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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 11, 2002

11 September 2002
Supreme Court Denies Protest Of Constitutional Provisions
The Tatar Supreme Court rejected on 10 September the challenge by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev in which he accused the Tatar State Council of avoiding the implementation of several court decisions, reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 9 September and 24 July 2002). In his protest, Zvyagintsev claimed the Tatar legislature did not implement decisions made by the Russian and Tatar supreme courts and by the Russian Constitutional Court concerning the old and new versions of the republic's constitution.

The protest arose when a number of provisions that had been determined to be in contradiction to federal legislation were maintained in the revised version of the Tatar Constitution, such as rules regarding military service, the republic's court of arbitration, the activities of prosecutors, the requirement that republican presidential candidates speak both Russian and Tatar, and the claim of Tatar sovereignty.

Zvyagintsev claimed in his protest that the State Council created obstacles to the implementation of powers by federal authorities and organs of local self-government, and also that the rights and freedoms of citizens and the interests of legal persons had been violated.

At the hearing on 10 September, Tatar prosecutor Kafil Amirov, who was representing the position of the federal government, was unable to list any specific consequences of the challenged constitutional provisions, the agency reported. On the other hand, Midkhet Qormanov, head of the State Council Committee on Legislation, Legality, Regulations, and Ethics, who was representing the Tatar parliament, said the State Council doesn't have to prove that it is not in violation of federal legislation in accordance with the presumption of innocence.

State Council representatives also argued that Zvyagintsev filed his protest before the expiration of the term of six months allowed for the implementation of court decisions.

Amirov said that he plans to appeal to ruling.

President Calls For Solution To Passport Issue
While speaking to a group of visiting foreign journalists in Kazan on 10 September, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev commented on the controversy surrounding the desire by Muslim women in Russia to have their passport photographs taken while wearing traditional Muslim headscarves (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 6 September 2002). The Tatar president said that, "If the Russian Constitution has an article regarding freedom of conscience, then people have the right to [exercise that right]." He added that simply forbidding women from covering their heads while having passport photographs taken cannot be the final solution to this problem. Shaimiev said that the issue needs to be resolved either by providing a reasonable answer as to why this practice should be forbidden or else by permitting it.

Asked about whether the prohibition was part of a spread of anti-Islamic sentiment throughout the world following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Shaimiev said that: "Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the tragedy that has echoed with pain in our hearts. I think terrorism has no nationality or religious faith. We should [look at the issue of passport photographs] from this point of view. Terrorism should be condemned unconditionally...but all Muslims should not suffer for [the 11 September terrorist attacks]."

Chelyabinsk Oblast Hosts Days Of Tatarstan
Chelyabinsk Oblast is hosting a Days of Tatarstan festival, reported on 9 September. An official delegation from the republic headed by President Shaimiev is scheduled to arrive in Chelyabinsk Oblast on 13 September. Shaimiev is due to meet with Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Petr Sumin, to attend an exhibition called Industry of Tatarstan, and to meet with representatives of the local Tatar diaspora. Shaimiev also plans to visit the Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory and to take part in celebrations of Chelyabinsk's 266th anniversary.

Some 70 Tatar companies will present their wares at the Industry of Tatarstan exhibition from 10-14 September, while individual entrepreneurs from the two regions will hold meetings on 11-12 September. In addition, the festival will host exhibitions devoted to various aspects of Tatarstan and meetings for writers and composers from both regions.

Chelyabinsk Oblast is Tatarstan's fifth-largest trade partner with turnover in 2001 between the two regions totaling 3 billion rubles ($95 million), or 3.8 percent of Tatarstan's total trade with subjects of the Russian Federation. Some 300,000 Tatars live in the oblast, which has a total population of 3.6 million.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Congress Chief Comments On Kazan Gathering
In an interview with Bashinform on 10 September, the head of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan, Eduard Khemitov, praised the recent World Tatar Congress that was held in Kazan on 28-29 August for what he called its good organization, and he also said that the official delegation from Bashkortostan was warmly greeted by congress delegates. Khemitov added that the roundtable discussions and the congress plenary session "paid special attention to the friendship and relations between two brotherly peoples, Bashkirs and Tatars."

Khemitov also commented on controversial statements made by congress delegate Nurmokhemmet Khoseyenov during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 September 2002). Khemitov said there was "an incident where one of the congress participants from Belebey took the liberty to speak on behalf of [all of] Bashkortostan's Tatars. [Khoseyenov] made a provocative, absolutely unfounded statement about the life of Tatars in Bashkortostan...[and] the Russian president didn't pay special attention to this episode, having understood the absurdity of his statement."

Khemitov added that both he and Bashkir State Assembly deputy Ramil Bignov have been elected to the congress's Executive Committee.

Duma Deputy Comments On Federal-Budget Debate
In an interview published in "Respublika Bashkortostan" daily on 11 September, Russian State Duma Deputy from Bashkortostan Zeynulla Bagishaev, member of the Fatherland-All Russia faction, said that "when considering the draft federal budget for 2003, [Duma] deputies should take into account not only the needs of Russia's financially self-sufficient regions but also the interests of donor regions."

Bashkir Helicopter Plant Signs Deal To Produce Rotor Blades
The Kamov helicopter-production company has authorized Bashkortostan's Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise to manufacture the materials used in the rotor blades of all of Kamov's light helicopters, as well as for the rotor blades used in Russia's most sophisticated helicopter gunships, the Ka-60, Ka-50, and Ka-52, RosBalt reported on 10 September. The Kumertau plant also reportedly signed a deal to build the first unmanned helicopter in Russia.

RosBalt reported that the Kumertau plant has increased its production over the past two years from three helicopters in 2000 to an expected nine by the end of this year. The agency added that South Korea is the major buyer of Bashkortostan-produced helicopters, with 40 currently in use and plans to purchase 60 more by 2010.

Bashkortostan's Muslims To Hold Congress
The heads of all Muslim communities in Bashkortostan plan to gather for a congress in Ufa on 2 November to hold elections for chairman of the republic's Muslim Religious Board, reported on 10 September.

The board's current chairman, Nurmokhemmet Nigmetullin, has held the post for 10 years already. His challengers at the November congress will reportedly be the imam of the Beloretsk, Uchali, and Burzyan regions of Bashkortostan, Ismagyil Mokhemedjanov, and Ildar Malakhov, rector of the Meriyem Soltanova Islamic Institute.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi