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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 30, 2002

30 January 2002
State Commission Discusses Draft Tatarstan Constitution
Tatarstan's Constitutional Commission gathered on 29 January for its first session devoted to a draft constitution altered to comply with Russian law. In his opening speech, Tatarstan President and commission Chairman Mintimer Shaimiev paid tribute to the stabilizing role of the first Tatarstan Constitution, adopted on 6 November 1992. "We will have to alter the constitution, since we live in a federative state where the legislation of its entities has to conform with the center," he said. Shaimiev cited some articles in the constitution "which cannot be implemented objectively, the ones adopted taking into consideration the will of the people and all parts of the society" -- an apparent reference to articles on Tatarstan's sovereignty and its status as a subject under international law.

Academician Indus Tahirov, who is a commission member, the chief executive of World Tatar Congress, told RFE/RL after the meeting that the draft contained a number of contradictory articles which stated that Tatarstan was independent and at the same time a part of the Russian Federation. He suggested that such ambiguities could be used by Tatar legislators to preserve the legal sovereignty of the republic within the document.

Another committee member, Tatar State Council Deputy Sergei Oskolok, said the draft lacked an article on industries representing federal property on the republic's territory, such as Kazan Aircraft Plant, Kazan Gunpowder Plant, and ship and ammunition factories in Yashel Uzen. He added that the situation at these federal enterprises should not adversely affect the social and economic state of Tatarstan's population.

Political adviser Midkhat Farukshin proposed that the draft stipulate the state status of a constitution-based political system in Tatarstan. He also found it essential to state the rights of Tatar people in the document, "because in modern Russia much attention is paid to the individual's rights and freedoms," while collective rights like self-determination, ethnic culture, and language are being neglected.

The draft constitution will be published after deliberations in the Tatar State Council in February.

Journalists' Rights Violations Reported In Kazan
The Kazan Glasnost Fund has registered 10 violations of journalists' right to information in January, Tatnews agency reported on 29 January. Reporters of both Tatarstan State TV and private-owned Efir TV were restricted from working on the premises of the Kazan gas-supply networks office and checking the operations of the city's heating network. Senior representatives at Kazan Gunpowder Plant also reversed permission granted to an Efir TV correspondent who was going to shoot a story about a recent accident there (see "RFE/RL Tatar Daily Review," 28 January 2002). The Fund is preparing lawsuits against the mentioned enterprises in order to promote openness by state officials to the media.

Gaynutdin States Concern About Islam-related Programs On Russia TV, Radio
The chairman of the Muslim Religious Board for the European part of Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin, told on 29 January that financial difficulties were the reason that a number of Islam-related programs on Russian State RTR, Kultura TV channels, and State Radio did not air the past two weeks. Gaynutdin said he has convinced executives at Kultura TV to resume one program, and his board allocated $4,000 to maintain the "Voice of Islam" program on Russian Radio.

KamAZ To Make A Technological Leap In Truck Production
KamAZ automotive concern plans to launch a number of totally modernized workshops after receiving the final shipment of Japanese and Western-made machinery with the help of Japanese Kanematsu and Mitsubishi heavy industries, KamAZ press service reported after a meeting of Japanese businessmen with the concern's general director, Ivan Kostin, on 29 January. The $176 million project was started with the sponsorship of the Japanese International Cooperation Bank in 1997 and is aimed at helping KamAZ double the durability of its heavy truck engines and meet Euro-2 and Euro-3 international pollution standards, representatives said. News agencies said the final stage of the transaction will be a major event for the Russian automotive industry in 2002.

Homeless Children Said To Need More Protection From The State...
Deputy Interior Minister Rafil Nugumanov told a press conference in Kazan on 29 January that over 900 vagrant children were found by Tatarstan law enforcement in 2001. Some 625 of the detained children were reportedly ordered to beg on the streets by adults. Expressing concerns over family violence, Nugumanov emphasized a need to allow children to live separately from their parents if a court deems it appropriate. Otherwise, he said, such children will get the "wrong upbringing." The only rehabilitation center targeting such children in Kazan can only host 50 such cases.

President Shaimiev Decorated By Russian Military
The chief military commander of the Volga-Ural military district, Aleksandr Baranov, met President Mintimer Shaimiev on 29 January to present him with a personal pistol on behalf of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. The gift is connected with an award for his government's work preserving defense factories in the republic and promoting army service among young people. "Your republic is a vivid example for many others, and there is always something to learn from you," Baranov said. The same day, Baranov visited the Kazan Tank School to award it with a red banner "for maintaining a high level of combat readiness."

...As Tatarstan Wants Moscow To Step In To Help Solve The Problem
Representatives of Tatarstan's Education Ministry will join the Russian State Duma debate devoted to amendments to the federal Education Law on 4 February, Deputy Minister Vera Bogovarova told reporters on 29 January. The ministry will propose obligatory school education for children so that even poor students cannot be expelled before they turn 16. The move is expected to combat increasing child vagrancy, along with a proposal to use federal budget funds to transport runaways back to their homes.

First Dress Shop For Muslim Women Opened In Kazan
The first-ever Muslim dress shop opened in the capital, Kazan, to meet demand from women who prefer modern clothes that do not violate Sharia law, reported on 29 January.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Stepashin Praises Bashkortostan For 'Reasonable Privatization'
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov met the chairman of the Russian Audit Chamber, Sergei Stepashin, on 29 January in Ufa, RFE/RL reported. Stepashin praised the government of Bashkortostan for avoiding mistakes during privatization in the early 1990s, particularly in the oil industry. During the talks, both sides reportedly agreed on the importance of close interaction between the accounting bodies in Bashkortostan with those of neighboring regions and the federal Audit Chamber.

President Says Control Committee Saving Millions
Speaking at a meeting of control-audit bodies of the Volga federal district in Ufa on 29 January, President Rakhimov said, "Time has proven the necessity of the creation of the State Control Committee in Bashkortostan in 1993." He said each inspection performed by the Committee has helped to save state funds, adding that 590 million rubles ($19.6 million) has been returned to the state budget by the control body in the past two years.

Ufa Jobless Figure Low, Dominated By Women
The official unemployment figure in Ufa reached 18,300 in 2001, which is 3,700 less than a year earlier, Bashinform reported on 29 January. The official unemployment rate was estimated at 1.37 percent of the workforce, while 72.5 percent of the jobless are women. The average jobless individual in Bashkortostan's capital was out of work for five months and received 776 rubles ($25) in monthly allowances, officials said.

Industrial Growth Totals 6 Percent In 2001
Bashkortostan's government press service on 28 January said the republic posted 6.1 percent industrial growth in 2001, while the agriculture sector increased its output by 11.9 percent compared to 2000. Gross regional product exceeded the figure of a year ago by 5.6 percent.

Republican Officials Agree Technology Transfer With Austrians
During a visit by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to Moscow on 29 January, officials from Bashkortostan's Foreign Affairs Ministry met leaders of Austrian Management und Beratungs GmbH to conclude an agreement on launching high-quality paper production using Austrian equipment in the republic. Housing and Municipal Services Minister Pavel Kachkaev also signed a cooperation treaty with Austrian VADO Int. on modernizing heating stations in Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi