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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 25, 2002

25 March 2002
President Shaimiev Visits Sweden
President Mintimer Shaimiev was expected to depart on 25 March for a three-day visit to Sweden at the invitation of the Swedish government, reported on 23 March. Shaimiev is to meet Prime Minister Goeran Persson and Minister of Foreign Trade and Regional Development Leif Pagrotsky, visit Ericsson and Scania facilities, and deliver a lecture at the Swedish Foreign Policy Institute. A letter of intent is due to be signed between the Swedish state investment company Swedfund and Tatfondbank to establish a joint leasing company for the Tatarstan market. Shaimiev is accompanied by First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov, State Adviser Timur Akulov, Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov, and company executives.

Russian Foreign Ministry Said To Be Unhappy About Kuchma's Treating Shaimiev As President
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 21 March wrote that President Shaimiev was invited to take part in a recent summit of presidents of Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova in Odesa in order to utilize Tatarstan's experience in the Transdniester issue. The suggestion is that President Vladimir Putin realizes and positively evaluates Tatarstan's experience while resolving complicated international issues -- neatly presenting "the model of Tatarstan" in an "export wrapping." Meanwhile, within Russia, everything is being done to deprive Tatarstan of its remaining sovereignty and autonomy, the paper asserted. The weekly asserted that the Russian Foreign Ministry was irked by protocol that put Shaimiev side-by-side with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma at Odesa airport. Kuchma demonstrated that he considers Shaimiev a state president, the paper commented, while the Russian Foreign Ministry views Shaimiev as the head of a federation entity. The ministry ordered all television channels to cut a scene of meeting Putin at the airport, according to the paper.

Putin Shows Interest In Kazan Jewish Community, Praises Tatarstan Leadership For Calm
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid special attention to the life of the Kazan Jewish community at a recent meeting with Russia's rabbis, reported on 22 March. Tatarstan's chief rabbi, Itskhak Gorelik, said at the meeting that the correct national policy of Tatarstan authorities promotes the development of the Jewish community and stronger, friendlier relations between nations and faiths in the republic. Gorelik told the agency that Putin expressed his satisfaction with the situation in Tatarstan.

Morozov Not Backing Seleznev Dismissal
Svetlana Obolentseva, the press secretary to the Duma's Russian Regions faction leader, Oleg Morozov, denied reports that Morozov's name is on a list of possible candidates for Duma speaker, calling the speculation journalistic fantasy, "Konets nedeli" reported on 23 March. Obolentseva said Morozov himself does not know how the information appeared, adding he is against the dismissal of Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev and considers Seleznev a good professional.

Tatarstan's Militia Studies U.S. Experience In Fighting Terrorism
Five officials from the Los Angeles Police Department are taking part in a seminar on fighting extremism that opened on 23 March in Kazan, reported. Forum participants discuss issues of nationalism and prevention of hate crimes, and adapting U.S. experience to local conditions. Scholars from the Interior Ministry Institute, St. Petersburg's European University, and the Juridical Institute of the Prosecutor-General's Office are in attendance.

Atlant-Soyuz To Lease Five Tu-214s
The general managers of Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant KAPO and Atlant-Soyuz Airline, Nail Khairullin and Stanislav Leichenko, and the deputy general manager of Finance Leasing Company, Konstantin Kolesnik, signed an agreement on the lease of five Kazan-produced Tu-214 aircraft on 21 March, reported. The sides agreed to develop in the next month terms of the delivery to Atlant-Soyuz of three passenger and two transport planes. Atlant-Soyuz, the official transport company for the Moscow government since 1998, last year was Russia's second-largest cargo transportation company after Aeroflot. In August 2001, it leased four Voronezh Il-96-400 transport planes.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa Repeats Commitments To Sovereignty, Power-Sharing Treaty
Bashkortostan Secretary of State Faukat Kidrasov and Constitutional Court Chairman Ildus Adigamov on 22 March said Bashkortostan is a sovereign state and will remain so. The republic is not going to annul its 1994 power-sharing treaty with Moscow, the potential of which is not yet exhausted, the officials stressed. Kidrasov and Adigamov held a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Federative Treaty. "If we give up the treaty, then we will have to give up the constitution, in which the treaty was included," Kidrasov said. He said those entities that hastily annul their power-sharing treaties not only lose those powers but also shift responsibility for their affairs to others. Kidrasov asserted that the Federative Treaty helped save Russia from the destructive processes that developed following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

For his part, Adigamov said the Bashkortostan Supreme Court ruling that annulled a vast number of constitutional paragraphs was illegal. He reasoned that neither a constitutional court nor any other court is able to decide on the fate of the constitution. In other comments, Adigamov noted that the Chechen Constitution announcing Chechnya's independence from Russia has not been annulled and is still in force. So the Chechen issue cannot be resolved in a military way, he stressed.

Meanwhile, "Izvestiya" on 22 March wrote that the deputy head of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov, during his visit to Ufa on 21 March likely tried to persuade the republic's leadership to reject both the power-sharing treaty and the "sovereignty" principle.

Bashkortostan Prosecutor Reportedly Dismissed
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 22 March quoted unidentified sources in Russian government and law enforcement as saying that Bashkortostan's prosecutor, Yaudat Turumtaev, is serving out the end of his days in that post. He reportedly will be replaced by Salavat Karimov, a former head of the serious crimes department within the republican Prosecutor's Office's and a person "enjoying Moscow's infinite confidence." Two years ago, Karimov was called to Moscow especially for the completion of a criminal case against Vladimir Gusinsky.

More Tatars Get Chance To Become Bashkirs
"Watandash" in its March issue proceeded with a campaign intended to persuade Tatars living in the republic's northwestern raions that they are Bashkirs, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 24 March. This time, World Bashkir Congress leader Niyaz Mazhitov and history professors Nadir Kulbakhtin and Marat Kulsharipov quoted documents purportedly from the 18th-20th centuries in an effort to show the "Bashkir origin" of residents of the republic's Kushnarenko and Dyurtoile raions.

Young Families Pledged State Support
The State Assembly passed a draft law on state support for young families in its first reading on 21 March, Bashinform reported. The chairwoman of the State Youth Committee, Kamilya Davletova, said 10,000 young families currently need new apartments and 7,000 have applied for a total of 170,000 million rubles in long-term loans to construct or purchase apartments. She said beginning from 2003, 1,500 young families will each be provided with at least 150,000 rubles a year in loans. The implementation of the law will thus require the allocation of 225 million rubles from the republican budget, she stressed.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova