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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 18, 2001

18 January 2001
Hearing on Tatarstan Constitution Postponed
The Tatarstan Supreme Court on 17 January postponed until 6 February a hearing on the protest by Russian Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Volga Federal District Aleksandr Zvyagintsev against several articles of the republic constitution, Tatar-inform reported. Alevtina Safronova, a lawyer representing the Tatarstan State Council, asked for the delay because she said that Russian prosecutors have not yet responded to Tatarstan Parliament Speaker Farid Mukhametshin's appeal for the withdrawal of Zvyagintsev's objections. Meanwhile, Tatarstan Supreme Court chairman Gennady Baranov said that he considers "incorrect" the statement of the republic Constitutional Court [see the 17 January report] that the case should be taken up only by the Russian Constitutional Court.

Tatarstan Boosts Ties with Iran�
An Iranian delegation on 17 January met with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev to discuss expanding cooperation in culture and construction, Tatar-inform reported. Shaimiev thanks the visitors for their efforts and asked them to express his appreciation to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. He added that he backs the idea of opening an Iranian cultural center in Kazan.

�As Premier Completes Visit to Iraq
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov discussed developing the Iraqi oil industry while on a three-day visit to Baghdad, the Tatarstan cabinet press service reported on 17 January. The Iraqis expressed interest in Tatarstan's shipbuilding yards, aircraft companies, and KamAZ.

Moscow to Finance Kazan Anniversary
Russian State Construction Committee chairman Anvar Shamuzafarov on 17 January said that federal budget will allocate one billion rubles ($38 million) to help prepare for Kazan's celebration of its millenium. He said that Moscow would also give priority to construction of the city's subway system because of the jubilee.

Shaimiev Scores Ministry for Failing to Stop Organized Crime
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 17 January sharply criticized the republic's interior ministry for its ineffectiveness in fighting organized crime, Tatar media reported. He told the ministry's leaders that organized criminal groups have too much support in legislative and executive institutions and said that the 70,000 crimes registered in 2000 were "too much." Interior Minister Asgat Safarov said that 61 organized groups involving some 2,500 criminals control all entertainment institutions and are seeking to purchase shares in large companies.

Nationalists Want Future President To Form Idel-Ural Confederation
Tatarstan's moderate nationalist political movement Idel-Ural on 17 January called on the residents of the republic to support a presidential candidate who among other things will defend Tatarstan's sovereignty and seek to form an Idel-Ural confederatin, Tatar-inform reported. The group also called for the creation of an independent educational system, the rapid introduction of the Latin script alphabet, and improving economic conditions for all people in Tatarstan.

By Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Set to Add Words to Anthem
Following a six month competition in which more than 80 different sets of lyrics have been proposed, Deputy Prime Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov who heads the state commission in charge of drafting words for the republic's anthem, said on 17 January that his group would soon be submitted to the State Assembly and the people, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported.

Harmonization Process Continues
The State Assembly will now discuss a draft law on judicial bodies in the republic and amend legislation on national-cultural associations, education, timber and family issues at a 18 January plenary session as part of the legal harmonization process, Bashinform reported.

Bashkir Tour Operators Angry by New Russian Taxes
Bashkortostan's major tour operators on 17 January sharply criticized a Russian tax change that had increased the price of tours by 20 percent in January, Bashinform reported. They said that the new tax code will hurt the local economy and lead people to travel only to Moscow.

Republic Apothecaries Lack Needed Medications
Bashkortostan's State Control Committee on 17 January said that people with disabilities cannot get all the medicines they need at local drug stores, Bashinform reported, adding that local budgets do not have the money to improve the situation.

By Gulnara Khasanova