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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 21, 2002

21 October 2002
Unified Russia Officials Visit Kazan
At a press conference in Kazan on 18 October, Sergei Popov, a member of the General Council of Unified Russia, suggested that the barrier for election to the Russian State Duma on party lists be raised from 5 percent to 12.5 percent, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Popov said that parties would be able to surpass this barrier "if they unite" prior to elections.

Meanwhile, another member of the party's General Council, Frants Klintsevich, said "the majority of the 31 parties currently registered in Russia would not be able to overcome the [12.5 percent] margin that we have proposed."

Unified Russia officials have also suggested that the heads of regional and municipal administrations be elected by a majority of the electorate as opposed to a simple majority of those turning out to vote. Also on 18 October, officials from Unified Russia met with the heads of the party's branch in Kazan to discuss the party's policies regarding industrial development.

Tatar, Federal Officials Take Part In Bridge Opening...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Russian Transportation Minister Sergei Frank, and Russian State Property Minister Farid Gazizullin took part in the official opening of the bridge over the Kama River at Saeskan Tau-Murzikha on 18 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. In their speeches at the event, Shaimiev and Frank emphasized the economic and social importance on the bridge, which connects the west and east of Tatarstan and establishes a direct route from Samara to Orenburg, connecting the Samara, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, and Nizhnii Novgorod oblasts, as well as the republics of Bashkortostan, Chavashia, and Marii El.

...And Sign Treaty On Federal Assistance In Transportation Sector
Also on 18 October, Frank and Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov signed a cooperation agreement between the federal Transportation Ministry and the republic on "ensuring the safe operation and stable development of Tatarstan's transportation sector," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 21 October.

Interior Ministry Troops Shipped To Chechnya
The Tatar Interior Ministry sent 100 of its officers to Shelkovskoi Raion in Chechnya on 19 October to replace an equal number of Tatar police officers who have been serving there since April, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 21 October. The officers, who are charged with securing public order in the breakaway republic, are also taking humanitarian aid collected in Tatarstan.

Professional Army Service Attracting Few Candidates In Republic
A representative of the Tatar Military Commissioner's Office, Ildar Biktemirov, told a press conference on 19 October that since 1997 only 265 residents of Tatarstan have signed contracts to serve in the Russian Army, Intertat reported the same day. Professional soldiers from the republic have served in Chechnya, Tajikistan, and Abkhazia, where four of them have been killed and 80 wounded, while only two of the soldiers have had their contracts cancelled for failing to fulfil their duties.

Biktemirov said that on average, a professional soldier in the Russian Army earns from 2,800 to 3,000 rubles ($88-94) per month and also receives free medicinal spa treatments.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Moscow, Ufa To Cooperate In Transport Sector
The Russian Transport Ministry will do everything possible for Bashkortostan to win the lawsuit against dispatchers from the Swiss air-traffic-control service Skyguide in connection with the 1 July midair collision involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger Tu-154 and a DHL cargo Boeing 757 over southern Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July and 16 October 2002), Minister Sergei Frank said on 19 October, Bashinform reported the same day.

During his one-day visit to Ufa, Frank signed with Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov a cooperation agreement on securing the safe functioning and stable development of the transport sector in Bashkortostan. Frank praised Bashkortostan's contribution to the general development of the transport sector in Russia and outlined aviation and road construction as being of priority for the republic. The main result of the visit was a decision by both sides about the joint management of Bashkir Airlines by the federal and Bashkir governments, "Kommersant" reported on 21 October.

Details Of Power Sharing In New Draft Constitution
Th "presidential" concept has been removed from the new draft Bashkir Constitution (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 17 October 2002), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 October. In accordance with the federal law on general principles of the formation of authority bodies of federation subjects, the head of the government elected by popular vote will head the republic's executive branch. Powers of the latter will be restricted as compared to those of the president.

To establish new ministries and abolish those existing or to appoint deputy premiers and ministers, the prime minister will need his proposals to be approved by the parliament, while currently those functions are the exclusive powers of the president. At the same time, the prime minister can dissolve the parliament if the parliament passes laws or legal acts contradicting the Russian or Bashkir constitutions or federal laws and that fact is confirmed in court while the legislature refuses to implement a court decision for six months.

The parliament will also be able to dismiss the prime minister in case he makes a decision contradicting the Russian or Bashkir constitutions or laws and does not change it within a month after a corresponding court ruling. The prime minister can also be dismissed if he commits violations of federal law, the Russian Constitution, Russian presidential decrees, or federal government resolutions and those violations result in mass restrictions of citizens' rights and freedoms. In the latter case, no court decision is necessary for the dismissal, according to the draft constitution. The parliament will also be able to dismiss any other government member.

Bashkir Media Back Power Reform
Numerous Bashkir media outlets have published articles lauding the plan to establish a parliamentary republic in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 20 October. Specifically, Agrarian Party in Bashkortostan Chairman Enwer Tuqtamyshev told the "Bashkortostan" daily on 16 October: "A parliamentary republic should also have its head. It does not matter how he is called. In that post as well, I [would like to] see a person who knows well the republic and contributed much to its development -- Murtaza Rakhimov."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova