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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 30, 2002

30 May 2002
TIU Leader Badly Beaten, In Intensive Care
A group of seven or eight masked assailants armed with hammers and other steel instruments entered the office of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally yesterday and attacked several members of the TIU, including Chairman Rafis Kashapov, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported the same day.

Three TIU members, including Kashapov and an unnamed man and woman, were hospitalized and are currently in intensive care. Kashapov suffered serious head injuries and is being prepared to undergo surgery, while the other man is in critical condition. The current condition of the injured woman is unknown.

Kashapov is a radical nationalist leader who is in open opposition to republican authorities.

State Council Promotes Nationality Entry In Russian Passports
The Tatarstan State Council appealed to federal authorities yesterday to include an entry listing citizens' nationality in new Russian passports, reported the same day. Deputies argued that the absence of such an entry violates the constitutional right of Russian citizens to determine and fix their national identity.

The Tatarstan legislature came out in support of a prior appeal by the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Oblast to the Russian government to ask that nationalities be listed in the new passports.

In its appeal to the government, the Vladimir Oblast parliament said that similar calls had also been made by legislative and executive bodies of Krasnodar Krai; Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Volgograd oblasts; Bashkortostan, and other subjects of the Russian Federation.

Tatarstan Speaker Calls For Amendments To Federal Laws
Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said the federal authorities have accumulated too many powers that they are unable to exercise properly. As a result, he added, the Russian people have developed a negative attitude toward Moscow in general and Russian President Vladimir Putin in particular, reported yesterday. Mukhametshin made this comment at a meeting of the Russian regions' parliamentary speakers in Moscow on 21 May.

The Tatarstan speaker stressed that some 200 to 300 federal laws need to be amended to harmonize them with the Russian Constitution. The Tatarstan legislature has suggested amendments to 22 federal laws while analysts from the Volga Federal District found more than 60 laws that contradict Russia's constitution.

Mukhametshin added that under the existing procedure, it is impossible to pass amendments to federal laws in the State Duma, and he said that another, faster procedure should be created. Otherwise, he said, the harmonization of regional legislation with federal laws will go on for years.

Mukhametshin suggested that before amendments to federal laws are discussed by the State Duma, they be presented to regional legislatures and agreed by them. He asserted that the time has come to recognize that some regional laws are better than federal ones.

President Putin, who was in attendance at the meeting, agreed that a new mechanism should be developed to harmonize the country's federal and regional legislation.

KamAZ To Cut 15,000 Jobs
The KamAZ automotive concern is planning to lay off 15,000 of its 58,000 employees, Tatarstan First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov told a session of Chally City Council on 29 May, reported the same day. Muratov suggested that the company use currently idle production facilities to employ these workers in the production of spare parts. The deputy prime minister also suggested that laid-off workers try their hand at business.

Meanwhile, Gumer Nuretdinov, the head of the union of KamAZ employees, said that a staff reduction of more than 10 percent requires the approval of the Tatarstan government, which has so far not been granted, reported, quoting the Efir television channel. Nuretdinov added that the report on layoffs contradicts the recent statement by KamAZ general Director Sergei Kogogin, who said at a 27 May meeting with trade-union leaders that he does not support the idea of cutting personnel, since the concern's main task is to increase production.

Tatarstan Muslim Board Calls For Tatar Unity
The plenum of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board passed a resolution on 24 May calling on all Tatars to register in the October national census as Tatars, reported on 28 May. Tatarstan Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakubov told the agency that the Muslim board was worried that the united Tatar nation will be divided in the census into some 10 regional, faith-based, and other groups, including Astrakhan Tatars, Mishers, Christian Tatars, Nagaibaks, and others.

Komi Tatars, Bashkirs To Hold Second Congress
The second congress of Tatars and Bashkirs living in the Komi Republic is to be held in Usinsk on 31 May, Komiinform reported on 28 May. The forum is intended to outline the further development of the Tatar-Bashkir diaspora and its cultural and economic cooperation with Tatarstan and Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliamentary Speaker Urges Constitutional Assembly To Wait
Bashkortostan State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev met with parliamentary deputies yesterday to discuss constitutional reform in the republic, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Referring to Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov's decree to convene the republic's Constitutional Assembly on 30 May, Tolkachev said: "The new constitution of Tatarstan, which is the result of joint conciliation efforts of republican and federal bodies, entered into force on 10 May this year. It is necessary to wait a little while to see the reaction of the federal [government to the document]." Tolkachev said it was essential to find out which of Tatarstan's constitutional provisions have been opposed by Moscow before the Constitutional Assembly can begin its work.

Baikov Named Republic's Chief Prosecutor
At a meeting of officials from the Bashkortostan Prosecutor's Office yesterday, Florid Baikov was appointed chief prosecutor of the republic by order of Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov. Another topic on the meeting's agenda was the efficiency of prosecution bodies in Bashkortostan, the republic's presidential press service reported the same day.

Rakhimov Meets With Chief Of Volga-Ural Military District
President Murtaza Rakhimov met yesterday with Aleksandr Baranov, chief commander of the Volga-Ural military district, the republic's presidential press service reported. The two reportedly discussed the overall economic situation in Bashkortostan, the republic's policies regarding the patriotic upbringing of youth, and the future use of former military facilities on the territory of the republic that have become available as a result of cutbacks in Russia's armed forces.

Baranov acknowledged during the meeting that Bashkortostan has traditionally been among the best Russian regions in recruitment, as well as the military and patriotic education of youth.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi