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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 6, 2002

6 December 2002
Shaimiev Unhappy With Duma Move To Change Status Of Federation Council Senators
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 4 December that the adoption by the State Duma of amendments to the federal law on the status of Federation Council members in the first reading is legislative tyranny. Shaimiev said the Federal Assembly, under the Russian law, can only adopt laws regarding the order of the formation of the upper chamber, while its powers are clearly defined in Article 102 of the Russian Constitution. Shaimiev noted that determination by the State Duma of the rights of regional representatives to the Federation Council is the grossest violation of the regions' rights as federation subjects. "The smallest change of principles existing in the current law is a crying illegality aimed at restricting the rights of federation subjects. If those amendments become law we will recall our representatives as being of no use, as they won't be able to defend the interests of the republic," Shaimiev argued.

The amendments to the law on the status of Federation Council members and State Duma deputies provides that bodies which delegate senators to the Federation Council cannot recall them during the first year of service and without the approval of two-thirds of the Federation Council.

Shaimiev said he has no doubt that the amendments were initiated by the Federation Council members themselves, who, he said, "forgot in a short time about their predestination and wish to be independent from federation subjects that delegated them to the Federation Council." "On the other hand, this is an attempt of certain political forces to make Federation Council members dependant on the federal executive and deprive them of the possibility to defend the interests of federation subjects. This is an encroachment on the foundations of the federation in Russia which is a federal state," Shaimiev said. He praised the position of both right-wing and left-wing constructive forces in the State Duma which strongly opposed the amendments. At the same time, Shaimiev said he regrets the position in support of the amendments taken by the Unity faction.

Tatar Ombudsman Appeals To Russian Counterpart Against Cyrillic-Only Law
Tatar Human Rights Commissioner Reshit Wegyizov sent Russian Ombudsman Oleg Mironov his resolution in which he said the rights of the Tatar people will be violated if the amendment to the law on the languages of the peoples of Russia on mandatory use of the Cyrillic script by all state languages in Russia becomes law, reported on 5 December. Wegyizov called on the Russian ombudsman to appeal to the Russian president, who is a guarantor of the Russian Constitution and human rights and freedoms, to reject the amendment.

Wegyizov said that according to Article 68 of the Russian Constitution, republics can establish their state languages, while the federation guarantees all the peoples the right to preserve their native language and create conditions for its study and development. Wegyizov said the amendment violates international legal agreements ratified by Russia, including the International Pact on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights; the Framework Convention on Defense of National Minorities; the Declaration on Rights of Members of National, Ethnic, Religious, or Language Minorities; the Convention of the Commonwealth of Independent States on Human Rights and Basic Freedoms; the protocol to the European Convention On Defense of Rights and Basic Freedoms; and the European Charter on Regional and Minorities' Languages.

Court Rules That Controversial Orthodox Church Constructed Illegally
The Chally City Court annulled on 4 December the 1994 resolution of the Chally administration head on allotting a plot of land for the construction of the St. Tatyana Orthodox Church near Victory Park, and reported on 5 December. Three Chally women -- Nionella Fazlyeva, Marzyia Shakirova, and Asiya Zinnurova -- in October vandalized the church under construction (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, and 31 October, 4 and 25 November 2002), arguing that construction of an Orthodox church near the park commemorating World War II veterans belonging to different faiths is a violation of the rights of non-Orthodox believers.

After they were arrested for vandalism, the women filed suit against the city administration, which they contend violated the city construction plan, according to which an entertainment center was to be built on that site. The women also demanded that the court force all officials involved "to stop evoking national and religious hatred among peoples and force the city administration to allot another plot of land for the construction of the church that would not violate the city construction plan." The court has ruled in their favor.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa-Based Muslim Leader Denounces Religious Extremism During Holiday Service...
Telget Tajetdin, chairman of the Central Muslim Religious Board of Russia and the European part of CIS countries, led a ceremonial holiday prayer in Ufa's main mosque, Lyalya-Tulpan, on 5 December to mark the Uraza beirem holiday and the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. In his speech at the event, Tajetdin spoke about the importance of Muslim traditions and passed on best wishes from Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President George W. Bush, and top Bashkir officials to the Muslims of Russia. Tajetdin said that in modern Russia "there exist no obstacles for living in accordance with the creator's commandments." Remembering the recent hostage-taking crisis in Moscow, he denounced Islamic extremists "who oppose the peaceful confessions, including traditional Islam."

...Reminds Of Patriotic Values In The Holiday Greeting Message
In his greeting message to the Muslims of Russia delivered on 4 December, Tajetdin added the traditional wishes of health and happiness with the blessing for the people's "noble labor for the sake of spiritual and moral prosperity of our Fatherland," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported yesterday.

Trade Unions Worried About Moscow's Plans To Limit Social Security For State Employees
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov met the leaders of Bashkortostan's trade unions of state-sector employees on 4 December, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day. The Trade Unions are reportedly worried about the draft concept of reforming the system of wages payment to state employees that has been discussed by the Russian government and objected to by the federation-wide trade unions.

The draft concept would give responsibility for the payments from Moscow to the federation's entities and bodies of local self-government.

Bashkortostan's trade unions also expressed concern about the intentions of the Russian government to reduce certain social benefits for state education and culture sectors employees.

Baidavletov admitted during the conversation that his government could not unilaterally resolve this situation "due to strict centralization," which results in more than half of Bashkortostan's funds to be transferred to Moscow. Nevertheless, he pledged that the republican government would ensure the timely payment of wages to state employees.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi