17 July 2002, Volume 2, Number 23
ON THE RUSSIAN-CHINESE BORDER."If a commission comes to our construction site, it is to have a friendly conversation, whereas if they come to a Chinese [site], it is to find something, to take something from them, I think. That is why the Chinese have these controllers showing up every day. I know that someone shows up practically every day -- either gas people come or design people come, and it happens every day. That is why I think Chinese construction work is of much higher quality than say that of their Russian counterparts. I remember there was a case with 'superconstruction,' when a design manager came and said that the brickwork was done badly. 'You show me where it's done badly and we will dismantle the whole floor and will lay it anew.' Whereas our construction workers would say, 'We'll shell out some for you, and let's forget about it.' The Chinese build faster, better, and more beautiful." -- Vladimir Klishin, entrepreneur.
"If the Chinese have money, if they want to invest and make a profit, let them -- but they need to hire our people. Why is it that our people are on the labor market and are getting all kinds of subsidies for kids and so forth, but cannot earn money themselves? Give them work!" -- Vladimir Derevyanko, director, Blagoveshchenskstroi.
"Nobody will engage in training specialists in the construction field. Why? Because there is cheap labor force from China. In Russia there are no young specialists of such professions as carpenters, bricklayers, trimmers -- their average age is 40-45. And in 10 years they will be extinct, and [their work] will be transferred to migrants completely." -- Aleksandr Senkov, director, Amurstroi.
From an RFE/RL correspondent in Blagoveshchensk, a city bordering China in the Russian Far East, broadcast on "Korrespondentskii chas" on 6 July 2002 (translated by Maria Danilova).
PAN REGIONAL ISSUES
PUTIN LOOKS FOR ANOTHER WAY TO DISMISS REGIONAL LEADERS...During a visit to Saransk on 8 July to attend a meeting of governors and officials from the Volga Federal District to discuss regional social and economic development, President Vladimir Putin called for drawing up a legal mechanism under which federal authorities could dismiss local officials who have failed to prevent crises, Russian news agencies reported. As justification for such a law, Putin cited the continuing energy crisis in Ulyanovsk. However, he noted that the people who are responsible for the current crisis there are no longer around (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). He insisted that there should be a scheme for federal control of emergency or force majeure situations, ITAR-TASS reported. The federal center already has two grounds for dismissing regional leaders: if they commit a serious crime or if they fail to enforce a federal law, "Kommersant-Daily" commented on 9 July. JAC
...CALLS FOR 'EXPLOITING' TENSIONS BETWEEN MAYORS, GOVERNORS.Putin also commented on the relationship between his presidential envoys to the seven federal districts and local leaders, saying, "I know we have quite a few problems here." He acknowledged, too, that the problem of demarcating the responsibilities of various levels of government has not yet been solved, including issues related to budgetary policy. However, Putin also called for "cleverly exploiting" the differences between regional and municipal officials. JAC
MORE LOCAL OFFICIALS SACKED IN THE SOUTH...In an interview with RTR on 4 July, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that two raion administration heads in Krasnodar Krai have been dismissed, along with two raion administration heads in Stavropol Krai, for their inadequate handling of the aftermath of severe flooding in their regions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 2002). "Now the position of the head of a city is being considered [for dismissal]. I won't say for the time being which city," he added. According to the station, Shoigu also criticized the State Construction and Housing Committee for its slow work in restoring damaged homes. Meanwhile, more people are returning to their homes; The ministry told ITAR-TASS on 7 July that more than 80,000 out of 102,000 local residents evacuated as a result of floods in Russia's Southern Federal District have returned to their homes. As of 14 July, the number of dead from the flooding in the Southern Federal District during the latter half of June had reached 114 people, according to Interfax. JAC
...AS BLAME GAME BEGINS.Meanwhile, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 27 June that, as is often the case with natural disasters, local officials are being blamed. For example, it reported that Krasnodar Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev has dismissed Vasilii Kolykhailo, head of Uspenskii Raion, for being "too slow in dealing with the disaster." In Stavropol, local prosecutor Robert Adelkhanyan told krai legislators that some officials' handling of the disaster requires a legal assessment as to whether criminal charges should be lodged. "Someone has to bear responsibility for the deaths of 51 people [in the krai]," he said. He added that many of the krai's rescue services were not ready to operate in an emergency situation and in some areas lacked the proper equipment. However, the previous day, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, Viktor Kazantsev, told reporters in Rostov-na-Donu that the negative consequences of the flooding were so severe in part because "of a series of disagreements between federal ministries and departments, in particular, the Agriculture Ministry and the Natural Resources Ministry." JAC
MOST GOVERNORS CLEARED FOR THIRD TERMS...The Constitutional Court ruled on 9 July that most governors who are now in office may seek a third and, in some cases, a fourth term, Russian and Western news agencies reported. The court had been asked to rule on the legality of amendments to the law on general principles for organizing legislative and executive organs of power in the subjects of the federation, which was adopted in February 2001, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 July (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 31 January 2001). Under those amendments, the terms of governors or presidents that began before October 1999 -- the date on which the original law came into force -- are not counted under the provision of the law that limits regional leaders to just two terms in office. The court upheld the amendments and, according to the daily, 43 governors will be eligible to seek third consecutive terms as a result; seven will be eligible to seek a third and then possibly a fourth term; while six governors currently serving their third term will be able to seek a fourth. According to smi.ru, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov and Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov are now eligible for up to two more terms of office. Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who will be able to seek a third term, called the ruling "logical" and "rational," according to ITAR-TASS. JAC
...AS COURT RULING LINKED WITH UPCOMING ELECTIONS.Most Russian newspapers interpreted the Constitutional Court's ruling as a kind of capitulation to regional leaders by the Kremlin. Andrei Ryabov of the Carnegie Moscow Center was quoted by "Izvestiya" on 10 July as saying that the center is "changing its policy on the eve of elections" as it returns "administrative resources" to the governors. "Regional leaders should understand that they will have to be loyal to the federal center in the future in exchange for this decision," he continued. "Vremya novostei" also commented that the 2004 presidential elections were a key reason behind the "Kremlin's indulgence," claiming that the "administration thinks that Putin must win this election with a convincing victory." In addition, "Izvestiya" concluded that in 2006 the question might arise that "if the governors have the right to three terms, why shouldn't the president?" JAC
MUSLIM GRAVES DEFILED IN VOLGOGRAD...Unidentified "hooligans" smashed monuments on Muslim graves in a cemetery in the southern city of Volgograd and defaced them with red swastikas, polit.ru reported on 10 July. They also signed their efforts with the word "skinheads." According to ITAR-TASS on 11 July, this is the third case of graves being desecrated in Volgograd in the past two months. JAC
...JEWISH GRAVES DESTROYED IN ST. PETERSBURG...Earlier in the week, at least 10 Jewish graves were destroyed at the Preobrazhenskii Cemetery in St. Petersburg during construction of a railway line between the Sortirobochnaya Station and the Oktyabrskaya Railroad (OZhD), cemetery Director Valentina Sidorova told Interfax on 8 July, according to ntvru.com. According to the site, a similar incident took place in January 2001, when 12 graves at the cemetery were destroyed. JAC
...SHOT FIRED AT IRKUTSK MOSQUE...An unknown gunman fired into a mosque in the Siberian city of Irkutsk during a service on 11 July, Russian and Western news agencies reported. None of the 10 people in the mosque at the time were injured. According to AP, a single shot was fired, breaking a glass plate in the door to the mosque. Police determined that the gunman fired from the attic of a five-story building across the street from the mosque and speculated that the incident had been planned in advance, according to lenta.ru. RC
...AS FEDERAL INTERIOR MINISTRY OFFICIAL WARNS HIS COLLEAGUES TO TAKE SUCH INCIDENTS MORE SERIOUSLY.Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliev told Ren-TV after an 11 July meeting with members of Russia's religious denominations that some regional officials are taking incidents such as the desecration of graves "too lightly, and are tending to describe them as mere childish naughtiness or hooliganism." Vasiliev declared, "These crimes must receive adequate treatment from the very beginning so that they do not grow into more serious ones." Also on 11 July, Oleg Knaus, deputy head of Irkutsk Oblast's department for criminal investigations, said that there is still no information connecting the firing into a local mosque with extremists or nationalists, so the basic theory remains that it was hooliganism, according to Interfax-Eurasia. JAC
MIRONOV STUMPS FOR REGIONAL MERGERS...Following a visit by Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko to both Perm and Kudymkar, Perm Governor Yurii Trutnev told reporters on 5 July that "for the first time in Russia, the process of merging two territories has been launched," "Izvestiya" reported on 5 July. According to the daily, Mironov traveled to the region to promote the merger of Perm Oblast with the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug, whose capital is Kudymkar. Trutnev, Mironov, and Kirienko met with okrug Governor Gennadii Savelev, who is reportedly not opposed to a closer association between the oblast and okrug but wants to preserve the autonomy of the Komi-Permyak peoples. Oganes Oganyan, a representative of the okrug in the Federation Council, told the daily that the upper legislative chamber "is ready to act as a guarantor...of the interests of the united territories and the people living there." He added that he thinks that in the "near future the Federation Council will adopt a special resolution on the question of merging the okrug and oblast." JAC
...AS KOZAK HINTS AT REDRAWING CITY AND VILLAGE BOUNDARIES.Dmitrii Kozak, deputy head of the presidential administration and head of the presidential commission on demarcating responsibilities between various levels of government, said on 11 July that he does not exclude the possibility of changes in the administrative-territorial division of several regions in the federation within the framework of local self-government reforms, Interfax-Northwest reported. According to Kozak, such changes would be connected with the commission's desire to "enlarge several rural and urban populations." In his opinion, rural villages and other formations with fewer than 1,000 people could be merged. He added that such changes could start in 2003 after the introduction of the law on the organization of local self-rule in Russia. JAC
REPUBLIC KEEPS WORKING ON CONSTITUTION.Bashkortostan's Constitutional Commission has chosen to use the U.S. Constitution as its model, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 12 July citing "Ekspert-Ural." Bashkir authorities will try to develop a new constitution that will meet the requirements of federal authorities and that will also maintain the key provisions of the republic's previous constitution. According to the weekly, the principle of the superiority of Bashkir legislation to federal law will be removed; however, the provision stating that the republic is a sovereign state within the Russian Federation will be retained. Bashkir authorities have been forced to make amendments to the constitution for the second time in the last 18 months as a result of rulings by federal courts that have annulled a number of the document's articles (see End Note below). Meanwhile, Aleksandr Bespalov, chairman of Unified Russia's General Council, announced on 2 July that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov has reached agreement with President Putin and will run for a third term in office, the Kazan-based "Zvezda povolzhya" reported, according to the bureau. JAC
SENATORS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR KRAI AUTHORITIES.Federation Council members adopted on 10 July a special resolution on the migration situation in Krasnodar Krai, Interfax reported. According to the agency, the resolution notes the large number of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the krai and laments the "unjustified delay in repatriating [Meskhetians], who are living temporarily in the Russian Federation, back to Georgia." The members also called on the government to adopt this fall a draft law on state regulation of migration to the Russian Federation that would establish quotas limiting the number of migrants in regions and create the possibility of a temporary resettlement of separate categories of citizens, foreigners, and persons without citizenship out of regions plagued by conflict. A group of Meskhetians in the krai recently ended a hunger strike in protest of their status in the region (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). Given a choice, at least some of them would prefer to emigrate to Turkey, rather than settle in Georgia. JAC
OLIGARCH/GOVERNOR SLATED FOR TRANSFER?Moscow-based political analysts believe that Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Khloponin has the best chance of victory in the 8 September gubernatorial elections in Krasnoyarsk Krai, RIA-Novosti reported on 10 July. Sergei Kolmakov, vice president of the Fund for the Development of Parliamentarism, drew attention the fact that Khloponin gathered 60,000 signatures in support of his candidacy quickly, indicating his ability to "mobilize the electorate." Khloponin was the first of the 28 people expressing a desire to run to register officially. Igor Bunin, director of the Center for Political Technology, also said that Khloponin has the best chance of the three main contenders in the race, the other two being Aleksandr Uss, chairman of Krasnoyarsk Krai's legislature, and Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr Pimashkov. Uss's campaign is being financed by Russian Aluminum, according to RFE/RL's Krasnoyarsk correspondent on 20 June, while Khloponin is the former general director of Norilsk Nickel. Last month, Uss's approval rating was estimated at 30 percent, compared with only 14 percent for Khloponin. JAC
SOUTHERN UTILITY IGNORES PUTIN, KASYANOV WARNINGS.TV-6 reported on 10 July that energy prices will rise by 5 percent in some parts of the Southern Federal District by the end of the summer despite recent statements by the president and prime minister that such increases are immoral. Utility officials at Stavropolenergo claim the increases are unavoidable, not only because they have had to pay for the restoration of the energy networks in the south, but also because of outstanding unpaid debts. Last month, President Putin criticized Unified Energy Systems (EES) for proposing raising tariffs for customers in order to pay for restoration work in the area. According to Putin, neither the Railways Ministry nor Gazprom, which are both faced with similar reconstruction challenges, has proposed a hike in rates. And, on 5 July, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov echoed Putin's warnings that Russia's natural monopolies should not raising their rates to cover their extra expenditures to repair infrastructure. JAC
PUTIN BLAMES FORMER LEADERSHIP FOR PROBLEMS IN REGION.During a visit to Ulyanovsk on 7 July, President Putin criticized local leaders for the poor state of city utilities, Russian agencies reported. "The rate of the growth of tariffs for housing, electricity, and heat has risen by between 7 1/2 and 11 times more than in the country as a whole. This is what they call shock therapy. Unfortunately, it is the result of the neglect of the oblast leadership in past years," Putin said, adding that "as usual, the guilty are nowhere to be found." However, Putin also criticized current officials, noting that while the number of city officials working only on the problems of public utilities has increased to 15,000 people, their effectiveness has not been high, according to Interfax. The oblast's current governor, Vladimir Shamanov, a former military commander in Chechnya, was supported by the Kremlin during his effort to unseat the previous Communist governor, Yurii Goryachev, who had kept prices on a variety of goods and services capped (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 2000 and 16 February 2001). JAC
COMINGS & GOINGSIN: President Putin signed a decree naming State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman Dmitrii Rogozin (People's Deputy) as his special envoy for the problems of Kaliningrad in light of the EU's pending expansion, Russian agencies reported on 13 July.
IN: Ella Pamfilova has been appointed to head the presidential Human Rights Commission, replacing Vladimir Kartashin, Russian agencies reported on 12 July. Pamfilova formerly headed the Civil Dignity movement.
IN: Colonel General Vladislav Putilin was named deputy minister of economic trade and development, Russian agencies reported on 11 July. Putilin is a former deputy head of the Armed Forces' General Staff and head of the Main Organization and Mobilization Directorate, according to Ekho Moskvy.
IN: The Federation Council confirmed on 10 July the appointment of General Aleksandr Savenkov as chief military prosecutor. Savenkov previously worked in the office of the military prosecutor. He replaces Mikhail Kislitsyn.
IN: Valerii Gazzaev has been named coach of Russia's national soccer team, Russian agencies reported on 8 July. He is current coach of the TsSKA football club. He will replace Oleg Romantsev, who was heavily criticized for the Russian team's performance during this year's World Cup.
OUT: Prime Minister Kasyanov signed a decree on 12 July dismissing Yurii Kukuev as first deputy minister of natural resources and Aleksandr Beloysov as deputy minister of natural resources. According to polit.ru on 12 July, Kukuev, who had headed the timber branch, has been transferred to other work. The previous day, Ivan Glumov was reappointed deputy natural resources minister for the period up to 30 June 2003.
POLITICAL CALENDAR18-21 July: South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to visit Russia
19-20 July: French President Jacques Chirac to meet with President Putin in Sochi
23 July: Russian Foreign Ministry and EU officials will meet in Brussels to discuss the Kaliningrad problem
30 July: State Council will meet to discuss state youth policy up to the year 2012, according to ITAR-TASS on 17 June
30-31 July: International conference on the struggle against terrorism in the Asian-Pacific region to be held in Vladivostok
31 July: Date by which licenses issued to U.S. importers of poultry by Russian Agriculture Ministry's Veterinary Department expire
31 July: A three-sided discussion with officials from the government, State Duma, and Federation Council will be held to discuss reform of interbudgetary relations and the distribution of tax revenue between the federal center and regions
31 July: A Moscow court will reconsider the criminal case against former Sibur President Yakov Goldovskii and his former deputy Yevgenii Koshchits
1-15 August: International Kansk video festival will take place in Kansk, Krasnoyarsk Krai
1 August: Russia's first full-scale facility for the destruction of chemical weapons will be launched in Gornyi in Saratov Oblast, according to presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko
8-10 August: Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov will visit Krasnoyarsk to check preparations for upcoming election
12 August: Second anniversary of the sinking of the "Kursk" submarine
15 August: Government to approve draft 2003 budget at cabinet meeting, according to Prime Minister Kasyanov on 11 July
26 August: Government will submit a draft 2003 budget to the State Duma, according to Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin on 6 June
September: Dalai Lama will visit the republics of Buryatia, Tuva, and Kalmykia, according to Kalmykia President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on 11 June
September: Symposium and investment fair for atomic-power plants to take place in Vladivostok
1 September: Deadline by which heads of regional branches of the Union of Rightist Forces must submit names of candidates for single-mandate districts in the 2003 State Duma elections, according to regions.ru
8 September: Gubernatorial elections in Krasnoyarsk
10-11 September: The fourth annual conference of the regional administrations of countries in Northeast Asia will take place in Khabarovsk
14-23 September: The World Association of Female Entrepreneurs will hold its 50th international congress in St. Petersburg
15 September: Mayoral elections will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod
15 September: Government will submit to the Duma amendments to the law on Russian as a state language
18 September: First plenary meeting of State Duma's fall session
26-27 September: Association of Election Organizers from the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe will hold a special conference in Moscow, according to "Izvestiya" on 17 June
29 September: By-election in single-mandate district in Omsk Oblast for State Duma seat formerly occupied by Aleksandr Vereteno, who died in April
7 October: CIS summit to be held in Chisinau, Moldova, according to Interfax on 13 May
20 October: By-election in single-mandate district in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug for State Duma seat once occupied by Aleksandr Lotorev, who now directs the Duma's apparatus.
26-27 October: Putin to attend APEC summit in Los Cabos, Mexico
14 November: Meeting of united political council of Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko scheduled.
END NOTEPOLITICAL PALIMPSESTS: REFORM OF REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTIONS
By Jeffrey Kahn
As part of the campaign that he launched almost as soon as he became president to strengthen the vertical of executive power, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded the conformity of regional constitutions and laws with federal laws. This was, by any comparison with other federal systems, an eminently reasonable demand. The Russian Federal Constitution expressed the supremacy of federal law over the laws of constituent units of the federation. In this sphere, Putin was battling not Soviet legacies, but the legacy of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin. Beginning with his campaign for political advantage over Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin relied on a rhetoric of sovereignty and autonomy ill-suited for the federal system he was attempting to craft. Regional politicians seized on this vocabulary when Yeltsin urged them to "take all the sovereignty you can swallow," and found themselves unwilling to drop such habits of thought when Yeltsin sought to reassert federal control.
Putin's reforms aimed to undo this legacy. The Federation Council reform deprived regional political elites of seats and voices in the federal capital. That reform also deprived regional executives and heads of legislatures of their senatorial immunity, thereby giving the second reform -- federal power to dissolve and dismiss wayward legislatures and executives -- that much more sting. The third reform established the same power over local self-government. Faced with rising tallies of regional constitutions, charters, laws, and decrees that violated federal law, Putin's reforms laid a new foundation on which to command compliance -- which his new presidential envoys could confirm and, if need be, compel.
The post-Soviet researcher now has an extraordinary collection of public documents available for analysis. A burst of constitutional reform resulted in the regions, and especially in the republics, where violations were the most frequent and flagrant. The rush to reform generated a tremendous amount of legislative activity for comparison and analysis. In some cases, three sets of constitutions could be compared: Soviet-, Yeltsin-, and Putin-era legal documents, exposing the frameworks and follies of a decade of constitution making. Republican reaction to Putin's threatening reforms produced constitutional palimpsests: documents that have been written, imperfectly erased, and written over again, with the result that the original work often remains visible underneath more recent revisions. One example from the rebellious republic of Bashkortostan is briefly examined below.
The Constitutions of the Republic of Bashkortostan
As the history of Russia's federal development demonstrates, Bashkortostan has been a thorn in the side of federal officials from the very beginning. Bashkortostan was one of the first republics to declare sovereignty in 1990. In 1992, Bashkortostan used the added pressure on federal authorities created by Tatarstan's refusal to sign the Federation Treaty to win for itself an 11th-hour, special appendix of privileges and exceptions. Bashkortostan, again profiting from the tension Tatarstan injected into federal politics, negotiated one of the earliest bilateral treaties, winning for itself considerable promises of autonomy. Emboldened by such victories, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov continued to press his hand, building a personal autocracy at the base of the Ural Mountains, placing family and friends at the head of key republican industries and political institutions, and defying federal authority with increasing flagrancy.
Demands by the new federal president and the presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, to reform were met first by stubborn refusal. Following a Constitutional Court determination that the republic's constitution violated federal law, Rakhimov grumbled that the determination was a political, not a legal act; his republic's chief justice quibbled with the procedures of the federal court. Using the 10-year anniversary celebrations in October 2000 of Bashkortostan's declaration of sovereignty as a platform, Rakhimov criticized the federal government, explaining that republican laws had resolved urgent problems in the republic that Moscow had been too slow or timid to confront.
Bashkortostan's new preamble set the tone for the confrontational document it introduced. In many ways, the new version, which was approved by the legislature and signed by the president on 3 November 2000, is even more forceful than the old. Nothing was removed from the first preamble, but much was added. The 1993 constitution explicitly referred to the republican referendum to confirm the "treaty character" of the republic's relations with Moscow. This reference was not to a bilateral treaty, which was not signed until August 1994, but to the 1992 Federation Treaty. That document had just been superceded by the federal constitution adopted 12 days before the Bashkir Constitution, on 12 December 1993. Bashkir elites, like many of their republican peers, were furious that the much more republican-friendly treaty had essentially been made null and void by Yeltsin's constitution. The Russian Federation Constitution was not even acknowledged in the republican preamble. The new preamble goes much further. Not only is the referendum mentioned, but the treaty basis for Bashkir-Russian relations is traced back to the 16th century! Explicit reference is made not only to the republic's declaration of sovereignty (a feature of the old preamble), but to the "generally recognized" principle of self-determination of peoples in the Russian Federation. The 1994 bilateral treaty is explicitly mentioned by its lengthy formal title, while reference to the federal constitution is conspicuous by its continued absence.
The "treaty character" of relations is the underlying theme woven into virtually every part of the new constitution. Perhaps the most radical change between the two documents is the insertion of the complete text of the republic's bilateral treaty into the fundamental law of Bashkortostan, confusingly preceding Section 1 of the constitution, on the "Fundamentals of the Constitutional Order." This is an extraordinary addition to the constitution! By virtue of the approval of the republican constitution by the Bashkir legislature, Bashkortostan's treaty would appear to enjoy a status no other bilateral treaty to date enjoys -- formal legislative approval. The bilateral treaty is now elevated (at least in the eyes of republican authorities) to the level of constitutional law.
The republic's struggle between concessions to federal authority and assertions of its own autonomy continued in the "first" (after the reproduced treaty) section of the constitution, "Fundamentals of the Constitutional Order." Bashkortostan edited some, but not all, of its assertions of sovereignty from the text. In Article 1, defining the state, the draftsmen of the new edition cling to the word "sovereignty," but remove it from its lead position, tacking on to the first clause the formulaic phrase used in most other republican constitutions to denote membership in the Russian Federation. Sovereignty is similarly abridged in the assertion of jurisdictional competence and policy making. While the republic's authority to conduct its own foreign policy is conspicuously deleted from the new text, a lengthy description of the republic's adherence to international legal principles is clumsily added to the section. Again asserting the "inalienable right to self-determination," the addition of Article 16 seems as much an assertion of the republic's interest in participation in the community of sovereign states as it is an announcement to federal authorities of republican expectations for these principles to govern their relations. Articles 16, 17, and 18 (on defense and conscription) seem crafted to limit the effect of the deletion of identical articles in the old Chapter VII, "The Republic of Bashkortostan -- a Sovereign State," as well as the deletion of other articles covering treaty relations, principles of budget negotiations, and international relations.
The creation of special rights to citizenship in some republics presents particular problems for federalism as well as democracy in the Russian Federation. Dualist conceptions of distinctive rights of citizenship (as opposed to mere residency) in select parts of a federation threaten the existence of a unified legal and economic space that is a prime advantage of federal governance. When this citizenship is predicated on ethnic or other particular qualities, additional problems may be presented for rights of franchise and social entitlements from the state. Bashkortostan is one of the republics that issued its own citizenship early in the development of its republican institutions. Along with Tatarstan, it has engaged in a long-running battle with federal authorities over the issuance of multiple foreign passports or, alternatively, inserts in the official languages of the republics noting dual citizenship, federal and republican.
The new edition of the constitution leaves open the possibility of republican citizenship (Article 4, Article 25) but states categorically that all citizens of the Russian Federation enjoy the full protection and benefits of federal and republican constitutions in Bashkortostan (Article 24). Those articles guaranteeing civil and political rights that formerly began with the phrase "Citizens of the Republic of Bashkortostan have the right" are now revised to imply that such rights are available to all people in the republic, regardless of Bashkir (or even, arguably, federal) citizenship.
One month after the adoption of these provisions, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Bashkir President Rakhimov, and presidential envoy of the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko hammered out an agreement on the matter, ending a three-year suspension by the republics of the issuance of new federal passports. In keeping with the ambivalence of the new constitution, the agreement permits the insertion of supplemental pages giving the bearer's data in Bashkir or Tatar (though it remains unclear whether these data will include nationality). Whether or not these supplements constitute the physical manifestation of republican citizenship is equally unclear, though in combination with the above constitutional provisions, they were evidently satisfactory enough to the two famously stubborn republican leaders.
Perhaps the most vexing characteristic of federal-Bashkir relations, disregard for the supremacy of federal laws, is not resolved by the new Bashkir Constitution. "In the event of a contradiction," reads the final clause of Article 117 on the hierarchy of laws in the republic, "between a law of the Republic of Bashkortostan, accepted in conformity with part two of the present article, and federal law [i.e. either on subjects of republic jurisdiction or subjects of republic authority in areas of joint jurisdiction between the federation and the republic], the law of the Republic of Bashkortostan has effect." There seems to be little change from the categorical assertion of the previous constitution that laws of the republic "possess supremacy" on the entire territory of the republic (Article 128, 1993 constitution).
These and other revisions of the Bashkir Constitution met with a mixed reaction by federal authorities. Shortly after its adoption, presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko made his first trip to Bashkortostan, to participate in the 10th anniversary celebrations of the republic's declaration of sovereignty. In a sudden spurt of activity, Kirienko and Russian Minister of Justice Yurii Chaika balanced criticism of the Bashkir legal order (still one of the most egregious violators of federal legislation) with the appointment of a former republican minister as federal inspector for the republic, and the agreed abolition of the republican Ministry of Justice, clearing the way for a branch of the federal ministry to oversee legislation, a function it lost in the mid-1990s when Bashkortostan stopped sending draft legislation to Moscow for analysis. Nevertheless, just two months later, Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, the deputy prosecutor-general for the Volga Federal District, perhaps responding to the accusations of "professional idiocy" laid at the feet of federal authorities by the head of the republic presidential analytic department, Amir Yuldashbaev, declared the Bashkir Constitution still to be in violation of federal law.
While the Republic of Bashkortostan had removed the most glaring violations of the federal constitution from its constitution, it retained the more problematic features, and in some cases, added additional ones to the new version. It had seized the opportunity to turn nonfeasance into malfeasance.
This piece is adapted from Kahn's new book, "Federalism, Democratization, and the Rule of Law in Russia," which was published by Oxford University Press in June.