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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 14, 2003

14 March 2003
Shaimiev Calls For Broad Autonomy For Chechnya
In an interview with Interfax on 12 March, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said Moscow should not fear granting broad powers to Chechnya in an attempt to prevent new separatist trends. Shaimiev said the issue of "restricted sovereignty" included in the draft Chechen Constitution should not be politicized, as the sovereignty issue is a legal one. Shaimiev cited examples of constitutions from nine U.S. states that include the "sovereignty" concept and of Bavaria's status in Germany. He contested the ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court, which said that republics cannot possess sovereignty, as too politicized, arguing that republics recognized by the Russian Constitution as states cannot exist without sovereignty.

Shaimiev said the issue on whether Chechnya will remain within Russia or not currently is not on the agenda. "The Chechen people have suffered too much. In order to restore trust in the federal authorities, on one hand, and to show respect to Chechnya's residents, on the other, the republic is to be permitted to solve its fate on its own," Shaimiev added. He also said Chechnya should be allowed to use its natural resources and personnel to revive its destroyed economy. Shaimiev backed the idea of granting Chechnya broad autonomy adding, in such a case Moscow's position would be "more attractive" for Chechnya's population. Chechnya's status of broad autonomy could be fixed in a corresponding agreement on power sharing, and such a solution would stabilize both the political and economic situations in Chechnya, Shaimiev said.

Tax Officials Dismissed Following Conflict With KamAZ
The head of the Russian Tax Ministry's Tatar Directorate, Rinat Kheerov, said at a meeting on 10 March that the heads of the ministry's Chally Inspectorate, who announced the previous week the seizure of $70 million worth of KamAZ property (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 5 March 2003), have been dismissed, "Kommersant" reported on 12 March. Kheerov said, "the situation in the Inspectorate became uncontrollable by January," adding that its head, Nejmetdin Motalimov, was replaced by Rawil Geliev, who previously headed a department at the ministry's Tatar Directorate. A Tatar government commission that considered the controversy between KamAZ and the Tax Ministry the previous week found numerous violations by the ministry's Chally Inspectorate. An investigation revealed that the Chally Inspectorate demanded that the concern pay extra taxes, the daily reported. Glyuza Imanova, the KamAZ deputy general director in charge of economy and finances, commented that the Inspectorate not only moved illegal demands on payment of taxes but violated legal procedures in demanding the payment of legal taxes.

Government Plans To Privatize Tattelekom
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said Tatarstan plans to reform the state-run electrical communications company Tattelekom into a joint-stock company by 1 May in order to privatize it, reported on 12 March, citing RBC. Minnikhanov said a corresponding resolution was adopted by the Tatar government in February. Tattelekom, which unites 931 telephone stations throughout the republic, has 450,000 subscribers. In 2002, the company made 70 million rubles ($2.2 million) in profit.

Antiterrorist Exercise Reveals Low Vigilance Of Security Services
An exercise held by Tatarstan's Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, and the Emergency Situations Ministry in Tuben Kama and Mendeleevsk to practice cooperation in case of a possible terrorist act revealed shortcomings in the antiterrorist defense of industrial facilities, Tatar-inform reported on 12 March. During the action, employees of those bodies penetrated chemical and life-support companies and left plaster casts of explosive devices. As a result of the event, organizers concluded that the republic's residents are not vigilant enough, companies' property is not well protected, guards often do not coordinate their actions, and some companies do not have the necessary documents regulating the actions of their directors in emergency situations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova