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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 15, 2000

15 June 2000
Tatarstan�s Officials Comment On Gusinsky�s Arrest
Tatarstan�s minister of the press and mass media, Zilya Valeeva, in an interview with republican television on 14 June, commented on the arrest of Media-Most head Vladimir Gusinsky. Valeeva said that the "arrest of a person not representing any social danger was plotted as an act of intimidation. It showed the heterogeneous content of Russian authorities, revealing that there are forces wishing to step back from democratic achievements." She admitted that Putin's recent statement that "freedom of the press is an inviolable principle" could possibly result in Gusinsky�s early release. The same day Russian Duma deputies representing Tatarstan, Vladimir Rokitsky, Fandas Safiullin, and Flera Ziyatdinova, held a press briefing in Kazan stating that the arrest was politically motivated. Rokitsky said that he was surprised by the statement of Vladimir Putin saying that he was unaware of the preparations for the arrest. Deputies agreed that "many facts show that this arrest has political grounding."

Shaimiev Comments On The New Head Of Chechnya
In an interview with Interfax on 14 June, Tatarstan�s president, Mintimer Shaimiev, called the appointment of Chechen Muslim leader Akhmed Kadirov as head of Chechen administration is "a case unprecedented in history." Shaimiev noted that the "fact of appointing the religious leader to the post of administrative head in a region where religion is separated from the state, had never happened before. Although, there were cases during the period of perestroika in Tatarstan, when some Communist party officials became Muslim priests in the wave of religious revival." Shaimiev said that Kadirov could become a member of the Federation Council, but his status would have ambiguous legitimacy. In order for Chechen authorities to become more legitimate," he said, "it's necessary to use [Russian] direct presidential rule for creating conditions for legal elections."

Commenting on the current activities of the federal government in Chechnya, Shaimiev said "for the first time, the center began actual assistance to the rebuilding of the Chechen Republic. The federal budget of 2001 allots about 8 billion rubles for these purposes." He said that distrust of Chechen leaders to federal officials can be explained by the fact that Moscow's previous economic agreements with Chechnya "were not carried out." In president Shaimiev�s words, the federal government can regain the trust of Chechens only by reviving their republic.

Chechnya To Buy Harvester Machines From Tatarstan
The deputy head of the Chechen administration, Gelani Makhauri, made a public statement on 14 June saying that Chechnya has received 283 million rubles from the federal budget for buying agricultural machinery, fuel, and oil. Some 150 million rubles of the transfer will reportedly be used for purchasing combined harvester machines from the Rostov Oblast and Tatarstan. Since 1997, Tatarstan has regularly installed locally-produced KamAZ engines on Ukrainian Don harvesters in order to increase their power and fuel efficiency.

By Iskender Nurmi