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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 5, 2004

5 April 2004
Tatar Parliament Uses Chechen Constitution To Defend Its Own
A recent ruling of the Tatar Supreme Court, which annulled the constitutional provisions concerning Tatarstan's sovereignty and the requirement for presidential candidates to speak both of the republic's state languages, Tatar and Russian, will be disputed by Tatar legislators and federal prosecutors, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today citing Tatar State Council representative Vasilii Loginov. On 31 March, the Supreme Court partially upheld the suit of the republic's chief prosecutor Kafil Amirov, who argued that, as a territorial entity of the Russian Federation, it is illegal for Tatarstan to declare its sovereignty and to "violate the rights of Russian citizens" by requiring the knowledge of Tatar and Russian to run for the republic's presidency.

During the trial, representatives of the Tatar parliament presented a resolution of the Strasbourg-based European Commission for Democracy Through Law confirming the legality of the Chechen Constitution, which enshrines the republic's sovereignty. The judge, however, refused to accept the text as an official document, as it was an unofficial translation of an original document published in English on the Internet. Federal prosecutors from the State Council will seek assistance from the Russian Foreign Ministry for obtaining an official version of the resolution. According to Russian law, the 31 March Supreme Court ruling is to be put into force within six months.

State Council Speaker Admits Use Of Administrative Pressure During Recent Election Campaign
Speaking at a conference of Unified Russia party activists on 3 April, Farid Mukhametshin, the State Council chairman and secretary of the party's political council in Tatarstan, said that "excessive persistence of some of the [republican] officials" demanding active support for the pro-governmental party during the March parliamentary election campaign represented "unacceptable methods" and turned voters away, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Former Traffic Official Suspected In Sibai Prosecutor's Slaying
Several suspects in the killing of Sibai prosecutor Khenif Qarachurin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 and 29 December 2003) have been detained, including the former head of the Sibai Raion's traffic-inspection department, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 2 April. Bashkortostan's acting prosecutor, Mikhail Zelepukin, said the former traffic official is believed to have contracted Qarachurin's murder. Qarachurin was shot to death in his Sibai apartment in late December.

Prosecutors Report Violations In Bashkortostan's Interior Bodies
Bashkir prosecutors addressed two documents to Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev in March alleging that employees of the republican Interior Ministry and the Beloretsk Raion broke the law, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 2 April. The documents list torture and physical violence against suspects, involvement in narcotics trafficking, and bribe taking among the alleged improprieties.

Some 124 criminal cases were filed against law-enforcement officials in 2003, 58 of which have been turned over to the courts. Twenty-five more investigations have been opened this year, most of which involve suspected abuses of power, cover-ups, or bribes. The Federal Interior Ministry is currently probing Bashkortostan's law-enforcement authorities for wrongdoing.

Bashkir President Lauds Fradkov's Administrative Reform
A virtual army of bureaucrats presents a serious obstacle to progress for Russian society, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 2 April, according to RosBalt. Rakhimov was commenting on an initiative by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to reduce bureaucratic staff. The previous day, the Russian prime minister said staff reductions in the public sector will be continued at the regional and municipal levels. "An understanding of this issue had always existed in Bashkortostan," Rakhimov said. He asserted that in 2002, there were seven officials for every 1,000 republican citizens, one of the lowest rates in Russia. Rakhimov also said he ordered preparations to be made for further staff reductions within the republican government and the presidential staff. The Bashkir president claimed reforms were delayed by the recent government reshuffle orchestrated by President Putin.

Turkish Consul-General Visits Bashkortostan
Meeting with Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov on 2 April, visiting Turkish Consul-General in Kazan Ismail Haqqy Musa said a draft contract on mutual cooperation in light industry has been prepared and is ready for signing, RosBalt reported. Musa said the success of Turkish companies in Bashkortostan is a result of intense effort on the part of Bashkortostan's leadership. Baidavletov said 63 companies with Turkish capital operate in the republic. The sides also have agreed on the opening of official representation of Bashkortostan in Istanbul. Bilateral trade turnover totaled $59 million in 2003.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova