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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 16, 2000

16 October 2000
Memory Day Marked In Kazan
About 2,000 people joined in a morning meeting to mark the 448th anniversary of the fall of the Kazan Khanate to Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible, held at Freedom Square in Kazan on 15 October. The traditional meeting is called Heter Koene (Memory Day) and has been held for the last 12 years by members of the moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TPC) and the Tatar youth movement Azatlik.

Well-known TPC leaders from Kazan, Chally, Alabuga, Bogelme, and Chistay, members of the World Congress of Tatars, Tatar singers and actors made speeches at the meeting urging a revival of Tatarstan's independence and a stop to "new Russian aggression" so that the republic's sovereignty could be preserved. TPC activists held placards with slogans condemning the current policy of President Vladimir Putin and calling for a revival of Tatarstan's statehood, which was lost in 1552.

Some of the speechmakers told of the necessity to support Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, who has been subjected to numerous attacks from Moscow officials.

Generally, speeches stressed the importance in defending Tatarstan's current status and even to promote it to "a higher level, so that the forefathers of today's Tatars who died defending Kazan will not be betrayed.

A guest delegation from the neighboring Marii El Republic said in speeches that they "shared the grief with Tatar people, remembering the 30,000 Marii warriors who died defending Kazan." The Marii delegation stated that they support the idea of creating the Idel-Ural regional confederation to unite the peoples of the Volga river basin and the Urals.

According to a resolution adopted at the meeting, the TPC urged Tatarstan's government to "cancel its power-sharing treaty with Moscow signed in 1994 and urgently begin forming the Idel-Ural confederation." The TPC also demanded the creation of a monument to the defenders of Kazan, emphasizing that there already was a monument to Russian warriors who died during the battle of 1552.

After the meeting, participants marched to the Kazan Kremlin for a Muslim service.

Shaimiev To Work On Federal Concept Of Power-Sharing
In an interview with Tatarinform agency on 14 October, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev commented on the most recent session of the Russian State Council. Shaimev said that as a member of the State Council presidium he was given the special task of elaborating upon the concept of power-sharing between Russia's federal center and the regions.

Speaking about the legislative discrepancies between Moscow and the regions, Tatarstan's president said "We adopted a lot of different laws to reach some definite political and economic goals in a short period. We've done a lot, now its time to fix this mess. It's necessary to make a clear division of commissions, what belongs to the center and what to the federation, without interfering with each other's exclusive powers. Federal laws must not be adopted without the participation of Russia's territorial entities," he added.

By Iskender Nurmi