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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 5, 2002

5 April 2002
President Shaimiev Calls Duma Shuffling Politics As Usual
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev called the recent redistribution of the chairmanships and committee portfolios in the Russian Duma "a normal parliamentary practice" that reflects changes in the balance of political power. He also said the Duma's speaker, Communist Gennadii Seleznev, is "a rather balanced person" who managed to keep the Duma "within definite frameworks" when the Communist Party (KPRF) was quite an influential force in the parliament. If Seleznev keeps his post against the will of the KPRF leadership, this will signify a political choice in favor of his Russia political movement, the Tatarstan president said. As a result, the Russia movement will likely distance itself from the KPRF, Shaimiev added.

Will Tatneft Purchase Kremenchug Refinery?
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Dubina, and Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Nikolai Belobolotskii were to begin their visit to Tatarstan on 5 April to discuss prospects for the purchase of the Kremenchug oil refinery in the Poltava Oblast by Tatneft, reported on 4 April. The Tatar-Ukrainian company UkrTatnafta, established in 1994, is currently the owner of the Kremenchug plant, which has an annual capacity of 18.6 million tons of oil. A 49 percent stake in UkrTatnafta belongs to the Ukrainian Property Fund and 29 percent of shares are owned by the Tatarstan State Property Committee. Aside from Tatneft, the Kremenchug refinery's sale has attracted the attention of Russian oil companies Yukos, Surgutneftegaz, and Slavneft.

Human Rights Group Says Call-Ups In Tatarstan Illegal
The Center for Peacekeeping and Human Rights Actions on 4 April appealed to the Tatarstan state prosecutor and the chief federal inspector in the republic to declare the establishment and activities of city and raion recruitment commissions in Tatarstan illegal, reported on 4 April. The center said those commissions were formed in a way that contradicts federal legislation, under which they should be established by local self-government bodies rather than by local administrations like in Tatarstan. The authors of the appeal said the situation violates citizens' rights and called for a halt to the commission's activities until republican legislation is brought into line with federal law. The center stressed that republican residents may refuse to enforce or comply with the decisions of those commissions.

American Scholars Visit Kazan To Study Ethnic Processes, Federalism Issues
The honorary director of the U.S. Library of Congress, Professor Robert Adams, said the experience of Tatarstan �- which rejected violence in resolving disputes over its constitution and chose the path of negotiations with Moscow �- is an interesting one. Adams was speaking at a meeting between a delegation of scholars from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences with Tatarstan Deputy State Council Chairman Robert Minnullin. Adams said Tatarstan uses the most up-to-date approach in resolving these complex issues while in many countries of the world, including Russia, the interests of regions and the central government often experience violent clashes or rebellion.

The director of the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Leokadia Drobizheva, said the decrease in the number of donor-regions, from 18 to five or seven, highlights a two-year-old centralization trend. She stressed that the federal commission on power-sharing headed by the deputy head of the presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, found some 300 federal laws that interfere in the powers of federation entities.

Nearly 30 Kilograms Of Heroin Found In Yeshel Uzen
Some 28.6 kilograms of heroin was found in the possession of a Tajikistan citizen and seized in Yeshel Uzen on 4 April, reported, referring to Tatarstan's Interior Ministry. Also in Yeshel Uzen the previous week, republican law enforcement found 10.8 kilograms of heroin in the apartment of a retired woman. In 2001, a total of 368 kilograms of illegal drugs -- 42.2 kilograms of it heroin -- was seized in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Lawmakers Urge President To Protest Judicial 'Interference'
The Legislative Chamber of the Bashkortostan State Assembly on 4 April appealed to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov to protest at "interference" from the Bashkortostan Supreme Court in the process of harmonizing republican and federal legislation, reported the same day. Deputies objected to the court's 15 March ruling declaring illegal numerous provisions of the draft version of the Bashkortostan Constitution. The court's was addressing a challenge by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev, who disputed Bashkortostan's treaty-based relations with Moscow and its claim to natural resources on its territory. The head of a parliamentary working group charged with studying the court verdict, Marat Kharisov, called that court decision "tendentious" and an attempt at "naked pressure against the republic's basic law."

Deputies stressed in their appeal to President Rakhimov that "any changes in constitutions of republics should be accompanied by a parallel revision of the federal constitution and federal legislation through harmonization procedures." Demands to change constitutions of federation entities following each newly adopted federal law are impermissible, they asserted. The legislature called on President Rakhimov to initiate harmonization procedures with Russian President Vladimir Putin based on the Russian Constitution and the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan.

Rakhimov Says Bashkortostan's Merger With Any Other Entity Impossible
President Rakhimov told Interfax-Eurasia on 3 April that proposals to merge some federation entities are not unfounded. Rakhimov said economic rather than political expediency is necessary for the idea to be implemented. But he stressed that only neighboring mono-ethnic regions receiving subsidies from Moscow could be merged -- for example, the Kurgan and Chelyabinsk oblasts. Rakhimov asserted that a merger of donor-regions would be economically harmful, while a merger of national republics, even if they are not donors, is politically flawed. Rakhimov denied even the theoretical possibility of Bashkortostan being merged with any neighboring region, saying, "Bashkortostan itself is able to look after its residents."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova