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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 4, 2000

4 July 2000
Shaimiev On Chances Of Federation Council Reform
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, in an interview with Interfax agency on 3 July, commented on the possible reform of Russia's Federation Council as suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shaimiev said that the draft law on reforming the upper chamber will be most likely be approved after its first edit. Shaimiev said it was "unprecedented" for the Duma to address the Federation Council and offer to establish a joint commission on a controversial bill. As reported, the bill will remove regional governors from the council as well as reduce their legislative powers and immunity from prosecution. Shaimiev admitted that if deputies and "senators" "fail to achieve a compromise, its quite possible that Putin will join the process of [trying to resolve] the contradictions." He said the bill on reforming the Federation Council proposed by Putin was considered and received a preliminary endorsement from the council's working group, which is chaired by Yegor Stroyev, in May. "Most of the working group members generally agreed with the draft bill�Negative reaction by the 'senators' to the law on forming the Federation Council [that was] passed by the Duma is understandable," Shaimiev said, "because none of the amendments offered by 'senators' were taken into consideration." Tatarstan's president evaluated the Duma modification of Putin�s draft law as "a lot stricter" than the original.

Parliamentary Speaker On State Council Session
Tatarstan's parliamentary speaker, Farit Mukhametshin, said on 3 July that changes in the social and political life of Tatarstan are aimed at the further democratization of Tatarstan. Mukhametshin made his comments at a press conference to discuss the recent session of the republican State Council. Mukhametshin named the recent creation of Tatarstan's Constitutional Court and the appointment of a commissioner on human rights as examples of positive changes.

Concerning the demands by the federal prosecutor to bring Tatarstan's laws in conformity with federal legislation, the speaker said that Tatarstan's parliamentarians "would lose their self-respect if they rushed" to adhere to the prosecutor's orders. "Objectively speaking," Mukhametshin said, "where was this prosecutor's office in 1993 when the Russian Constitution was adopted?" Tatarstan's Constitution is different from the Russian one, but was adopted in 1992, before the federal one was. Mukhametshin added that "Tatarstan has a more difficult situation than other republics in Russia because the amending process will take a lot of time."

Kama River Bridge Nearing Completion
Tatar Deputy Premier Vladimir Shvetsov told the press on 3 July that the bridge being constructed over the Kama River at Sayeskan Tau�Murzikha will be open to pedestrians by autumn of 2001, although vehicles won't be able to cross it until 2002-2003. The bridge is of federal importance and construction costs are being paid by both Moscow and Kazan.

Floods Cause Damage In Bashkortostan
The Republic of Bashkortostan suffered about 5 million rubles in damage from recent floods, the daily "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 3 July. Floods reportedly caused damage in three regions of the republic, submerging hundreds of rural homes and destroying power lines and roads.

By Iskender Nurmi