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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 11, 2004

11 October 2004
Shaimiev Says No Shake-Up Will Occur In Tatarstan
President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 8 October that he does not foresee any changes in Tatarstan as a result of the proposal by President Vladimir Putin to appoint the heads of territorial entities instead of letting voters elect their leaders, reported the same day. Shaimiev said he will take measures to strengthen vertical power, responsibility, and discipline at all levels of state authority. Shaimiev added that "our adherence to establishing democratic institutions, the preservation and further development of freedom of speech, and other constitutional human rights remains unshakable."

Politician Proposes Abolishing Tatarstan's Presidential Post
In an article published in "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 7 October, former State Duma and Tatarstan State Council Deputy Fendes Safiullin called for the abolishment of the presidential post in Tatarstan. Safiullin argued that the elimination of direct elections to elect Russian regional leaders directly affects Tatarstan. Safiullin added that the measure would mean not only completely dismantling Tatarstan's state sovereignty but abolishing the status of republics as it is defined in Article 5 of the Russian Constitution. Safiullin continued that a regional head appointed from above cannot be a president, in principle, as he will not be representative of a republic and its people within the Russian Federation but, on the contrary, will represent the central authority and have the status of a "colonial governor-general." A prolongation of the powers of the current Tatar president's would not change this situation, he added. Safiullin also noted that the abolition of the post in Tatarstan should in no way mean a show of distrust in President Shaimiev.

Weekly: Moscow Unhappy With Leader Of Unified Russia In Tatarstan
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 7 October reported that the Russian presidential administration, which is trying to prohibit the introduction of the Latin alphabet in Tatarstan, is unhappy with the fact that Unified Russia's branch in Tatarstan supports the republic's change of alphabets. According to the weekly, the Kremlin is likely to soon demand that Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin be dismissed as the leader of the Unified Russia branch in Tatarstan. Mukhametshin signed an appeal by Tatarstan's legislature to the Russian Constitutional Court asking it to recognize the Tatar-language alphabet issue as an exclusive power of the republic which. The case was heard by the court on 5 October (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 and 7 October 2004).

Resident Of Tatarstan Killed By Terror Blast In Egypt
Russian Anna Ekhmedova, a 58-year old resident of the Tatar town Elmet, was killed by a bomb blast caused by suicide bombers in the Egyptian town of Taba on 8 October, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 9 October, citing Russian Vice Consul to Egypt Vladimir Bondarenko. Two explosions in Taba's Hilton Hotel claimed 34 lives. Some 105 people were injured by the blast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Discusses Centralization Of Power
Speaking at a meeting devoted to the celebration of the 14th anniversary of the adoption of Bashkortostan's Declaration of State Sovereignty on 8 October, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said that the republic's experience was different to some other regions and "demagogues, oligarch, and semi-criminal elements have not been let into power," "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 9 October. He also said that sliding privatization and shock therapy had not taken place. Rakhimov expressed his support for all initiatives by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his measures taken to reform the political system and strengthen security. At the same time, the Bashkir president expressed his concern about the excessive concentration of financial resources in Moscow. Rakhimov made critical comments on the situation where "federal bodies in federation subjects become more numerous than regional ones, something that results in expansion of the bureaucratic staff." "We also stand for strong authority but not on the account of its strong centralization," he added.

Ufa Promotes Appointment Of Mayors
Bashkortostan's State Assembly is supporting a draft law in the State Duma that would mean mayors, as well as governors, will be appointed by the Kremlin, rather than elected, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 October. Bashkir legislators have called for the abolishment of self-government in cities and regional raions, leaving it only in villages and city raions. However, the daily cited unidentified sources in the State Duma as saying the draft will be rejected since a similar legislative initiative will likely be introduced soon by the Russian president. The newspaper also quoted State Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov as saying it will be logical if city heads are appointed as thus a unified system of executive power would be formed. The publication doubted the proposal, saying under the Russian Constitution, local self-governance is separated from the state and is not included in the system of state authority bodies.

Audit Chamber Reports Violations In Mezhgorye ZATO
The board of the Russian Audit Chamber on 8 October heard the results of an audit held in Bashkortostan's Mezhgorye closed administrative-territorial formation (ZATO) in July to check how money allocated from the federal budget in 2003 was used, Regnum reported on 8 October. Auditor Sergei Ryabukhin, who delivered the report, said that 2.6 million rubles ($89,000) had been used improperly by the ZATO administration. In violation of the law, the money was used for the upkeep and security of buildings and communications services. The administration was ordered to repay the amount. Ryabukhin also said 2.2 million rubles received by ZATO in income from business activities had not been reported in its accounts. The board has decided to send the results of the audit to the Russian Finance Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, the State Duma and Federation Council, and the presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova