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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 28, 2005

28 January 2005
Russia Registers Tatarstan's State Symbols
The state symbols of Tatarstan have been included in the Russian State Heraldic Register,, Tatarinform and Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 27 January. The certificates were given to President Mintimer Shaimiev by Russian Heraldic Council Chairman Georgii Velinbakhov the same day in Kazan. Shaimiev said at the meeting that "God willing, they will remain in [the Russian State Heraldic Register] forever [while the country itself will remain] a united state." Shaimiev said Tatarstan's state symbols were adopted in the most complex period, at the peak of an aggravated political situation. Nevertheless, the republic managed to overcome the difficulties and it always assigned primary importance to the integrity of the Russian state.

Tatarstan To Sell Trucks To U.A.E.
President Shaimiev met on 27 January behind closed doors with a delegation from the United Arab Emirates headed by Land Forces commander Major General Sa'id al-Rumaysi, and Tatarinform reported the same day. Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Khefiz Salikhov told reporters following the talks that the delegation was mainly interested in products of the republic's defense companies. Since arriving in Tatarstan on 23 January, the delegation visited KamAZ, the Yeshel Uzen Gorkii Shipbuilding Plant and POZIS, the Kazan Helicopter Plant, and the Kazan Optical Mechanical Plant. Salikhov added that arms can be sold only through the federal Rosoboroneksport arms-export monopoly. He added, however, that Tatarstan and the U.A.E. have reached an agreement on deliveries of KamAZ trucks.

Political Scientist: Russia's Treaty With Chechnya May Be Bad Example For Republics
The head of the Political Science Department at Kazan State University, professor Midkhet Faruqshin, wrote in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 28 January that signing a bilateral power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Chechnya could result in a burst of separatism in the national republics. Faruqshin said if Chechnya is given the right to manage its natural resources, especially its oil, as it is assumed in the draft treaty, any other Russian entity will be able to demand a similar treaty, based on the principle of equal rights of federation subjects of the Russian Constitution. If the federal authorities agree to that provision in the treaty with Chechnya, what legal arguments will it be able to make against the demand, for example, by Tatarstan to let it manage its oil, Faruqshin asked. Faruqshin also said federal authorities, while saying they stand for the "dictatorship of law," overstep the limits of legal space itself. He argued that the principle of sovereignty of the Chechen Republic fixed in the Chechen Constitution that was passed in the March 2003 referendum contradicts the June 2000 Russian Constitutional Court ruling under which republics in Russia do not have sovereignty. This gave other republics an additional argument in defending their sovereignty, Faruqshin added.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

New Bashkir Ombudsman Elected
The Bashkir State Assembly on 27 January approved the nomination of Fetkhlislam Toqombetov by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to the post of Bashkortostan's human rights representative, Bashinform and RosBalt reported the same day. Toqombetov, 55, was previously the Bashkir deputy interior minister in charge of human resources. In January, he was appointed head of the republic's public council on supervision of observance of human rights by law-enforcement bodies. Toqombetov replaced Chyngyz Gazizov, who resigned after having completed his second term. Under the republican law, one cannot serve more than two terms as an ombudsman. "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 28 January reported, however, that Russian human rights representative Vladimir Lukin during his meeting with President Rakhimov in December expressed his dissatisfaction with Gazizov's work. The nomination of a new ombudsman has been agreed with Lukin, according to the daily.

Parliament Appeals To Federal Authorities Criticizing Social-Benefits Reform
Bashkir State Assembly deputies passed an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, and parliamentary speakers Sergei Mironov and Boris Gryzlov in which they expressed their concern with the implementation of the law on social-benefits reform. The deputies disagreed with the principle of the reform under which World War II labor veterans and victims of political repression receive monetary benefits from the regional government, not the federal one. They noted that in Bashkortostan, it was possible to pay those groups only 200 rubles ($7) a month, while in some Russian entities receiving subsidies from the federal government, those payments are even higher than in donor regions. The Bashkir parliamentarians suggested that those groups of people be paid subsidies from the federal center and compensations paid from federal and regional governments be equalized.

The State Assembly also passed in the first reading amendments annulling the right to free public transportation in Bashkortostan for State Assembly deputies. The measure is intended to save money allocated for financing the legislature.

One In Five Young People Have Tried Illegal Drugs
A survey devoted to youth attitudes toward drug addiction by Bashkortostan's Republican Youth Information Center of 2,301 residents between 12 and 30 years old in 44 cities, towns, and raions in the republic revealed that 21 percent of respondents have tried drugs at least once, Bashinform reported on 26 January. Six percent said they know over 10 drug addicts, with the highest rate of such people in Ufa's Demskii and Kalinin raions and Meleuz Raion. Sixty percent said they do not know any. Almost 63 percent imbibe low-alcohol drinks quite often and 5.2 percent drink beer every day.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova