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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 27, 2000

27 October 2000
High-Level Talks In Kazan On Conflicting Legislation
Two representatives of the Russian presidential staff arrived in Kazan on 26 October. According to the daily "Vremya i Dengi" on 27 October, Tatarstan's presidential press service refused to comment on the arrival of the first deputy chief of the Russian presidential staff, Vyacheslav Surkov, and deputy chief Dmitri Kozak. Surkov and Kozak reportedly were to meet with officials from Tatarstan's State Council on 27 October, although parliamentary spokeswoman Lyubov Ageeva said on 26 October that the visit was sudden and failed to explain its purpose. According to the Tatar press on 27 October, the Russian officials will discuss issues of legislation "adjustment" between the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan republics and the federal center.

Dmitri Kozak told reporters upon arrival at the Kazan airport that "we would like to discuss ways for living better under the Russian laws." Among the other officials visiting Kazan were Bashkortostan's parliamentary speaker, Konstantin Tolkachev, and the deputy presidential representative in the Volga federal district, Aleksandr Yestifeev, who is in charge of the unification of regional legislation.

Bashkir Constitution To Be Changed To Suit Moscow
Legislative Chamber deputies in Bashkortostan's State Assembly passed a draft law in the first reading on 26 October that would amend the republican constitution. In a speech during the session, Bashkortostan's presidential representative to parliament, Viktor Pchelintsev, emphasized that President Murtaza Rakhimov was the "initiator in making amendments and additions to the constitution." Pchelintsev said some of Rakhimov's initiatives included the recent publishing of a draft law in the republican press and the collection of signatures in support of the draft, which provides amendments to the first and the sixth sections of Bashkortostan's Constitution. Parliamentary deputy Salavat Dautov reported on the status of the signature collection process, noting that thus far 57,041 signatures have been gathered, and 56,665 have been deemed valid.

Legislation committee member Zufar Enikeev reported on suggestions by leading Bashkir legal experts and parliamentary deputies who discussed the 104 constitutional amendments offered by the president. Of the 79 remarks on the amendments made by experts and deputies, 17 were accepted and the other were rejected. It was noted in other deputies' speeches that amendments to the Bashkir Constitution "haven't been made since 1993" and that the "changing political situation in Russia reportedly required the current amendments."

The suggested edit of the constitution contains new definitions to the articles on the republic's status within the Russian Federation, on the legal system, citizenship, and human and citizen's rights. For example, the new version of the article on Bashkortostan's sovereignty says that the "Republic of Bashkortostan is a democratic legal sovereign state within the Russian Federation," not an "associated member" of the federation as it is currently stated. Some references to the legal system in the republic were also adjusted to appease federal laws.

Pchelintsev referred in his speech to the words of Russian presidential representatives inside the conciliation commission on the harmonization of republican and federal laws, who "gave a high appraisal to the list of amendments discussed in the Bashkir parliament." On the same day, the draft list was offered for further discussion by the Representatives Chamber of the Bashkir State Assembly.

By Iskender Nurmi