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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 2, 2000

2 November 2000
Deadline Extended On Tatar/Bashkir-Russian Legislation Harmonization
The deputy presidential representative to the Volga district, Aleksandr Yevstifeyev, told reporters in Nizhni Novgorod on 1 November that the commission harmonizing Tatarstan's and Bashkortostan's legislation with federal laws will extend their work until 9 March. Tatarstan's commission had been ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to complete all activity by November. Yevstifeyev said the extension of the process concerns only legislation that could be recommended for adaptation in federal laws, as well as acts of joint responsibility between the federal and territorial entities. Yevstifeyev said that 75 percent of Tatarstan's laws have been already brought into conformity with federal legislation. This month, Tatarstan's State Council will adopt the constitutional amendments that have been recommended by the commission.

Legislation Commission Meets
Marat Galeyev, the co-chairman of the commission on harmonizing Tatarstan's legislation with Moscow's, told a news conference in Kazan on 1 November that the State Council is ready to change 12 republican laws to suit federal legislation. Galeyev made his comments after the results of a commission meeting held the previous day in Nizhny Novgorod. A second group of laws, Galeyev continued, are recognized by the federal authorities to be used in Russian legislation, among them the law on employment. There is a third group of laws, he said, which continues to cause disputes, among them are the law on Tatar citizenship. Galeyev argued that "Tatarstan cannot be considered as a normal territorial entity. It cannot be covered by the scope of the law on principles of power-sharing, the more so because our power-sharing treaty was signed earlier than the federal law; moreover, it was confirmed by Tatarstan's referendum. The fact is that not only politicians agreed [to sign the power-sharing treaty], but they did it on a basis of power received from citizens of Tatarstan."

Tatarstan's Media Environment Analyzed
Tatarstan was classified as a territorial entity that unites favorable and unfavorable conditions for mass media freedom, Tatar-inform reported on 1 November. The conclusion was made in an analytic report on freedom of speech in the Russian media, which was published in Moscow within the framework of the "Public expertise" project. Participants in the project, which was promoted by the Russian Journalists Union, the Glasnost Protection Fund, the National TV Broadcasters Association, and other organizations evaluated the degree and concentration of media freedom, the level of media disputability, and the structure of media budgets in each Russian region.

In Tatarstan, officials answer inquiries at their own discretion: seven officials out of 24 replied to the requests according to the law. The rest either replied too late, gave incomplete answers, or completely ignored the inquiries. The project authors recognize that "there is a defined level of mass media freedom in Tatarstan, but it exists under the surveillance of authorities, which try to strictly regulate this freedom." It was pointed out in the report that the republican budget is one of the main sources of funds for the media. This year, over 100 million rubles, or 0.53 percent of total budget expenses will be allocated for the maintenance of the media -- a figure that exceeds the average in Russia. According to the "Public expertise," a modernized version of the soviet media model -- one of controlled media freedom -- is available here, and its media scores 34.6 percent on the index of mass media freedom. The chairman of Tatarstan's Journalists Union, Rimma Ratnikova, told Tatar-inform that it is necessary to conduct one's own research in order to show the true degree of media freedom.

By Gulnara Khasanova