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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 15, 2004

15 October 2004
Parliament Official Says Administrative Reform Eliminates Tatarstan's Statehood
In an interview with "Zvezda povolzhya" on 14 October, Tatar State Council Economic Development and Investments Committee Chairman Marat Galiev said the administrative reform initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin will mean for Tatarstan the loss of its statehood. Galiev said the reforms will affect most of all Article 5 of the Russian Constitution, under which republics are states. Galiev added that if officials are no longer directly elected, then it will be necessary to completely change Tatarstan's Constitution. Commenting on Putin's thesis of Russia being in a state of war, Galiev said, "if this is a real war, then a corresponding legislative act should be adopted" but in fact "a secret military management is being introduced." The system currently being proposed is in many respects adopted from Soviet times, he said.

Asked about whether Putin will demand that the post of Tatar president be abolished, Galiev said the trend is to equalize Russia's entities. He added that unlike governors who head the executive in other regions, the Tatar president is the head of the republic and thus holds not only executive but also legislative powers. He expressed the hope that the republic will maintain the post of president through its power-sharing treaty. Galiev also predicted that there will be some modification of the power-sharing treaty between Tatarstan and Russia. There has never been and will never be full equality among Russia's regions, he said, adding that "Tatarstan will not reconcile itself to the full loss of statehood."

2005 Budget Passed In First Reading
Tatarstan's State Council passed on 13 October the 2005 budget in the first reading, Tatar news agencies reported the same day. According to the Economy and Industry Ministry's forecast, the republic's gross regional product will increase by 6.1 percent to 380 billion rubles ($13 billion), while industrial production will rise by 5.5 percent to 330 billion rubles. Republican budget revenues will total 43.5 billion rubles while expenses will be 45.5 billion rubles. Oil production will total 30 million tons and total investment in the republic will be 75.4 billion rubles. The 2005 budget is to be passed as a whole by 27 November.

Republic's Supreme Court Confirms Abolition Of BTIU Chally Branch
Tatarstan's Supreme Court has verified the Chally City Court verdict on the abolishment of the local branch of the Tatar Public Center (BTIU), an RFE/RL Chally correspondent reported on 12 October. The lawsuit was initiated in August by Tatarstan's Justice Ministry, which said the Chally organization did not succeed in reregistering, which violates the law on public associations. The BTIU branch also did not provide reports on its activities. Branch leader Rafis Kashapov argued that the law applies to the BTIU as a whole, not to its separate branches and appealed the Chally court verdict in the Supreme Court. Following the ruling, branch leaders said they will again appeal the decision to the Russian Supreme Court and then, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.

Muslims Begin Ramadan
Tatarstan's Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Gosman Iskhaqov addressed his greetings on 14 October to the republic's Muslims on the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, reported the same day. Tatarstan's Muslim Spiritual Directorate administration head Ilyas Jihansha told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 14 October that the Ramadan fast begins on 15 October and ends on 14 November this year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Delegation Visits Kazakhstan
A delegation from Bashkortostan headed by President Murtaza Rakhimov is to leave for Astana for a one-day official visit on 15 October, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported on 14 October. Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev, presidential-administration head Radii Khebirov, deputy prime ministers and ministers, and heads of the Ufa, Sterletamaq, and Baimaq city administrations are among delegation members. The delegation will meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and sign a cooperation agreement in the trade, economic, scientific, technical, health-care, cultural, tourism, educational, and sport sectors between the Bashkir government and the Astana city administration.

Alma-Ata Tatar-Bashkir society head Zifa Rafiqova told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 14 October that local Bashkirs have no possibility of receiving Bashkir-language television and radio programs. She said the issue could be discussed with Bashkir officials but no meetings with the Tatar-Bashkir community have been scheduled.

Lawyer Of Arrested Human Rights Activist Shares Own View Of Situation
Filyus Ismegyilev, a lawyer for Committee for Social Defense of Servicemen Chairman Vladimir Simarchuk, who was arrested on 11 October on allegation of violating an 18-year-old army deserter, told "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" on 15 October that someone wants to slander Simarchuk and the prosecutor's office issued false information. Ismegyilev said no accusation against Simarchuk has yet been produced while allegations are based on a complaint where no violation is mentioned, only sexual solicitation. The lawyer emphasized that articles immediately appeared in local media following the incident saying that the committee has exhausted itself and real help can be obtained only in the military enlistment office. He also said the committee has been actively defending servicemen in court for some time and this "was not playing into certain officials' hands."

Simarchuk has persistently criticized the fact that Bashkortostan sends many more draftees to the army than Moscow, despite Bashkortostan's population's being much smaller than that of the Russian capital.

New Communist Party Elects Managing Body
Over 100 people from Bashkortostan's regions took part in an initiative congress of the republic's branch of the Russian Communist Party of the Future (VKPB) held in Beloretsk in early October, Bashinform reported on 13 October. The forum elected the party's Republican Committee of Bashkortostan comprising 13 members and a Control-Revision Commission of five members. VKPB Central Committee member Yevgenii Shabaev was elected republican committee first secretary, Boris Nurislamov second secretary, and Dmitrii Tverskov third secretary. Nurislamov told the news agency that over 500 applications to join the party have been collected in the republic. He said the majority of applicants are under 40.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova