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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 16, 2000

16 May 2000
Tatarstan Officials Comment On Creating Federal Okrugs
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin dividing Russia into seven federal districts "will serve as a more effective instrument for realizing the constitutional authority of the president of the Russian Federation." Shaimiev called the decree "an attempt to find more effective forms for interaction between federal bodies and their relations with territorial entities." He said it is impossible for anyone to divide Russia up again into administrative-territorial units. Shaimiev said "they are the same representatives of the president [as before] but more integrated and independent from the heads of territorial entities."

The chairman of the State Council, Farid Mukhametshin, said the measure is aimed "at strengthening the presidential branch of authority," and suggested that the main control functions will be given to the representatives in okrugs.

Rafail Khakimov, a state adviser to Tatarstan's president, said in an interview with Tatar-inform on 15 May that the status of a federal okrug is not clear as it is not defined by the Russian Constitution, and no other documents concerning the issue are available. Khakimov said he saw three possible reasons for creating federal okrugs. The first is the opportunity to get rid of the representatives who are unable to provide impartial information about the situation in the regions and the appointment of more independent heads in okrugs that will promote more efficient work. The second reason is a renaissance of the old idea of Russia's gubernization, firstly proposed in 1995 but failing to be implemented because of resistance from federation subjects. And the third reason, in Khakimov's opinion, is the possible creation of a new union of seven [newly formed] federal okrugs -- pointing out that in their size and potential they are quite comparable to Belarus.

Tatarstan's Opposition Leaders Comment On Putin Decree
The leader of the Tatarstan Communist Party, Robert Sadykov, told Tatar-inform on 15 May that federative structures created on the basis of the 13 May decree by President Putin are at odds with the constitution. In his opinion, the new measure will create huge additional expenses for the maintenance of managing bodies in okrugs, and it pursues the unseemly aim of strengthening the personal position of the Russian president and his administration.

Tatarstan's nationalist opposition organization, the Tatar Public Center (TPC), issued an official statement on the Putin decree, Tatar Television reported on 15 May. TPC claimed that Russian chauvinists encouraged by unpunished actions in the North Caucasus are trying to consolidate a colonial system by creating gubernias. The statement said that "gubernization, which intends to merge national state formations with Russian oblasts, is aimed at dissolving enslaved peoples in the conglomerate of prevailing ethnos. As imperial politicians dream, through gubernization of sovereign state formations, the possibility will arise to restore a centralized Russian state similar to Tsarist Russia's autocracy. The features of sovereignty of national republics will be abolished due to the betrayal and apostasy of local ruling elites."

The leader of TPC's Chally branch, Rafis Kashapov, said in an interview with Tatar-inform that the decree infringes on the rights of citizens of the Russian Federation, especially in national republics.

Japanese Monument To Be Constructed In Alabuga
Construction in Alabuga of a monument to Japanese citizens killed while imprisoned in the Soviet Union after World War II was discussed at a meeting between the head of Tatarstan's Foreign Relations Department, Timur Akulov, and a delegation from Japan's Health Care Ministry, the state Tatar-inform agency reported on 15 May. A ministry official, Kharuo Koidzumi, said during the meeting that the monument will be the first in a program to construct memorials all over Russia. Construction is expected to be finished by September.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova