there are no plans to send a similar appeal to Tatarstan in order to bring the republican constitution into correspondence with federal legislation.

Promeksport General Manager Visits Kazan
An agreement on cooperation between the Republic of Tatarstan and Promeksport, one of Russia's two arms exporting companies, was signed on 12 May, Tatar Television reported. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met the same day with the Promeksport chief, Sergei Chemezov, to discuss prospects for possible projects and contracts between Tatarstan's defense industry enterprises and Promeksport. Shaimiev told the press after the meeting that Promeksport should be interested not only in the military production of the republican companies but in consumer goods as well. Chemezov reported at the news conference that the delegation was interested in the refrigerators produced by the Yeshel Uzen POZIS plant. He said POZIS has fulfilled half of its contract with China for deliveries of $1 million worth of ammunition, and the second half will be completed next month.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova