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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 14, 2004

14 September 2004
Tatar President Backs Putin's Proposed Reforms, Goes One Step Further...
Commenting on the political reforms unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 13 September, Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev told a news conference in Moscow the same day that "Russia remains federal and democratic state" and "everything will be done within the framework of the current constitution." Shaimiev said legislation introducing the election of Russia's regional leaders by local parliaments based on proposals by the Russian Federation's president will be developed by the end of the year. He added that the measures can be carried out without amending the Russian Constitution. Shaimiev said local legislation, including on the election of Tatarstan's president, will have to be amended. Shaimiev claimed that in some regions -- including the Caucasus republics -- it is difficult to hold elections of heads of regions for many reasons.

The weakening of the roles of regional heads that has taken place in the past has not always been justified, Shaimiev said. Individuals have risen to power in some regions whose financial backing is of dubious origin, he added. Shaimiev also said those who are unable to govern come to power through populist slogans.

Shaimiev also suggested that the influence of state authorities should be increased in local self-government during the transition period. "But in the future, we will use the experience of civilized countries," he added.

...As Republican Politicians Oppose The Attempt
Asked by "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" if he has bid farewell to democracy following the presentation by President Putin of a package of antiterrorist measures, the chairman of the State Council's Economy, Investments, and Entrepreneurship Commission, Marat Galiev, said, "It is unclear how this is related to fighting terrorism. This is only ground for the establishment of a unified state. We bade farewell long ago to democracy, since federalism is its part. I think supreme federal authorities are not ready for democracy."

Tatar Public Center Chairman Reshit Jegeferov said: "The central authority does not need the voice of people. A majority of Tatars will be dissatisfied with such innovations, and fermentation will set in. We of course strive toward democracy in our souls, but it seems that we should say goodbye to democracy."

Prime Minister Visits Vietnam, Promotes KamAZ
The first consignment of KamAZ trucks was assembled at the Vietnamese Kamfa automotive plant owned by the national coal corporation Vinacoal, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 14 September. A Tatar delegation headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov began a visit to Vietnam on 13 September, reported the same day. The delegation's schedule includes participation in the launch of KamAZ's first assembly line in Vietnam, meetings with the Vietnamese deputy prime minister, the industry minister, the trade minister, and national defense minister, and negotiations with Vinacoal executives. In the first six months of 2004, bilateral trade turnover between Tatarstan and Vietnam grew by 22 percent year-o-year to some $8 million.

In the past 3 1/2 years, the republic has sold $73 million worth of KamAZ trucks (roughly 3,500 units) to Vietnam. In addition to an existing joint venture to produce existing models, KamAZ is seeking to establish a plant to assemble vehicles with the so-called Euro-2 engine, "Vedomosti" reported on 14 September. KamAZ controls 33 percent of Vietnam's truck market.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Politicians Comment On Restructuring Of Political System In Russia
Answering a question from "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 14 September on whether the reforms proposed by President Vladimir Putin on 13 September mean a denial of democracy, Bashkir State Assembly Legislation, State Construction, and Legal Issues Committee Deputy Chairman Fenil Tayepov said: "It is impossible to resolve the issue of security only by appointing the head of a republic, this will only aggravate the situation. Society itself should eradicate terrorism and this can be only achieved if the heads of republics express the will of the people. This is only possible if the head of a republic is elected by the people, not appointed from outside."

Bashkir Communist Party First Secretary Valentin Nikitin said: "These reforms will not result in increasing security. The president appointed ministers and judges, but the judicial and executive powers remained are still corrupt and impotent before the threat of terrorism."

Rostem Ekhmedinurov, the deputy head of Unified Russia in Bashkortostan, said, "We are unlikely to bid farewell to democracy since all legal acts will pass the approval procedure by a public chamber and in the elections of heads of [federation] constituents, all candidates proposed by the Russian president will be approved by legislative bodies in the regions."

Bashkir Women's Union Collects 1 Million Rubles For Beslan Victims
Bashkortostan's Women's Union has collected 1 million rubles ($34,000) to help the victims of the Beslan school siege, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 September. Union Chairwoman and State Assembly deputy Reshide Soltanova said the collection began on 7 September and on 17 September, a delegation of the union will leave for Beslan. North Ossetia's Women's Union has composed a list of families that lost mothers and are the most needy. Each of the 100 families on the list will be paid some 10,000 rubles, Soltanova said.

Supreme Court Chairman's Degree Sparks Controversy
Bashkortostan's Council of Judges has refused to nominate Bashkir Supreme Court Chairman Marat Wekilov for the title of Honorary Lawyer of the Russian Federation, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 11 September. The council is a joint body of the republic's supreme, constitutional, arbitration, and military courts and it recommends court members for honorary degrees. The procedure is usually formal, but this time only four members of the council backed Wekilov's candidacy while 10 voted against. After the Bashkir Supreme Court declared some amendments to the Bashkir Constitution illegal (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 20 March, 15 and 19 April 2002), Wekilov faced allegations of corruption that were then dropped (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 22, 24, 25, 29 April, 6, 23, 27 May, 9 June, and 26 August 2002).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova