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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 21, 2002

21 June 2002
Chally Resident Files Suit Regarding Constitutional Amendments
The Tatar Supreme Court considered on 19 June a challenge brought by Chally resident Azat Agliullin against actions of the Tatar State Council on the adoption of amendments to the Tatar Constitution that he claims were illegal, reported the same day. Agliullin said the parliament made drastic changes to certain articles of the Tatar Constitution that were adopted on the basis of a referendum. As a result, Agliullin claimed, Tatarstan's status was changed from "a sovereign state [and] a subject of international law associated with the Russian Federation on the basis of a power-sharing treaty" into "a democratic, legal, social state united with the Russian Federation by the Russian Constitution, the Tatar Constitution, and the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan." Agliullin said he thought the republic's status had been significantly downgraded as a result of the amendments. He said the State Council exceeded its powers and violated the Tatar law on referenda that requires decisions adopted in referenda to be changed only by another referendum. He added that the parliament violated his right to take part in the exercise of state power, which is provided by the Tatar Constitution. He cited the Russian Constitution as saying that referenda and free elections are the highest form of the direct expression of people's power. On these grounds, Agliullin asked the court to rule that the adopted amendments to the constitution are invalid.

In response, the court said, however, that Agliullin did not point out any specific rights that were violated by the amended constitution.

The court has granted the appeals of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, the Tatar State Council, and the Tatar Prosecutor's Office to postpone the case. The next hearing has been set for 28 June.

Writers Congress Calls For Tatar Unity
Tatar-inform published on 20 June an appeal to the Tatar people adopted at the 31 May congress of Tatar writers that said the division of the Tatar nation into smaller groups would also mean the division of Tatar literature, which has been developing its traditions for a millennium. The appeal said an attempt to divide the Tatar nation could result in very complex language, cultural, ethnic, and religious problems, among others.

The writers congress said it is impossible to imagine how "the poetry of the great [Gabdulla] Tukai could be read in five or six [Tatar] languages," or how writers or printed editions could be divided among different Tatar ethnic groups. They said Tatar literature is indivisible, as is the Tatar language. "We have common traditions, [a common] soul, and [a common] fate. We are first of all Tatars and only then Mishers, Astrakhan, Siberian Tatars, Nogais, Christian Tatars, [or] Tipters."

The appeal concluded by saying that the October national census will be an important historical event in the country and that Tatars should take part in it as a united Tatar nation.

Nationalities Minister Promises Subsidies, State Positions To Ethnic Groups
When asked about the Russian national census in October, Russia's minister responsible for nationalities policy, Vladimir Zorin, told Interfax on 19 June that, "representatives of ethnic groups who agree to be counted [separately] will be provided with subsidies from the budget and vacancies in government bodies." Zorin said the census will allow the interests of national diasporas to be taken into account in the state budget in the near future. He added that many national groups are not currently represented in organs of local self-government, and that the census will help them "come to power." Zorin said each person will freely choose his or her national identity since census takers won't be supplied with a list of nationalities. He denied what he called "wild rumors" that personal data obtained in the census may be used to create, and then sell, databases on compact discs.

Seven Tatar Companies Among Best Exporters In Russia
Seven companies based in Tatarstan made the list of Russia's best companies in terms of exports in 2001, Tatar-inform reported on 20 June. Of Russia's regions, Tatarstan had the most companies on the list. Vneshnetorgovaya Firma KamAZ, Kazanorgsintez, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Kazanskii Vertoletnyi Zavod, Elektropribor, Tatneft, and Zelenodolskii Fanernyi Zavod were named among 71 Russian companies. The list was composed by the Economic-Trade Council at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russia's Chief Rabbi Visits Ufa
Russian Rabbi Berl Lazar met with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov in Ufa on 20 June, reported the same day, citing the administration of Bashkir State Secretary Faukat Kidrasov. During the meeting, Lazar and Rakhimov agreed that a synagogue will be built and a Jewish secondary school opened in the Bashkir capital.

During his one-day visit, Lazar met with Chairman of the Russian Central Muslim Religious Board Talgat Tadzhuddin, Ufa administration head Rauf Nugumanov, and representatives of the local Jewish community. Russia's chief rabbi also visited one of the possible lots for the construction of a synagogue.

During his meeting with Rakhimov, Lazar praised the Bashkir president for the civic and political stability in the republic. He said he was glad to see that Rakhimov has an interest in demographic problems, the education of youth, the support of small nations and ethnic groups, as well as in preserving their cultures, languages, and histories. The rabbi said that there is no anti-Semitism in the republic and that representatives of different nationalities are proud of their origins and live in peace with one another.

Lazar told a press conference the same day that Jews have a good life in Bashkortostan. He also said that the Muslim board's Tadzhuddin realizes that all peoples should live in peace and concord. Lazar then praised the course taken by Rakhimov in religious and demographic issues, saying, "I, being a father of nine children, have met here an understanding [of religious and demographic issues] like none that I have found anywhere before."

Bashkortostan Floats $15.9 Million Bond
Bashkortostan floated a bond worth 500 million rubles ($15.9 million) on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange on 18 June, RBK reported the next day, citing the Uralsib bank. The republic issued 500,000 1,000-ruble ($31.8) bonds that are to be repaid on 21 June 2003. A coupon at 3.75 percent interest is to be repaid every 92 days. The Standard & Poor's international rating agency gave the loan an unsecured B rating. Bashkortostan's first bond issue of 1 billion rubles ($31.8 million) was floated in November 2001 with an annual yield of 19.25 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova