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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 25, 2002

25 July 2002
Senator From Tatarstan Outlines Problems Of Developing Local Self-Government
Speaking in Yekaterinburg on 24 July at a Ural Federal District meeting devoted to the prospects of legislative provision of the development of local self-government, Rafgat Altynbaev, Tatarstan's representative to the Federation Council and chairman of the committee on issues of local self-government, criticized the existing legal basis of local self-government for its outdated character, reported the same day. Altynbaev said corresponding legislation does not take into account geographic, historical, and cultural peculiarities of municipal entities, the financial and economic basis of local self-government has not been established, and the basic law on common principles for the establishment of local self-government in the Russian Federation refers to other legal acts.

Altynbaev stressed that the reform of the system of local self-government should take into account the opinion of local residents, regional peculiarities, and previous experience. Different kinds of municipal entities should be given different amounts of power, he said. The senator pointed out that the status of heads of local self-government bodies needs to be clarified, the responsibility of local authorities needs to be strengthened, and the order of recalling elected persons needs to be determined in federal legislation.

India's Ambassador To Visit Tatarstan
Indian Ambassador to Russia Krishnan Raghunatkh is to arrive on 25 July in Kazan for a two-day visit, reported on 24 July. Raghunatkh will meet with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, and Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov and visit Kazan's cultural monuments. India was Tatarstan's seventh-largest foreign trade partner in 2001 with trade turnover totaling $110.7 million, double that in 2000.

Shaimiev Third-Best Lobbyist Among Regional Leaders
President Shaimiev was ranked third on the list of most efficient lobbyists among Russia's regional leaders, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 24 July. Shaimiev follows Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor Roman Abramovich, who tops the list, and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. The previous month, Shaimiev was second on the list, followed by Luzhkov.

The rating was composed by the Agency of Economic News together with "Nezavisimaya gazeta" as a result of questioning 63 experts who selected leaders in "civilized lobbying" among 240 candidates.

Anti-Tobacco Campaign Starts In Tatarstan
Some 10,000 posters citing the law prohibiting selling tobacco to teenagers under 18 years old will be placed in shops in Tatarstan, reported on 24 July. The action was initiated by the Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Ministry together with the republic's Anti-Drug Center to promote implementation of the federal law on restricting tobacco smoking.

Kazan Authorities Seek To Include Sabantui In List Of UNESCO-Protected Heritage Sites
The Kazan administration began preparing documents to appeal to UNESCO to include the Tatar national holiday Sabantui in that organization's list of the verbal and spiritual heritage of mankind, reported on 24 July. The idea of including Sabantui on the list of protected cultural objects was initiated by UNESCO Deputy General Director Munir Bushinaki, who attended Sabantui during his visit to Kazan last year and noted its national peculiarity and unique nature.

UNESCO began protecting nonmaterial cultural objects in 1997 and currently there are 19 such objects under its protection, including those existing in Russia -- the culture of Cossacks and of Baikal old-believers.

Muslim Women Protest At Supreme Court
A group of Muslim women appealed to the Tatar Supreme Court to complain that a judge at Kazan's Vakhitov Raion Court refused to file their suits against the Interior Ministry's Passport-Visa Service, reported on 24 July citing Union of Muslim Women Chairwoman Almira Adiatullina as saying. Adiatullina said appeals of only three of more than 20 Muslim women who asked the Passport-Visa Service for permission to wear headscarves in their passport photographs have been accepted by the Vakhitov Raion Court, while the rest of them, including Adiatullina herself, were refused. The court held the first hearing on the case on 19 July and scheduled the next one for 2 August.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Correspondent Claims Bashkir Authorities To Have Hand In Electing Tatar Delegates
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent cited an unidentified source on 23 July as saying that the list of delegates for the third World Tatar Congress (BTK) has been compiled and "is on the desk of Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov." The correspondent added that delegates are to be elected at municipal and district conferences organized by local administrations, though they should be arranged by local branches of Bashkortostan's BTK and other Tatar organizations. In this way, the correspondent said, delegates to the World Tatar Congress are going to be selected not by Tatars but by Bashkirs, as well as by republican authorities.

The decision to hold a Tatar congress in Bashkortostan was made less than a month before the event is to be held, the correspondent said, adding that it was made public only a week later and that the planned congress has been given almost no coverage in the republican media. The correspondent added that the decision to hold the second World Bashkir Congress in Bashkortostan was made six months before the event and was given broad coverage in the republican media.

Committee Planning Alternative Tatar Congress In Republic
Members of the public organizing committee of the congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan that was set up by representatives of Tatar civic groups announced that they have not given up on the idea of holding their own Tatar congress in the republic on 10 August, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 23 July. The public organizing committee was established before the official one that slated the republic's Tatar congress for 3 August.

EES Calls For Election Of New Board At Bashkirenergo
Russia's Unified Energy Systems (EES) is trying to get a majority on the board of directors of Bashkortostan's energy monopoly Bashkirenergo by arresting shares belonging to the Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya (Bashkir Fuel Company, BTK) and Bashneft, "Vedomosti" reported on 24 July.

EES asked the Bashkirenergo board on 23 July to call an extraordinary shareholders meeting. The board complied with the request, but an exact date for the meeting has not yet been set.

EES is demanding that the current board be dismissed and that a new board be elected, arguing that the election of the current board at the company's annual shareholders meeting earlier this year was illegal and that the work of several board members has been unsatisfactory.

The Russian energy provider is hoping that by electing more of its own members to the board, it will be able to force Bashkirenergo to repay its 880 million-ruble ($28 million) debt to the company. BTK and Bashneft currently have nine board members, whereas EES has only four.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova