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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 21, 2000

21 July 2000
Tatars World Congress Head Comments On Constitutional Issue
Indus Tahitov, The chairman of the Executive Committee of the Tatars World Congress and Tatarstan State Council deputy, told RFE/RL correspondence on 20 July that the Russian Constitutional Court ruling on contradictions between the constitutions of individual republics and the federation's basic law is not a legal but a political measure. He said that by adopting this decision, the Constitutional Court interfered in politics, a step that might result in difficulties for the court itself. Tahirov recalled that former head of the Russian Constitutional Court Valentin Zorkin was also involved in a political conflict between then President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian Supreme Council and subsequently had to forfeit his career. He continued that this time the Russian Constitutional Court is following the same path. Tahirov added that the Russian Federative Treaty explicitly defines the republics of Russia as sovereign states, thus the court's ruling violates that treaty and is thus not viable and constitutes a big mistake. Tahirov said that it is a dangerous for Putin himself to set to work on another problem without solving a previous one to engage in a conflict with governors and regional leaders as long as the Chechen war is not over and then begin to fight the oligarchs. Tahirov said that the anniversary of the Sovereignty Declaration on 30 August will be celebrated this year on a larger scale than ever before.

Round Table Still Dreams About Dissolving Tatarstan's Parliament
The anniversary of last year's hunger strike by representatives of the round table uniting Tatarstan's 10 small opposition parties and movements was marked on 19 July in Kazan's Svobody Square, Tatar media reported. Members of the Round Table members told reporters that they have appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to dissolve Tatarstan's parliament and hold new elections. They issued a statement urging that Tatarstan's electoral legislation be brought into line with federal documents, that the Constitution of Tatarstan be amended in line with the principle of the division of powers, and that a professional parliament be formed on a majority-proportional basis. One year ago, 15 representatives of the radical opposition, including pro-Russian democrats, communists, nationalists, and centrists, held an 11-day hunger strike in a bid to force the Tatarstan authorities to make changes in the electoral legislation.

Gasoline Official: Tatarstan Not To Face Gasoline Deficit
Deputy General Manager of the Tatnefteprodukt holding, Khafiz Gafarov, told the daily "Vremya i Dengi" on 20 July that neither a gasoline deficit nor a rise in prices is expected in the near future, despite the fact that sales grew by 1.5 times in July and the company increased prices by 2.5 percent. In Gafarov's opinion, next year gasoline prices will rise by 40-50 percent. Tatnefteprodukt owns 30 filling stations out of a total of 55 located in Kazan.

By Gulnara Khasanova