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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 3, 2002

3 January 2002
Parliamentary Speaker Says Russian Laws Contradict Its Constitution
State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin said in a recent interview with Tatar-inform that deputies in Tatarstan's parliament have "discovered at least 20 federal laws which contradict the Russian Constitution." He said he "hoped that federal legislators understand the situation, which is aggravated by [the fact] that Russia's prosecutor-general has no power to protest federal laws." Mukhametshin described the situation as being "just like a ticking time bomb."

Prime Minister Says Tatarstan To Maintain Stable Oil Production, Process More
Tatarstan's news agencies quoted Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 3 December as saying that in the next several years his republic will maintain its annual oil output at 28-30 million tons. He added that Tatarstan's refineries have bright prospects for increasing their production to $1.5-2 billion per year. Referring to the attempts by the republican government to integrate local oil-refining companies with Bashkortostan's petrochemical industry, Minnikhanov said, "Unfortunately, we have failed to obtain deep integration."

Muslim Religious Board Denies Reports Of Invitation To Pope
First Deputy Mufti Valiulla Khazrat of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board (MRB) on 29 December denied recent reports that Tatarstan Mufti Gusman Iskhakov invited Pope John Paul II to participate in Kazan millennium anniversary celebrations in 2005. Valiulla Khazrat called the reports "a plotted action with unclear goals," noting that Gusman Iskhakov could not deny them himself because he was on vacation. He said that such an invitation may have been sent to the pope in November 2001 during Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov's talks with the Vatican over the return of a major Kazan icon to Tatarstan's capital. "We see how the pontiff's health deteriorated and how Russia's [and] Tatarstan's political situation has changed," he said.

The same day, Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told that, during his negotiations with the Vatican, "We understood that such invitations can only be made by top Russian officials."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Would-Be Candidate Says Early Presidential Elections Unlikely
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 2 January cited Aleksandr Arinin, the head of the Institute of Federalism, as saying during his recent visit to Ufa that early presidential elections are unlikely in Bashkortostan. Arinin, who was refused registration as a presidential candidate in past elections, pushed for holding presidential elections in the first half of 2002.

Legal Wrangle Continues Between Bashkortostan's President, Yabloko Leader
Igor Rabinovich, the head of Yabloko in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service on 2 January that a suit by Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov against Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii has been sent to Moscow's Kuntsevo regional court. Rabinovich said the Bashkortostan court still has not passed along materials on the case to the Moscow court, adding that the case is a political one and that the republican leaders are dragging it out unnecessarily.

Yavlinskii was sued in 1999 for calling Bashkortostan's political regime corrupt and accusing it of wasting republican wealth. Last year, Yavlinskii was ordered to pay 800,000 rubles to President Rakhimov for insulting him by Bashkortostan's Beloretsk court, but the Russian Supreme Court threw out the Bashkir court's decision.

'Year Of Health' Begins In Bashkortostan
Bashkortostan authorities announced 2002 a year of health and appointed an organizing committee headed by Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov to develop a corresponding program to provide conditions for health care and fight drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, and tuberculosis, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 2 January. Special attention will be paid to children's health, as 45 percent of schoolchildren suffer from chronic diseases.

Chechnya Victim Commemorated
The Sibai City Council has named a street in Sibai for Lieutenant Aidar Akkulov, who died in Chechnya in September 2001, Bashinform reported on 29 December.

NefAZ Plans To Develop Bus Production
NefAZ General Manager Raif Malikov said on 29 December that his company has signed contracts on the delivery of 100 buses each to Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, and of 50 vehicles to Udmurtia Republic, in 2002. Malikov said he believes that joint venture between NefAZ and KamAZ on bus production has good prospects. Plans for painting 1,000 buses a year will be launched in 2002 under a contract with German partners, he added.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova