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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 26, 2002

26 April 2002
Shaimiev Discusses Federative Relations...
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said all of the power-sharing treaties between federal authorities and the regions may be annulled one day, when the powers of state and regional organs are stipulated in laws, but not at the moment, reported on 19 April. Shaimiev said the issue requires complicated work to harmonize the interests of the federal authorities and the various federative subjects, while, for the time being, individual power-sharing treaties should be maintained (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 April 2002).

Commenting on the suggestion by President Vladimir Putin that such treaties be approved by the Russian State Duma, Shaimiev said that, "If we were to phrase our demands correctly regarding the ethnic, cultural, and religious peculiarities of the regions, then we would be listened to." The Tatarstan president said he will be happy if the Russian parliament passes power-sharing treaties into law. He said such treaties will be different to a certain extent in that they will provide equal rights, as well as equal legal and economic conditions, for the subjects of the federation and they will take into account the peculiarities of the national regions.

Shaimiev asserted that the power-sharing treaty between Tatarstan and Russia needs to be modified after the adoption of Tatarstan's new constitution. He suggested that a commission be established to come up with a treaty that would take into account a new stage in Russia's development, as well as the interests of Tatarstan and the Tatar people.

...And Calls On Moscow To Share Responsibility With Regions
Speaking at a congress of the United Russia political party in Moscow on 25 April, President Shaimiev, who co-chairs the party, criticized the lack of balance between the responsibilities of central authorities and the regions. He said Moscow collects taxes from the regions but takes no responsibility for what is actually happening in those same regions.

President Shaimiev pointed out that under federal legislation, numerous categories of citizens have a right, for example, to free use of city transportation. In Tatarstan alone, there are 804,000 such residents and the republic spends 1.3 billion rubles ($42 million) a year on such federally provided privileges in transport and municipal services. Shaimiev said those bodies that introduce such privileges should also pay for them. The president noted, however, that he does not want such privileges to be eliminated or even reduced, but simply that they should not be a burden for republic-level budgets.

Shaimiev also called on the federal government to support small and medium-sized businesses and to reduce the number of activities that require a license, of which there are currently about 2,000. He also stressed the necessity of a strict division of powers between authorities of all levels, a measure that would help reduce the number of civil servants in the country.

Ideologist Says Muslims Paid Little Attention In Russia...
Gleb Pavlovskii, president of the Fund for Effective Policy, told "Vostochnaya politika" on 19 April that the Russian state has to oversee the politicization of Russian Muslims but it is unable to do so. Pavlovskii said that no attention is paid to Muslims in Russia except when one of them takes hostages. This policy of ignorance is keeping the country stuck in its past, unable to move forward. Pavlovskii stressed that Islam is not necessarily contrary to nationalism, adding that an Islamic version of the "nation of Russia" is quite possible.

Any form or Islam, even "militant and irreconcilable" Islam, should be allowed to express its views, but if it is done in a violent manner or in a manner that promotes violence, then it must be suppressed, Pavlovskii said. He pointed out that the public and politicians want a "modest Islam" whose followers can be ignored. Our Russian Orthodox ancestors, however, had a different opinion, which attracted Muslims during the establishment of the Russian state, Pavlovskii said.

...As Muslim Leader Praises President Putin's Statement Against Extremism
Farid Asadullin, head of the Department of Science of the Muslim Religious Board of the European Part of Russia (DUMER), said cases of hooliganism and vandalism by teenagers, which have recently become more frequent, and the growth of intolerance toward non-Russians undermine the foundations of civil society and discredit the very idea of a state governed by law, reported on 19 April. Asadullin said principles based on morals and respect toward members of all peoples and nations must dominate in civil society.

Asadullin was commenting on the statement by Russian President Putin in which Putin said that the growth of extremism is a serious threat to Russia. Asadullin said the Putin's 18 April state-of-the-nation address filled him with the belief that the state and society will succeed in preventing the growth of nationalist and extremist organizations.

Prosecutor Unhappy With Adopted Constitution
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 23 April quoted Tatarstan's chief prosecutor Kafil Amirov as saying that Tatarstan State Council deputies will have to return once more to a second reading of the republic's draft constitution that was passed in its third reading on 19 April (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18, 19, 22 April 2002). If President Shaimiev signs the document in its current form, "deputies will have to be brought to their senses" by means of lawsuits, the paper said.

The report said that the majority of the issues raised by Moscow and Amirov have been ignored. In particular, Amirov disagrees with provisions specifying that Tatarstan is a state "united with the Russian Federation by its power-sharing treaty" and that it is sovereign, even if in a restricted sense. The daily noted that Amirov's claims against Article 108 alone, which describes the powers of the Cabinet of Ministers, would fill out an entire newspaper.

President Shaimiev told a press conference on 23 April that he is satisfied with the adopted version of the Tatarstan Constitution and is going to sign it in the near future.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Publicist Claims To Have Revealed The 'True Ethnic Identity' Of Tatars In Tuymazi
An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 23 April reported on an article by Bashkir journalist Zeytune Khanova in the same day's issue of the Bashkir weekly "Yashlek" that claims that 60 percent of the residents in the area around the town of Tuymazi who consider Tatar to be their native language (based on 1989 census results) are actually "Tatarized Bashkirs." That census reportedly showed that over 50 percent of the city's residents were ethnic Tatars. Khanova also stated that it not possible to speak about any Tatar villages in Bashkortostan, adding that the Minzele and Bogelme regions of Tatarstan were dominated by Bashkirs before those territories became part of the Republic of Tatarstan in the early 1920s. Khanova also expressed surprise that there are no Bashkir theaters or schools in Tatarstan.

Rakhimov: Putin's Message A Sign Of Constructive Federalism
President Murtaza Rakhimov made a public statement on 23 April assessing Russian President Vladimir Putin's 19 April state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Rakhimov said that the message "expected by the nation for a long time didn't disappoint me, although it quite tersely mentioned the regional problems." He added that in his opinion "the [best thing] about Putin's message is its positive pragmatism and practical orientation. We are glad to see the similarities of many of the message's ideas with Bashkortostan's policies." Rakhimov said the address "officially confirmed the legitimacy of treaties between the center and the regions, their conformity with the [Russian] Constitution, and the possibility of treaty-based power sharing. It is all proof of [Putin's] constructive approach towards the problems of federalism."

Bashkir Youth Union Urges Denunciation Of Amended Republican Constitution
The chairman of the monitoring council of the Bashkir Youth Union, Airat Dilmukhametov, said at a press conference on 25 April that "only tatter remained" from Bashkortostan's first constitution after the law harmonization procedures of 2000-2001, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. He suggested that "there was no point" in protecting the republic's fundamental law in its present shape and it was necessary to "initiate the adoption of a new constitution."

Religious Organizations In Bashkortostan
According to the Religious Affairs Council of Bashkortostan's Cabinet of Ministers, 947 religious organizations are currently registered in the republic, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported. About 86 percent of them reportedly belong to Muslim and Orthodox Christian religions. Some 558 of the organizations have already managed to obtain registration at the republican branch of the Russian Justice Ministry.

Rakhimov's Warns Media In Annual Message To The State Assembly
In his annual speech before Bashkortostan's parliament on 20 April, President Murtaza Rakhimov stated his trust that "the mass media [of the republic] will undertake all possible efforts in maintaining stability in the republic," Bashinform reported the same day. Rakhimov also said that within Bashkortostan's language policies "the priority is given not only to the Bashkir language which is one of the state languages in the republic, but also to a careful attitude toward the languages of other people living in Bashkortostan."

Gazprom Appoints New Person To Head Its Branch In Bashkortostan
As a result of Gazprom officials' visit to Bashkortostan on 11 April (see the "RFE/RL Tatar/Bashkir Report," 16 April), Mokhemmetnur Veliev, the general director of the Bashtransgaz venture owned by Gazprom, was sacked one year before his retirement, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported on 24 April. Gazprom reportedly revealed a number of problems in Veliev's work dealing with the efficient operation of local gas networks. The gas monopoly reportedly appointed Aleksandr Yeremenko, the former head of the Ufa branch of the International Industrial Bank, to replace him. Veliev had reportedly worked at his post for 24 years.

Judges Fail To Reach Agreement On Charges Against Supreme Court Chairman
A judges' conference began on 26 April in Ufa, Bashinform agency reported the same day. The event reportedly will use the annual reports by top judicial officials of the republic to discuss the embezzlement charges against Supreme Court Chairman Marat Vakilov. According to Bashinform, due to contentious discussions between the judges, two hours after the conference began it still had not managed to elect a chairman or pass an agenda.

Tatar Artists Receive High Marks At International Art Fair
Four Tatar artists from Bashkortostan, Airat Teregulov, Rasikh Akhmetvaliev, Nail Bayburin, and Radik Garifullin were present at the international fair Art Moscow, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 25 April. The newspaper reported that the modern Tatar artists were reviewed as highly as some of the top Russian painters at the fair.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Photographer Says He Was Ordered To Create Reportage About Skinheads
Vladimir Bogdanovskii, the head of a photographic club in Chelyabinsk, told Ural-Press-Inform on 22 April that the current tension concerning skinheads is created artificially by certain political forces. Bogdanovskii said that a year ago people from Moscow repeatedly asked him to produce a photographic reportage about fascist organizations and promised a large fee. When he answered that there are no fascist groups in Chelyabinsk, they said, "Make them exist," and promised to pay even more. Bogdanovskii said he refused the suggestion. He asserted that Moscow is interested in rousing a threat from skinheads, adding that this is a well financed and organized campaign aiming to promote certain political plans and legislative initiatives. "When we assert that fascistic organizations act in our country, we cover ourselves with disgrace that does not exist in reality," he said.

Synagogue, Lenin Monument Defiled In Perm
A synagogue was defiled in Perm early in the morning on 22 April, Region-Inform-Perm reported the same day. Swastikas and anti-Semitic inscriptions were found drawn on the walls of the synagogue. The agency quoted experts from the police and Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying that the act was not likely by an organized group of extremists but rather ordinary hooligans committing vandalism.

Representatives of the synagogue told Region-Inform-Perm on 23 April that they will not remove the inscriptions for several years in order to attract publicity to the problem.

Also in Perm, a Lenin monument was vandalized on the eve of the communist leader's birthday, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 22 April. Vandals spilled paint on the monument and covered it with obscene words.

Saratov Oblast Government Enthusiastic About Construction Of Balakovo AES
Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy Bulat Nigmatulin said his ministry plans to construct four new nuclear energy blocks by 2005 and five more facilities before 2010, Saratovbusinessconsulting reported on 23 April. Nigmatulin was speaking at a board meeting of the Union of Territories and Enterprises of Atomic Power Engineering of Russia discussing a long-term investment program for the development of the sector. However, even after the new facilities are constructed, nuclear power will total only 40 percent of all energy produced in the country, Nigmatulin said.

Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told the meeting that the oblast government is resolved to continue the construction of the Balakovo nuclear power station (Balakovo AES). "Even if the federal budget cannot find means for this, we are ready to take credits," Ayatskov said.

4,000 Teenagers Demonstrate In Yekaterinburg
The head of the public safety department of the Yekaterinburg Interior Board, Sergei Mochalin, said over 4,000 teenagers staged a demonstration in Yekaterinburg on 20 April to oppose skinheads and defend their right to listen to the music they like, "Novyi Region" reported on 22 April. Mochalin called the event a spontaneous antifascist action. He said the teens were aggressive and armed with sticks, chains, baseball bats, and other things. Police detained 168 participants of the rally. Mochalin said not a single ethnically motivated fight or crime was registered in the city. He sympathized as a whole with the wish of the teenagers to defend their rights but said this should be done within legal means.

Nazi Literature Found In Yekaterinburg
Nazi literature and symbols as well as materials of the Russian National Unity (RNE) were seized in an apartment in Yekaterinburg on 20 April, "Novyi Region" reported on 22 April citing the oblast interior board. Police detained in the apartment four residents of Tyumen Oblast who described themselves as students.

Miners Continue Hunger Strike In Sverdlovsk Oblast
Four miners at the Yegorshinskaya coal mine in Sverdlovsk Oblast continued a hunger strike they began on 10 April to demand their wages be paid, "Novyi Region" reported on 19 April. Five other participants in the protest action accept meals but refuse to leave the mine. The miners have not been paid since September. On 18 April, when Yegorshinskaya miners were paid for February and partly for January, four of the strikers left the mine to pass the money to their families and then returned. However, the other five participants refused to receive a share of the money and demanded the debt be paid in full. The senior engineer of the mine, Vladimir Mezentsev, said this is impossible at the moment.

Skinheads Beat Jewish Teenager In Ulyanovsk
Skinheads beat a Jewish boy in Ulyanovsk on 20 April, Rosbalt reported on 23 April citing the press service of the Ulyanovsk Oblast Interior Board. The boy was hospitalized with a concussion. The same day, skinheads covered the walls of the building of Ulyanovsk's Jewish community, Shalom, with anti-Semitic graffiti. The head of the community, Mikhail Livshits, appealed to Ulyanovsk police to protect Jews living in Ulyanovsk from skinhead attacks.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova