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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 3, 2000

3 February 2000
Shaimiev On Chechnya, Tatarstan-Russia Relations
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, said in an interview with Interfax on 2 February that in order to establish peace in Chechnya, the federal government should negotiate with Aslan Maskhadov. He said it was strange that the head of the pro-Moscow Chechen militia, Bislan Gantamirov, was released from criminal charges and sent to Chechnya, yet Moscow refuses considers Maskhadov an illegitimate leader. In Shaimiev's opinion, the Chechen war cannot be compared to the war in Kosova. He said while the war in Kosova included ethnic cleaning, the military action in Chechnya is considered a fight against international terrorism.

In reference to a Moscow proposal on appointing governors in Russian territorial entities instead of them being elected, Shaimiev said that nobody can revise the historical power sharing agreement between Kazan and Moscow that was signed six years ago simply to satisfy a certain political situation. He said that once freedom is experienced, it is not easily given up. Shaimiev agreed that it is necessary to bring the constitutions of Tatarstan and Russia into agreement, but he added that the Tatar Constitution was adopted before the Russian one. Shaimiev spoke against a reduction in the powers of the Russian entities. Shaimiev said that Vladimir Putin can only be evaluated as a candidate for the Russian presidency once his election program is published. Shaimiev said he holds in high esteem the work of the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.

Tatarstan's Speaker On Russian Presidential Election
Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farit Mukhametshin, said in an interview with Tatar Television on 2 February "that the candidate for the Russian Federation presidency that will receive our support will recognize the power sharing treaty and the intergovernmental agreements" between Tatarstan and Russia. Mukhametshin said that the treaty and the agreements "have played an extremely important role in the formation of the federal Russian Federation."

Tatarstan And Kazakhstan Create Joint Company
Tatar Television reported on 2 February that Tatarstan's premier, Rustam Minnikhanov, and Kazakh officials agreed during a meeting in Astana earlier this week to join forces in making polystyrene. Minnikhanov visited Kazakhstan on 31 January. Tatarstan's Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemical company and Kazakhstan's Aktaluz plastics plant will participate in joint effort.

Tatarstan's Losses In Chechnya
A reported 27 soldiers from Tatarstan have died in Chechnya during the military actions there, Tatar-inform reported on 2 February. The news agency cited a Tatar Recruiting Office official, Lieutenant-Colonel Igor Nikolayev, as saying that 17 of them were named by the Defense Ministry, three were volunteers, and seven worked in the Ministry of the Interior. Fifty-four soldiers from Tatarstan have been injured--44 of the Defense Ministry troops and 10 from the Interior Ministry. In total, 617 soldiers and officers from Tatarstan are currently serving in Chechnya.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova