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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 29, 2002

29 October 2002
Speaker Comments On Draft Federal Laws On Regional, Local Authority Bodies
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin left for Strasbourg on 28 October to take part in a session of a Council of Europe working group, reported the same day. Mukhametshin, who heads the commission on local self-government of the Union of Legislators of Russia, is to deliver a report on draft laws that will be subjected to expert review at the session -- on general principles of the formation of local self-government in the Russian Federation, and on general principles of the formation of legislative and executive bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation subjects. Mukhametshin said the first draft is "not bad" and only several details should be clarified before it will be introduced to the State Duma.

Mukhametshin said representatives from Tatarstan and President Mintimer Shaimiev actively participated in developing the drafts. Mukhametshin added that, since local self-government will be introduced as of 1 January 2006 according to the draft law on general principles of the formation of local self-government, currently existing local self-government bodies should be recognized as legal and should not be contested in court.

Mukhametshin said in many articles of the second draft, federal bodies encroach upon powers of federation subjects provided by the Russian Constitution. He said the draft includes a provision intended to strengthen vertical power, according to which heads of federation subjects elected by popular vote can be dismissed. Mukhametshin said the provision violates the rights of people and proposed an amendment, saying that officials elected by popular vote can be dismissed only by the people that elected them. He said Tatarstan's leaders insist some of their other proposals to the draft also be taken into account before the draft is introduced to the State Duma, or the Tatar State Council will advance a legislative initiative to amend the law.

World Islamic League Head Meets Tatar Officials, Visits Russian Islamic University
Meeting with Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov during his 26-27 October visit to Kazan, Secretary-General of the World Islamic League Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin at-Turki expressed his condolences to relatives of victims of the Moscow hostage crisis, Tatar-inform reported on 28 October. He said Islam is a religion of peace and those who capture and kill peaceful residents are not true Muslims. The two also discussed the activity of the Russian Islamic University, the only Islamic higher-education institution in Russia.

At-Turki criticized the position of some Russian media outlets that equate Islam with terrorism. He said such a point of view can be the result of either ignorance or the intention to discredit Islam. At-Turki met also with presidential adviser and presidential International Affairs Department Director Timur Akulov and Council on Religions Affairs Chairman Renat Nabiev. At-Turki also visited the Russian Islamic University and met with its rector, Tatar Mufti Gosman Iskhaqov. The World Islamic League, an independent international nongovernmental organization, was established in 1962 to propagate Islam, defend the interests of Muslim peoples, and satisfy their educational, cultural, and social needs.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim Seeks New Export Route
The petrochemical company Nizhnekamskneftekhim and the Russian finance and industry group Interkhimprom signed a protocol to establish a joint venture to construct a transshipment terminal for petrochemical production in the Caucasus port, reported on 28 October citing "Vedomosti". The facility that will cost $20 million to $30 million will be able to reload some 300,000 tons of petrochemical production a year. The Caucasus port is located near the border of the Azov and Black seas in the area of the Kerch Channel. Interkhimprom General Director Boris Titov told the daily that the new terminal will become the first specialized chemical terminal in the Russian area of water on the Black Sea coast. Currently Nizhnekamskneftekhim exports its production to Mediterranean countries either through Finland or by railway transport. The petrochemical concern exports some 400,000 tons of production a year.

TIU Calls For Settling Chechen Issue Peacefully
The Tatar Public Center (TIU) issued a statement saying that taking hostages in Moscow cannot be called a human step, Tatar-inform reported on 28 October. TIU always was and remains an adherent of the peaceful and political solution of the Chechen issue, and this approach should be applied to settling all similar problems in the world, the statement said. The statement proposes dispersing Russian troops and Chechen military units under monitoring by international observers, promoting international humanitarian aid for the people of Chechnya, and signing a peace agreement.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir President Satisfied With Results Of The Hostage-Freeing Raid
President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 28 October that he was "satisfied with the liberation of the hostages and prevention of the mass deaths of innocent people," especially in reference to the great risk of "tragic and unpredictable results of this situation."

On the behalf of his republic's people, Rakhimov said "Bashkortostan approves of the interior and foreign policies of the Russian president" and "unconditionally supported the measures of the law enforcement bodies, terrorists.

"We revere the courage and staunchness of our citizens, who were taken hostage and the high professionalism of special service troops, medical workers, and many other specialists who risked their lives saving the people."

He added: "The 23-26 October events in Moscow should become one more insistent call for vigilance, solidarity, and consolidation of our entire society and further strengthening of the Russian federative state."

Bashkortostan's Intelligentsia Discusses Moscow Terrorist Act
The Tatar philology chair researcher at Bashkir State University, Lilie Zagyidullina, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 28 October that she "is personally against terrorism as a way of solving issues, because it will never bring positive results." She continued by stating that the Moscow situation was an echo of the Chechen war and if the situation is not dealt with appropriately, the consequences may be even more terrifying.

She also stated her embarrassment for Russia and her sorrow for "both terrorists and hostages, because they are all victims of 'the system.' Terrorists are the hostages of their ideas, while hostages were the victims of Russia's policies towards Chechnya."

Zagyidullina also expressed concern about the government's reluctance in naming the gas that was used in the 26 October predawn raid. "This is not the first time the facts have been hidden. We still remember the 'Kursk' submarine tragedy."

Ildus Fazyltdinov, a Tatar poet and the secretary of the Tatar "Tulpar" magazine published in Bashkortostan told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 28 October that he supported Russia's use of force in freeing the hostages. He contended that terrorism "cannot be used for solving the political issues. If [the negotiators] gave in to the terrorists in any way this would encourage hostage takings across Russia and terrorists would make greater demands."

"There can be no double standards in assessing terrorism: having condemned the 11 September attack on the United States by Arab terrorists, we cannot back the Chechen terrorists who made innocent people their hostages in the center of Moscow," Fazyltdinov continued.

"On the other hand it is evident that the rescue operation was not well thought over, as each day we count more and more losses among those freed. Former hostages are unable to see their relatives and the Russians have not admitted which gas was used in the attack. Therefore, it is impossible to treat the patients properly," Fazylitdinov said.

Bashkir Paper Hints At That The Hostage Taking Was A Result Of War In Chechnya
Bashkortostan's daily "Yeshlek" published an article titled "If you sow war, you will harvest terrorism," summing up the consequences of the Moscow hostage taking on 28 October. The article posed questions regarding the outcome of the recent hostage situation in Moscow. "Can we consider the Moscow developments a war? If so, where is its front line? This war makes all of us hostages, including the hostage takers and the Russian president, not only the hundreds of people who were held captive in Moscow."

The article also noted that Moscow is currently "far from peacefully solving the Chechen problem."

Interior Ministry, Medics Maintain High Alertness Mode Of Service
In the wake of last week's hostage crisis in Moscow, Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry and the Disasters Medicine Service are currently operating in emergency mode, which is to last for an unspecified period of time, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi