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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 21, 2002

21 February 2002
Tatarstan Constitution's New Version Supported By Moscow...
The new version of Tatarstan's Constitution enjoys the approval of the chief legal board of the Russian presidential administration and Tatarstan's Prosecutors' Office, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 20 February. The daily quoted an unknown source saying President Vladimir Putin was familiarized with the draft and did not show either negative or positive reaction.

...And Included In Agenda Of Parliamentary Session
The State Council presidium on 20 February adopted an agenda of the next plenary session of the parliament, reported. Amendments to the republic's constitution and the annual message of the Tatarstan president to the State Council will be among 16 issues the legislature is due to discuss on 28 February. The presidium decided to provide direct TV and radio transmission of the session.

Duma Prohibits Republics To Introduce Republican Citizenship
The State Duma has rejected an amendment by Tatarstan's State Council to the law on citizenship in the Russian Federation promoting citizenship of the republics within the Russian Federation, reported on 20 February. The Tatar legislature proposed a new paragraph in the law asserting that citizens of Russia permanently living in republics within the Russian Federation are at the same time citizens of those republics. The Duma Committee on State Construction opposed the amendment, and its Chairman Boris Nadezhdin said Bashkortostan and Tatarstan use the institution of citizenship to restrict rights of citizens of Russia living there. Deputy Fandas Safiullin, who introduced the amendment, said its rejection will result in the elimination of the federal nature of the Russian state. Aleksandr Kotenkov, the presidential representative to the Duma, said citizenship of the Russian Federation is united and equal, adding the amendment should not be adopted. The amendment enjoyed support by 21 deputies of the 226 needed, while 64 deputies voted against and the majority abstained.

Sakha Parliamentary Delegation Visits Tatarstan
A delegation of Yakutia's (Sakha) State Assembly headed by the chairman of the Chamber of the Republic, Vasilii Filippov, is visiting Tatarstan to study its experience in the development of local self-governance, reported on 20 February. Visitors took part in a meeting of State Council commissions that discussed the new version of the Tatar Constitution.

Opposition Leaders Call For Early Parliament Elections
The roundtable of Tatarstan's opposition parties issued a statement saying the 22 January ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court concerning the challenge by Marsel Salyamov is "a result of the unprincipled agreement between executive authorities of Russia and Tatarstan" and that it contradicts the principles of law. Opposition leaders called for the rapid adoption of amendments to the republican constitution and a new electoral law. Then the State Council should resign and schedule new parliamentary elections in late June-early July 2002, they said. Activists called for restricting the powers of Tatarstan's president in favor of the legislature.

One In Fourteen Tatar Aircraft Can Be Used On International Routes
Transports and Road Sector Minister Vladimir Shvetsov said 20 of the 102 aircraft Tatarstan owns meet new sound and pollution standards and 7 of them can be used on European international routes -- enough for the republic's needs, reported on 20 February. Shvetsov said a united airline will be established soon in the republic to merge all currently existing airlines.

Tatneft Closes Unprofitable Wells, Reduces Personnel
Tatneft will stop production at 2,000 unprofitable wells which provided 350,000 tons of oil annually, Finmarket reported on 20 February quoting the company's Moscow representative Azat Yagafarov. With the introduction of the united natural resources extraction tax, production at roughly 10,000 wells that produced 4 million tons of oil annually has become unprofitable, reported the same day. The agency quoted an unknown source in the company as saying that 20,000 jobs will be cut in the oil-extraction sector alone.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir President Says There Is No Ethnic Discrimination In His Republic
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent quoted President Murtaza Rakhimov on 20 February as telling "Eurasia novosti" newspaper: "Every third family in Bashkortostan was formed by an interethnic marriage, we have no problems with that. When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited our republic he believed that in this issue we have no problems and as a president I will oppose all attempts to discriminate against my fellow countrymen according to their ethnic identity."

World Bashkir Congress Chief Executive On Future Congress
Chairman of the World Bashkir Congress executive committee Niyaz Majitov said on 20 February that 550 delegates from Bashkortostan, 200 from Russian regions, and 100 from the CIS and far abroad will join the congress to be held in June 2002, RFE/RL reported. Majitov added that 40 percent of Bashkirs live outside Bashkortostan and historically the territory of the Bashkirs used to extend from modern Samara to Kurgan Oblast including the Tatar Republic.

Tatar Organizations Fear That World Tatar Congress In Kazan Won't Be Held
Leaders of Tatar organizations in Bashkortostan are uncertain whether the World Tatar Congress will be assembled for its third session in August 2002 as was previously announced, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 18 February. Although the public organizations declared their intention to prepare for the second Congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan should the World Congress not be held, CTB Chairman Radik Sibgatov denied such predictions, saying, "Bashkortostan wouldn't be able to hold both Tatar and Bashkir congresses in the same year."

Similar to Bashkir Congress organizers' preparations for the national census of October 2002, Tatar organizations in Bashkortostan have stated the importance of holding their own event in order to prepare the local Tatar community for preventing the attempts to register the Tatar population as Bashkirs. The Tatar rights movement in Bashkortostan has often criticized Radik Sibgatov for "being loyal to Bashkortostan's authorities."

Bashkortostan's Losses In Chechnya
A total of 353 Interior Ministry officers and army recruits from the Bashkir Republic have been killed in combat in Chechnya, while 507 more were wounded and 63 disabled as a result of combat, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 18 February.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi