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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 5, 2003

5 February 2003
Russian Prosecutors File Second Suit Against Tatar Constitution
Tatarstan's Supreme Court will consider the complaint by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev that 19 articles of the Tatar Constitution violate federal law and 18 more articles were already declared illegal, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 5 February.

Zvyagintsev objected to the constitutional article on Tatarstan's status within the Russian Federation and the provision saying that the article may be altered only by a republican referendum. Article 1 of the Tatar Constitution says that Tatarstan is a state united with Russia through the Russian Constitution, the Tatar Constitution, and the bilateral power-sharing treaty.

The Prosecutor-General's Office is requesting that the court declare illegal the articles introducing Tatarstan citizenship, the right to participate in international and foreign economic relations within the scope of its commissions set by the 1994 power-sharing treaty, and the article rejecting war as a means of resolving conflicts. It also objects to some of the provisions regulating the work of the Tatar president, State Council, Cabinet of Ministers, and the Constitutional Court.

In addition, Zvyagintsev asked the court to reconfirm the illegality of provisions on Tatarstan's people as the bearer of the republic's sovereignty and the source of authority along with the article declaring Tatarstan's flag and state crest as the official symbols expressing the sovereignty, originality, and tradition of its people.

This is the second case filed by the Prosecutor-General's Office regarding the new Tatar Constitution adopted in mid-2002. In October 2002, prosecutors submitted a list of 52 constitutional provisions to be abolished, but the Tatar Supreme Court ruled against the protest because Moscow failed to mention which state interests were violated by the new constitution and from what date the articles are to be considered illegal.

Government Said To Be Discussing Dissolution Of State Council
On 4 February President Mintimer Shaimiev devoted his first cabinet meeting since returning from vacation to the early elections for Tatarstan's State Council, the structure of the new parliament, and elections for local self-government bodies, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote on 5 February. These elections will reportedly be set for the same date in December with Russian Duma and presidential elections. The closed-door meeting reportedly concerned the "future self-dissolution" of the parliament "which is likely to take place in September 2003." According to the paper, the new parliament will be a bicameral body, with the upper chamber representing the republic's regions and the lower chamber consisting of deputies elected from party lists and voting districts.

Federal Ministry Confirms Plans To Revive Nuclear Project In Tatarstan
Tatar Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov took part in a conference of regional officials discussing the future of nuclear-energy-industry development at the Balakovo nuclear-power plant in Saratov Oblast on 4 February, TatNews reported the same day. The agency cited unnamed Atomic Energy Ministry officials as announcing during the event that Russia's strategy for the development of the nuclear power called for the restarting construction of the Kama Alany nuclear-power plant in Tatarstan after 2010. Before that, the ministry experts will reportedly verify the results of seismological and ecological research, which led to the closure of the project in the early 1990s.

Aleksii II Switches The Pitch Of Rhetoric On State Orthodoxy In Tatarstan
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksii II sent a letter to President Shaimiev expressing his gratitude to the latter's "attention and personal involvement in resolving the conflict" around the St. Tatyana chapel in Chally, according to the presidential press service on 4 February. Aleksii wrote that he was glad that interethnic and interconfessional dialogue had resumed in Tatarstan thanks to the rich experience of interaction between the representatives of two traditional religions, Orthodoxy and Islam. In October 2002 Aleksii issued a statement condemning what he called an act of vandalism against the St. Tatyana chapel, noting that the state of Orthodoxy in Tatarstan is worse than in Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 October and 20 December 2002).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Appeals Court Upholds Verdict Against Yavlinskii In Defamation Suit
A Moscow city court has upheld a prior ruling handed down by the Kuntsevskii Intermunicipal Court of Moscow in a defamation case brought by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov against Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, Bashinform reported on 4 February (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5, 6, and 27 June 2002). In accordance with that ruling, Yavlinskii is to pay President Rakhimov 20,000 ($628) in compensation for moral damages. Bashkortostan's envoy to the Russian president, Abbas Gellemov, said that any money received from Yavlinskii would likely be donated to an orphanage to purchase television sets so that "the children could listen to Yavlinskii."

Commission Announces Figures Of Pretenders For March Elections
By the close of registration for the 16 March parliamentary elections in the republic, 600 pretenders had registered to compete for 120 seats, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 4 February, citing the Bashkir Central Election Commission. According to the commission, two-thirds of all pretenders are independents, while 18.5 percent represent the Unified Russia party, 8 percent are from the Communist Party, 2.2 percent are from the Union of Rightist Forces, and 1 percent of the pretenders are from Yabloko. All incumbent deputies of the State Assembly's Legislative Chamber are running for re-election.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova