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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 7, 2002

7 November 2002
Shaimiev Marks 10th Anniversary Of Tatar Constitution...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev addressed the residents of the republic on the 10th anniversary of the passing of the Tatar Constitution on 6 November, republican media reported the same day. Shaimiev said the past decade was an era of "exceptional importance for Tatarstan's multinational people," during which republican status was granted, key principles of economic policy were determined, and the foundations for developing multinational culture were laid. The Tatar president said that in accordance with the constitution, the majority of Soviet property that was located in the republic stayed there and was then privatized in the interest of the republic's residents. As a result, Shaimiev said, Tatarstan has occupied a leading position in Russia in terms of economic development and wages. Shaimiev also said that the constitution played an important role in reviving the Tatar language and Tatar culture, including a revival of the system of Tatar education and of Tatar-language mass media.

The Tatar president said he took special pride in the peace that exists in the republic among members of different ethnic groups and faiths, saying that with increasing tensions between Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the world, Tatarstan represents a real model of concord among people of different cultures and religions. Shaimiev also said that terrorism cannot be justified regardless of its motives, adding that the reasons that give rise to terrorism should be eliminated first. He also stressed that terrorism should not be linked to Islam.

Shaimiev also said that Tatarstan made a large contribution to the establishment of federalism in Russia and to the process of power sharing between the federal government and subjects of the federation.

...As Does Former Parliamentary Speaker
Russia's permanent representative to the European Union, Vasilii Likhachev, sent a message to Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin to mark the anniversary of the introduction of the Tatar Constitution, republican media reported on 6 November. Likhachev, who is a former parliamentary speaker of Tatarstan and one of the authors of the 1992 Tatar Constitution, said that Tatarstan's experience over the past decade in the sphere of political and socioeconomic development has contributed to the formation of Russia's regions and the strengthening of relations between federal authorities and federation subjects, as well as among the peoples living in them. Likhachev said, "Tatarstan has its own face and character, which is known in Europe and throughout the world, which is [one of the biggest] achievements of the past decade."

Senator Says Fate Of Tatar Constitution Should Be Resolved By Constitutional Court
Tatarstan's member in the Russian Federation Council, Refqet Altynbaev, who is also chairman of the Committee on Issues of Local Self-Government, told on 6 November that "only the Russian Constitutional Court can decide whether the Tatar Constitution conforms to federal legislation." He said the Russian presidential administration's legal directorate, which performed an expert study of the newly adopted Tatar Constitution, is not the final institution that knows what should be in the constitution of a subject of the Russian Federation.

Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev has contested some 50 articles of the new constitution in the Tatar Supreme Court (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 September 2002).

Tatneft Shows Poor Economic Indicators In First Half Of 2002
Following the release of its midyear report, analysts are giving Tatneft mixed reviews, "Vedomosti" reported on 6 November. During the first half of 2002, the value of Tatneft shares fell by 2.62 percent to $0.78 per share on the Russian stock market, the paper wrote. Net profits also decreased 250 percent in comparison with the same period of 2001 to 6.71 billion rubles ($211.2 million), while revenues decreased by 16.1 percent to 63.18 billion rubles. The daily cited an unidentified source in the company who said that Tatneft was facing troubles because of low oil prices in the first three months of the year. "We do not have our own refinery, so we suffer from a sharp decrease in [oil] prices more than others," the source said, adding that the first stage of the construction of the Tuben Kama oil refinery is scheduled to be completed this year.

Pavel Kushnir, an analyst with the United Financial Group, told "Vedomosti" that Tatneft's income per barrel before repayment of profit tax, interest, and amortization totaled $3.60, while the same indicator for Sibneft was $8.90, Yukos $7.10, and LUKoil $6.10. Kushnir added that the planned introduction of an oil-quality bank by Russian state oil network Transneft will likely even worsen Tatneft's financial situation, as the company will see some $80 million in additional expenses as a result.

Meanwhile, Renaissance Capital's Vladislav Metnev said Tatneft succeeded in reducing its debt by $220 million to $650 million in the first six months of the year, and it also accumulated $357 million in its bank accounts, which, Metnev said, shows that the company's financial position is improving.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Parliamentarian Comments On State Reform...
The deputy chairman of the Bashkir State Council's Chamber of Representatives, Minnireis Ishmoratov, told a press conference on 6 November that republic's new constitution will be adopted by 30 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Ishmoratov also commented on planned changes to the republic's state system that would see the abolishment of the presidency. "In the early 1990s, the presidency was important to upgrade the republic's status, and [Bashkortostan's] first president, Murtaza Rakhimov, succeeded in consolidating our society during the difficult period of the creation of a new Russian state. Nevertheless, recent socioeconomic and legal changes at the federal level require changes in the subjects of the federation," Ishmoratov said, adding that the change to a parliamentary system would make the government more "popularly based." He added that the new parliament will have only one chamber with 120 deputies, 25 or 30 of whom will be professional legislators, while the others are to be elected representatives of the republic's territories.

...And Suggests Rakhimov Will Stay In Power Following Changes...
Ishmoratov also said that he thought it was important that President Rakhimov become prime minister following the change to a parliamentary system of government. He said he couldn't see any reasons for disorder should Rakhimov become prime minister, saying that "the people trust the president, who was the first person to suggest changing the state system in the republic."

...And Says New Independent Monitoring Agency To Be Established
Ishmoratov also told the press conference that the new constitution would establish an independent body to monitor the implementation of the budget and the management of state property by the cabinet.

Ufa-Based Muslim Leader Issues Statement In Honor Of Ramadan
The head of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia and the European Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Telget Tajetdin, has issued a statement devoted to the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 6 November. In the statement, Tajetdin expressed hope that "this month of fasting will soften people's hearts and lead to greater mutual understanding." He also urged civilians and separatist forces in Chechnya to "honor the holiness of Ramadan," which prohibits sins. Tajetdin also appealed to U.S. President George W. Bush, urging him to "realize his responsibility for the fate of the world, about which he speaks so often, and to avoid undertaking any dangerous or risky steps in relation to Iraq." He also called for United Nations-led negotiations between the United States and Iraq to resolve current tensions.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi