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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 17, 2000

17 August 2000
Explosive Materials Founds In Chechen Students' Dormitory Room

13 August

Four students from Chechnya were arrested by the anti-organized crime unit for possession of explosive materials in a dormitory in Kazan on 13 August, Tatar media reported. About four hundred grams of explosives, a detonator, and 740 millimeters of inflammable cord were found in a room where the students lived. It was reported that the walls of the room were decorated with flags of Ichkeria and portraits of Johar Dudaev. The volume of explosives is comparable with that of the bomb detonated earlier this month in Moscow Pushkin Square where 300-500 grams of explosive were used. The Chechen students were in their fourth year in Kazan under the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty between Tatarstan and Ichkeria signed in May, 1997. They reportedly were excellent students and very positively evaluated by their teachers. They denied the accusation that they had stored explosives and refused to testify without a barrister. (The Treaty between Tatarstan and Ichkeria ended in January when the Chechnya permanent representation in Kazan was denied further legal registration status, but no measures were taken against Chechens in the republic).

TPC Calls On Tatarstan Parliament To Denouce Bilateral Treaty Between Kazan And Moscow

10-16 August

Tatarstan's nationalist opposition organization, the Tatar Public Center (TPC), called on the Tatarstan State Council to restore the republic's independence and to structure its relations with Russia and other sovereign states on the basis of equal bilateral treaties. The independent weekly, "Zvezda Povolzhya," on 10-16 August, printed a TPC document stating that Russian legal authorities had adopted political-legislative aggression against a sovereign state, by insisting that the Tatarstan Constitution be brought into harmony with the non-legitimate Russian Federation Constitution which was not accepted by the republic's people. Therefore, the TPC holds that the Tatarstan State Council should not recognize the Russian Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the main principles of Tatarstan state sovereignty as lacking juridical force. The TPC document also states that according to the [Tatarstan] Constitution, all branches of authority should defend and strengthen state sovereignty and not allow it to be infringed or denied in favor of any other state or union of states with federative or confederative status. TPC proposed that the State Council adopt a decision to restore Tatarstan's state independence, declared in August, 1990. Then the republic should conclude bilateral treaties with Russia and other sovereign states and appeal to parliaments of Volga/Ural region national republics suggesting them to unite into confederation.

Journalists' Leader: Sovereignty Constituted An Advance For Journalism In Tatarstan

10-16 August

Rimma Ratnikova, chairman of the Tatarstan Journalists' Union, told the weekly, "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 10-16 August that sovereignty represented a major advance for Tatarstan's journalism. "That is why," she said, "I was greatly injured by the Russian Constitutional Coourt ruling a month ago which seemed to abolish Tatarstan's sovereignty. Ratnikova said, "We name our native land 'Motherland,' but what can we call Russia? Even a stepmother does not treat her adopted children as insultingly as Russian official organizations have treated us." Ratnikova said that a joint plenum of architects, cinematographysts, writers, artists, journalists, and composers for the sovereignty anniversary is being currently prepared. She said that sovereignty has been very beneficial for the development of culture in the republic.

Commenting on relations between the Journalists' Unions of Tatarstan and Russia, Ratnikova said that the republican union did not join the Russian Journalists' Union, but in 1995 signed an agreement similar to the bilateral treaty between Kazan and Moscow, and so became an associate member in the Russian Journalists' Union. Ratnikova added that in early 90s, the Tatarstan Journalists' Union became a member of the International Confederation of Journalists' Unions, the successor of the Soviet Journalists' Union, with equal status to the Russian Journalists Union.

Minority Representatives Discuss Tatarstan's Sovereignty

12 August

Sagit Dzhaksybaev, President of the Association of National-cultural Organizations (ANKO), said on 11 August that Tatarstan serves as a model for the resolution of interethnic problems; it is the most successful experience in Russia to attain interethnic peace and consent. Dzhaksybaev made his comments at a seminar titled "Ethno-cultural Movement and Sovereignty," organized by ANKO, the daily, "Respublika Tatarstan," reported on 12 August. In his opinion, the principal feature of Tatarstan's model is that the republic has no state body such as the Nationalities Ministry. All work is performed by public organizations which cooperate with authority bodies. He said popular diplomacy and the personal contacts of national diasporas help to expand Tatarstan's official connections. Dzhaksybaev said the second main point is the creation of ANKO, which unites 100 cultural communities of various nationalities living in the republic, including 24 in Kazan. He said that ANKO, created at the first congress of Tatarstan's peoples in 1992 permits coordination of Tatarstan's ethnic minorites joint efforts and, by acting unanimously, to be more successful. Dzhaksybaev noted that republican ethnocultural movements face difficult problems in relations with immigrants from CIS countries with local interior bodies. He said ANKO and Tatarstan Interior Ministry had recently signed an agreement on joint activity concerning the issue.

Kazan Electric Trains May Soon Lack Power

16 August

Electric trains of the Kazan department of the Gorky railway may have electricity switched off, the daily, "Vechernyaya Kazan," reported on 16 August. The newspaper cited an order by the head of Tatarstan's Energosbyt company, Rim Galiakhmetov, demanding a limit on the power supply for railways. The measure was reportedly initiated by Anatoly Chubais, the head of Russian electricity grid the United Energy Systems, who ordered the Communication Means Ministry on 30 June to pay for consumed energy only with cash. The Gorky railway owes Tatarstan s energy suppliers 66 million rubles, of which five million is owed by the railway's Kazan department.

Communists Appeal Against Duma Election Results

11 August

Mansur Galiev, a former Tatarstan Communist Party (KPRT) candidate for the State Duma, appealed to the Supreme Court Board of the Russian Federation asking it to invalidate the results of the December Duma election in the one-mandate Elmet electoral okrug, Tatar-inform reported on 11 August. GAliyev accused his successful competitor, Fandas Safiullin, and the administration head of Leninogorsk of bribing the electorate. Robert Sadykov, KPRT Deputy First Secretary, was quoted as saying that on the eve of the election, voters were given envelopes with 100 rubles, along with a request to vote for Safiullin. Tatarstan's Courts at all levels refused to satisfy GAliyev s complaint. The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on 1 August acknowledged bribery, but refused to nullify election results. The Court argued that even if the votes given for Safiullin in Leninogorsk were excluded from the protocol those given in his favor in other districts of the Elmet electoral okrug were enough for him to become Duma deputy. Galiev reportedly intends to appeal to the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg if the Russian Supreme Court Board does not declare the election results invalid.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova