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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 24, 2000

24 March 2000
Under What Terms Are Bashkortostan And Russia Revising Interbudget Relations?
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin told a governmental meeting in Moscow on 23 March that Russia and Bashkortostan have signed a draft agreement on interbudget relations. Putin ordered the Russian Finance Ministry to complete the documentation necessary for realizing the agreement, which he said was initiated by Bashkortostan's president, Murtaza Rakhimov. The Republic of Bashkortostan (BR) will reportedly lose its right to collect federal taxes and directly finance federal programs and institutions. Taxes will henceforth be transferred to the federal treasury. The APN agency said that if Rakhimov refused to sign such a treaty with Moscow that the Russian Supreme Court might resume hearings on the legitimacy of presidential elections in BR in 1998. In those elections, Rakhimov's rivals--Bashkortostan's former premier, Marat Murgazyamov, and State Duma deputy from Bashkortostan, Aleksandr Arinin, were refused registration as candidates, leaving only Timber Industry Minister Rif Kazikulov in opposition to Rakhimov in the elections.

Putin said at the governmental meeting that existing differences between federal laws and the legislation of territorial entities within the Russian Federation began "worrying the Russian government, and in order to make Russia more attractive to investors we need a distinct constitutional space." He said that investors in any region of Russia had to be "absolutely sure that they invest in Russia."

Is Tatarstan Next To Sign Deal With Moscow?
At the governmental meeting in Moscow on 23 March, acting Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he discussed the issue of settling interbudget relations with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev during his last trip to Kazan. Putin said: "Tatarstan's leader in favor of endorsing an agreement similar to the one [signed with] Bashkortostan." Putin said that the "initiatives of the leaders in Bashkortostan and Tatarstan were a clear signal not only for the Russian public, but also for the international community indicating that there are some priorities common to both the regions and for the entire federation." He stressed that the "strengthening of the Russian state" was one such priority.

Third Gas Explosion Was Intentional, Investigators Say
The chief of the State Security Committee in Tatarstan, Aleksandr Gusev, told a press conference on 23 March that a criminal group detained in December 1999 was also planning to blow up a gas pumping station in Shemordan, Tatarstan. The group was arrested for plotting the explosions on the Urengoy-Uzhgorod and Perm-Nizhny Novgorod gas pipelines in Kirov Oblast near Tatarstan's border in December. The group included 12 residents of Kirov Oblast, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan. Ten of them were detained, though a former student at the Muslim school in Elmet, Tatarstan, Airat Gimeltdinov, and Ramazan Ishkildin of the Baynak region of Bashkortostan, are still at large and sought by federal authorities. Both are reported to have completed special training in military camps run by Chechen military commanders Emir Khattab and Shamil Basayev in 1999. The arrested members of the group say that the explosions were set up in order to draw the attention of Western countries to what is happening in Chechnya. The reportedly said that they were armed and ready to shoot anyone who would try to stop them from carrying out their plans.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi