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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 21, 2001

21 December 2001
President Shaimiev Says 11 September Not Swaying Religious Preferences...
President Mintimer Shaimiev told TV and radio broadcaster Mir that events in Afghanistan are not swaying Russians' religious beliefs, since most have spent many years in an atheistic society. Shaimiev's interview was reprinted by Tatarstan newspapers on 20 December.

The president said he thought the events of 11 September had brought Russia closer to both the United States and the Commonwealth of Independent States. He also praised U.S. President George W. Bush for his repeated statements that terrorism should not be linked to Islam. But Russia should not agree to a pro-American government in Kabul, citing the regional effect of such a move. Afghans should be allowed to resolve their fate themselves, he added.

...And Expresses Skepticism Of Presidential Envoys, National Policy Minister
In the same interview, Shaimiev again criticized the institution of presidential envoys, charging it is inefficient and lacking in constitutional support. A territorial department headed by the Russian president could better execute envoys' functions, he added. Shaimiev also stressed the need to strictly share powers at all levels.

Shaimiev said national issues should fall under the powers of the Russian president, rather than the government or other bodies, so newly appointed ministers should work in close contact with the president and his administration. He said the abolished National Policies Ministry was a "senseless" body. He also called "impossible" in a multi-ethnic state a resolution issued by that ministry to abolish use of non-Russian languages in administration.

Putin Reportedly Unhappy With New Draft Of Tatarstan Constitution
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 20 December cited an unidentified source as saying that Russian Constitutional Court members were divided over a challenge to the Tatarstan Constitution. Six expressed a separate opinion to declare major differences in voter numbers between electoral districts a minor contradiction with the federal constitution. RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day that the Constitutional Court will not issue any decisions on the Tatarstan Constitution in the remainder of this year; Tatarstan's State Council will next convene in early 2002.

"Zvezda Povolzhya" meanwhile reported that President Vladimir Putin was clearly displeased when shown a new draft of the Tatarstan Constitution. The Russian president demanded that the republic's constitution strictly conform to federal legislation and leave out any mention of sovereignty.

Moscow Said To Be Taking New Tack To Avoid Ethnically Based States
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 20 December referred to a concept of federalism of the "American kind" developed by National Policy Minister Vladimir Zorin and the director of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute, Valerii Tishkov. Under their concept, no one ethnic group would be allowed to have its own state. Also, all the "mistakes" and indulgences of the past decade must be radically removed in order to block attempts to establish such states. Moscow's new approach reportedly takes into account the experience of the USSR's disintegration and is intended to reduce room for conflict. Following that concept, Moscow nipped in the bud Tatarstan's efforts to promote its president, Mintimer Shaimiev, as a leader of all Tatars in Russia, the weekly said.

FSB In Tatarstan Marks Professional Holiday By Deporting Suspected Extremist
Major General Aleksandr Gusev, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board in Tatarstan, said on 20 December that a citizen of Yemen, Akhmed Yasin, was deported from Russia several days earlier at the request of the republican body. The news came during an interview with "Respublika Tatarstan" on 20 December devoted to the annual holiday devoted to security bodies employees. The Yemeni man, reportedly a member of the Taiba organization, which is banned in Russia, was sowing religious discord and propagating of Wahhabism in Tatarstan, Gusev said. Ten extremists have been deported in the past five years on the request of the FSB in Tatarstan.

Tatneft Signs $1 Million Contract With Iran
Tatneft and the Iranian Institute of Petrol Industry signed a $1 million contract in Tehran to conduct technology tests for improvement of oil-wells' output, Solid-info reported on 20 December. Tatneft Deputy General Manager Khamit Kaveev said his company will provide equipment, materials, and know-how to the Iranian side under the two-year contract.

Meanwhile, Tatneft General Manager Shafagat Takhautdinov said his company will maintain its investment level of 17 billion rubles (about $561 million), despite a fall in world oil prices, reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir, Tatar Presidents Awarded For Providing Peace, Harmony
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov and Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev were named winners of the annual Russia-wide Career-2001 award conducted by the "Chelovek i kar'era" newspaper, Rosbalt reported on 20 December. The two leaders were praised for their efforts in providing peace and harmony. Bashkortostan State Assembly Speaker Konstantin Tolkachev, Sterletamaq Mayor Spartak Akhmetov, Presidential envoy to the southern district Viktor Kazantsev, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Gazprom Board head Aleksei Miller are on the list of more than 100 prizewinners.

Rakhimov was the same day granted a Business-Olymp award for his "outstanding contribution to the socio-economic development and support for businesses in the region."

Energy Companies Win Further Round In Dispute With UES
A Bashkortostan arbitration court has dismissed a 520 million ruble ($17 million) claim against Bashkirenergo by Russia's United Energy Systems (UES), "Vedomosti" reported on 20 December. A Moscow arbitration court on 6 December had rejected a 1 billion ruble ($33 million) UES claim against Irkutskenergo. Both companies, along with Tatenergo, have challenged UES-imposed subscriber's fees with mixed results.

Nureyev Monument To Be Erected In Ufa
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 19 December cited sculptor Zurab Tsereteli as saying that he will erect a monument to classical ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in Ufa. Nureyev (1938-93) studied in Ufa.

Legislature Proposes Amendments To Federal Law On Local Self-Governance
The State Assembly on 20 December passed in their third readings laws on tax breaks for higher educational institutions in the culture sector and on state support for small businesses, Bashinform reported. In their first readings, the legislature amended acts on medical insurance and on preventing the spread of HIV. Legislators approved amendments to a federal law on the general principles of local self-governance, addressing them to the State Duma.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova