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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 14, 2002

14 June 2002
Tatarstan Plays Host To National Seminar On Federalism
A two-day seminar titled Constitutional Justice in Federalism opened in the Tatar Constitutional Court on 13 June, reported the same day. The forum, organized by the court and the Moscow representative office of the German Konrad Adenauer fund, is hosting the heads of constitutional and other courts of subjects of the Russian Federation, as well as lawyers, parliamentary deputies, and scholars.

Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told the seminar that Russia is taking its first steps toward a law-based state and political pluralism, but, he added, the federative process and state nationalities policy are often reminiscent of policies in a monoethnic state. Mukhametshin said the Russian State Duma adopts laws that do not take into account the rights and interests of non-Russian peoples. He cited specifically the law on citizenship and draft amendments to the law on languages on the obligatory use of the Cyrillic script for all state languages in the federation. He said Russia is a multiethnic state, and federalism should, among other things, take into account the interests of ethnic groups, while ignoring those problems undermines the principles of Russian federalism.

Mukhametshin made reference to a number of politicians who have criticized the existence of six different kinds of federation subjects that are differentiated by their constitutional-legal status, which, they claim, prevents balanced state management and stable federative relations. Some of these politicians have proposed the rearrangement of all subjects into so-called "gubernias"; others have suggested that their overall number be reduced to eight-10 subjects; a third group has suggested the division of Russia into economic raions.

Mukhametshin said a unilateral decision on this issue is unacceptable. He also said the constitutional principle of subjects' equal rights should not be used to eliminate differences among them, adding that Russia's variety of regions is the source of its strength.

Shakhrai Comments On Treaty-Based Relations
Sergei Shakhrai, chief of staff of the Russian Audit Chamber, said at the seminar on Constitutional Justice in Federalism on 13 June that there are hardly any mechanisms in Russia right now to harmonize the interests of the federation and its subjects, reported the same day. In the sphere of power sharing, Shakhrai said that, "[Legislation] is being revised in a dangerous manner, because subjects of joint jurisdiction are being removed."

Commenting on power-sharing treaties between Moscow and the regions, Shakhrai said: "Russia has a constitutional nature, and issues of the status of its territories, changing administrative borders, or the powers of [federation] subjects can be discussed only within the framework of the federal constitution. The Russian Federation was not formed as a union of its subjects. The authorities in the republics, krais, and oblasts have not been empowered by their population to sign treaties on joining the federative state." Shakhrai said federation subjects should be given equal rights in relations with the federal center, adding that, "legal equality does not mean equality of potential or of the level of socioeconomic development."

Kirienko To Visit Tuben Kama, Chally
Presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko is scheduled to visit Tuben Kama on 14 June, reported the previous day, citing the press service of the chief federal inspector in Tatarstan. The visit is part of the Cultural Capital of the Volga Region program, as Tuben Kama was granted this title for 2002. Kirienko also plans to visit Chally.

Radio Director Beaten In Moscow
Ravil Rustyamov, the director of Tatarstan's Dulqyn radio station, was severely beaten by unknown assailants on 20 May in Moscow, "Novaya vecherka" weekly reported on 12 June. Rustyamov was hospitalized in intensive care with a fractured skull. He said that his assailants asked him for his name and surname before attacking him.

Rustyamov was in Moscow to file an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court against a decision according to which Dulqyn lost its broadcast license to another station called TAIF, one of the heads of which is Radik Shaimiev, son of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev.

Rustyamov is currently in stable condition, the paper reported.

Humanitarian Aid Collected For Chechen Residents
The students of the Kazan Institute of Culture and Peace, as well as other residents of Kazan, have collected 3,000 books and 2,000 articles of clothing, as well as toys and stationery that will soon be delivered as humanitarian aid to children and refugees of Chechnya, Tatar-inform reported on 13 June.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ethnological 'Encyclopedia' Published In Bashkortostan
A so-called ethnological encyclopedia titled "The Peoples of Bashkortostan" was recently published in the republic, reported on 13 June. The encyclopedia includes essays about only 12 of the 113 peoples living in Bashkortostan, including Bashkirs, Russians, Tatars, Chuvashis, Mordva, Maris, Udmurts, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Germans, Jews, and Letts.

The idea for the book was initiated by Rail Kuzeev of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995, though it wasn't published before because of insufficient financing. "The Peoples of Bashkortostan," which Kuzeev edited, was finally published upon the initiative of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, the agency reported.

All secondary schools in Bashkortostan will be given a copy of the book.

Rakhimov Addresses Journalists On Press Day...
President Rakhimov addressed workers in the information industry on 13 June in honor of Press Day, 14 June, Bashinform reported on 13 June. Rakhimov said that more than 500 publications are published in eight languages in the republic. He also said that there are more than 600 subscriptions to publications per 1,000 people in the republic, which is the highest rate in Russia. Rakhimov added that he believes "the press is able to meet the requirements of providing objective coverage of all aspects of life in [Bashkortostan]."

The holiday is being celebrated for the fifth time in the republic, marking the issuance of the first print publication in Bashkortostan, the "Mukhbir" newspaper.

...And All Republican Residents At Bashkir Congress
In his address to residents of Bashkortostan at the beginning of the second World Bashkir Congress on 13 June, President Rakhimov said, "The experience of implementing state nationalities and cultural policies, the consolidation of the peoples of the republic, and interethnic and interfaith concord are very important for the fate of big and small nations in Russia and the world."

Rakhimov said the republic has moved ahead in the economic and social sectors, as well as the development of multinational culture, since the first World Bashkir Congress in 1997.

Rakhimov also expressed his hope that the forum will be able to outline new directions for the spiritual and cultural development of the multiethnic republic and will contribute to strengthening Russia.

Congress To Discuss Religious Revival
The issue of the religious revival of the Bashkir people will be on the agenda of the second World Bashkir Congress, reported on 13 June. The agency cited an unidentified organizer of the forum as saying that, "Nothing definite has been done in this respect since the first congress, though clear plans were outlined [at that time]."

The website also quoted Bashkir Deputy Information and Press Minister Fanil Kudakaev as saying that it would be incorrect to accuse local authorities of passivity with regard to spiritual revival. Kudakaev said there are no major problems between political and religious leaders in Bashkortostan and neighboring regions. "The majority of us belong to the same faith, so we have the same goals," he said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova