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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 2, 2001

2 November 2001
Shaimiev Calls For Reform Of Federation Council
President Mintimer Shaimiev said he believes the founding principles of the Federation Council will be changed within two years, adding that its elections may be held simultaneously with the next State Duma elections, Interfax reported on 31 October. Shaimiev said the issue should not be postponed, since the legitimacy of the existing Federation Council is in doubt and its authority in society is ebbing away. He said the body is being filled with people who have no relation to the regions they represent, stressing that he foresaw such a development. Shaimiev suggested that senate candidates be nominated by the regional heads of legislative and executive authorities and then elected by the regions' voters. The Federation Council should not be politicized and divided into partisan groups like the Federation faction, he said, adding that the existing structure in forming the Federation Council is "the worst possible."

Moscow News Agency Assumes Shaimiev Agrees To Head Federation Council on 1 November interpreted President Shaimiev's interview with Interfax to be a sign of his readiness to become chairman of the Federation Council. The agency noted that Shaimiev has repeatedly expressed his viewpoint on the issue and the political novelty of his interview is connected with recent reports that Vladimir Putin has offered him the chairman's seat in the Federation Council.

The agency called it the first presentation of Shaimiev's conditions for trading in his president's role for that of council chairman. Shaimiev believes the Federation Council should increase its authority beyond what it had during the "late Yeltsin" period, said. If Putin makes Shaimiev the chairman, the news agency added, he will gain an experienced and diplomatic ally, deprive potential regional alliances of their leader, and smooth over heightening ethnic and religious tensions by demonstrating tolerance toward Russia's 13 million Muslims.

KamAZ, Kabardino-Balkaria Sign Cooperation Accord
KamAZ General Manager Ivan Kostin and Kabardino-Balkaria Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Maslov signed a cooperation agreement on 31 October, reported. The sides agreed to establish a KamAZ North-Caucasus automobile center in Nalchik with the participation of local Transagroservis and KamAZ-Don, located in Rostov-on-Don. The center is intended to sell and service KamAZ trucks in the Kabardino-Balkaria as well as neighboring republics and oblasts. In the first stage of joint-venture cooperation, KamAZ will deliver to Kabardino-Balkaria 200 Oka cars, 50 engines, and 50 NefAZ buses. Maslov said at the signing ceremony that relations between the sides "are growing on the beneficial soil of the friendship and economic cooperation treaty between Tatarstan and Kabardino-Balkaria."

Novgorod Governor Criticizes Kulikovo Battle Celebration
Visiting Chally on 31 October, Novgorod Oblast Governor Mikhail Prusak told reporters that an increasing number of military men among the ranks of governors and presidential envoys will "lead Russia to disintegration." He said five or six people are ruling Russia and they view regions merely as a separatist threat. Prusak criticized the celebration of the Russians' victory over Tatars in the battle of Kulikovo, saying that in response, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan should jointly celebrate the victory over Russians in the battle of Kalka.

Prusak-Led Party Has 200 Members In Tatarstan
Rashid Akhmetov, the leader of the Democratic Party of Russia in Tatarstan, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service that his party has some 200 members in the republic and plans to take part in the next elections of local administrations heads, in referendums, and in State Council elections.

Western Reporters Find 70 Taliban Supporters In Chally
Journalists from the Moscow offices of French and German TV and radio stations visited Chally to gauge the attitudes of local, national, and religious organizations to the U.S.-led antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan. In an interview with RFE/RL's Chally correspondent on 31 October, Deutschland Radio journalist Sabina Adler said they discovered about 70 followers of the Tatar Public Center in Chally who would like to join the Taliban in their struggle against the United States.

Tatar-inform reported the same day that officials from the Chally administration visited the TPC office and expressed extreme displeasure that Rafis Kashapov was being interviewed by foreign reporters. Valentina Nurmukhametova, the head of the administration's public relations board, suggested the journalists to "more broadly review life in Chally."

Leader Of Kazan Jewish Community Dies
Leonid Sonts, 56, the chairman of the Kazan Jewish community and the head of the ensemble Simkha, died of a heart attack on 1 November, Efir-inform reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliament Proceeds With Harmonization
The State Assembly on 1 November passed in its third reading a law on tax breaks for businesses in the "offshore zones" of Avangard and Bashselmash along with amendments to a law on construction and architecture, the presidential press service reported. Deputies approved in their second reading amendments to the legal procedure for renaming settlements, the legal status of administrative buildings, and on the state youth policy. The legislature passed in their first readings amendments to a state quality-control law on grain, state support for children's and youth organizations, and on social benefits for the disabled.

Bashkortostan's Trade Unions To Take Part In National Protest Action
Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation will join a Russia-wide protest being prepared by the Federation of Russia's Independent Trade Unions, Bashinform reported on 1 November. Trade Unions are calling on the Duma to pass amendments to the Labor Code abolishing a single social tax and are protesting against housing and municipal-services reforms in the absence of sufficient income growth.

Government Lauds Best Agricultural Producers
The cabinet presidium on 1 November passed a resolution to finance training specialists for rural areas from the republican budget, the presidential press service reported. The body named the Sterletamaq, Chekmagush, and Dyurtile Raions the winner of the economic competition and granted them 2 million ($67,000), 1.5 million, and 1 million rubles, respectively.

Criminal Case On $5 Million Embezzlement Filed With Court
The Prosecutor's Office has filed charges against seven people -- including the former head of Bashkir Airlines, Vilmir Gaziev, and the general manager of Bashimpeks, Nadir Valeev -- accusing them of embezzling $5 million from the republic's budget, RIA-Novosti reported on 1 November. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Relations and Trade Minister Rafil Garifullin, along with his former deputy and current Bashprombank Chairman Leonid Gafarov, have both testified during the year-long investigation. Prosecutors said none of those charged has been detained: Four have pledged not to flee while three others have posted bail.

Russian Agriculture Minister Visits Ufa
Aleksei Gordeev, Russia's deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, arrived in Ufa on 1 November for a two-day visit, reported. He is due to hand out awards from his ministry to agricultural-sector workers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova