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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 30, 2000

30 August 2000
Republic Day Celebrated In Tatarstan
Celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Tatarstan's adoption of its declaration of sovereignty were held in cities across the republic on 30 August. An official holiday, the day features various celebratory events and a wide-range of entertainment all across Tatarstan. Some streets in the capital, Kazan, were closed to accomodate pedestrian traffic.

Tatarstan's Parliament Marks Anniversary
The plenary session of Tatarstan's parliament on 29 August was devoted to the 10th anniversary of the sovereignty declaration. A number of high-ranking Russian regional leaders and federal officials joined the session to congratulate the republic's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, and parliamentary deputies.

Shaimiev opened the session with a speech on the results of Tatarstan's sovereignty over the last 10 years, emphasizing that his republic was "the first sprout of real federalism for Russia, which actually was a unitary state." He also noted that federalism was a "territorial carcass of democracy," and that it would serve for "securing democracy in Russia�that's why there cannot be any doubts that if Russia chose democracy, it means it chose federalism."

The next speaker, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko, congratulated Tatarstan's government on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and Premier Mikhail Kasyanov. She also wished President Shaimiev "good health and many years of service in his post."

The deputy speaker of Tatarstan's parliament, Robert Minnulin, noted in his speech the important historical role of the sovereignty declaration. Kamil Iskhakov, Kazan's mayor and deputy in parliament, made a report on the improvements in the republic's capital, stating that there were more construction projects accomplished in the last 10 years than there were in the previous 30 to 40 years. The presidents of the republics of Kabardin-Balkar, Bashkortostan, and North Ossetia, and the parliamentary speakers of the republics of Udmurtia and Yakutia, also made congratulating speeches. The chairmen of Russia's Federation Council and State Duma, Yegor Stroyev and Gennady Seleznev, respectively, sent telegrams from Moscow congratulating the government and the people of Tatarstan on the anniversary.

Tatarstan's deputies adopted a memorable resolution referring to Shaimiev's report and stressing the importance of Tatarstan's sovereignty and the power-sharing agreement with Moscow. The resolution also declared that "the republic will not leave the path of democracy, law, and historical justice."

TPC Holds Demonstration For Tatarstan's Independence
The moderate nationalist group Tatar Public Center held a meeting devoted to the problems of Tatarstan�s sovereignty in Kazan's Freedom Square on 29 August. TPC representatives carried placards condemning the "chauvinist policy of the Russian Empire" against Russian republics and urging the formation of an Idel-Ural confederation uniting the regions of the Volga basin and the Urals. The meeting involved about 700 people, representing TPC branches in Kazan, Chally, Alabuga, and the Marii El Republic.

In their speeches, TPC leaders stated that "the struggle for Tatarstan's independence is not over," urging a revival of Tatar traditions and the preservation of Tatar culture. Representatives from the World Tatar Congress spoke at the meeting, stressing the necessity of creating a "true federal state in Russia" by forming seven confederations instead of seven administrative districts in Russia and then uniting them.

Participants burned an enlarged copy of the recent Russian Constitutional Court ruling that abolished the sovereignty of the republics in the Russian Federation as "unconstitutional." The TPC urged Tatarstan's parliament to adopt a resolution condemning the federal court verdict and annulling its ruling.

At the beginning of Tatarstan's parliamentary session, the demonstration moved towards the State Council building to picket its entrance, shouting "azatlik" (freedom). Standing on the steps of the republican parliament building, former TPC Chairman Zeki Zeynullin made an accusatory speech against ethnic Russians, claiming that "they never work, they only can drink." Other speechmakers repeatedly emphasized the importance of preserving Tatar culture and traditions and reviving Tatarstan's independence, which was taken away by Ivan the Terrible in 1552.

By Iskender Nurmi