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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 14, 2000

14 November 2000
Russian Justice Minister Meets Tatar President...
Russian Justice Minister Yuri Chayka met the president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, on 13 November in Kazan to discuss the adjustment of conflicting legislation in Russia. Chayka told Shaimiev that the federal Justice Ministry was assigned by President Vladimir Putin to maintain a state register of laws adopted by Russia's territorial entities. According to a decree reportedly to soon be signed by Putin, the federal ministry will check the regional legislative acts before local legislators pass them.

Chayka noted during the meeting that Tatarstan's Justice Ministry will concentrate on checking the conformity of the republic's laws to federal legislation, according to the assignment of the superior Russian ministry. President Shaimiev noted that the republican ministry will perform double duty, "also serving to coordinate other justice bodies in Tatarstan."

After the meeting, one reporter asked Chayka to comment on the statement that the "Russian Constitution was not supported by the majority of Tatarstan's population during a national referendum in 1993, so it has no force on the republic's territory." The Russian minister replied that "If it is a federative state in which we are living, we must respect federal laws." He admitted, however, that "if some of the federal laws are archaic, a more perfect regional legislation will be taken as a basis."

Shaimiev said "we mustn't forget that the power-sharing treaty between the Russian Federation and Tatarstan's governmental bodies emerged due to the nonconformity of Russia and Tatarstan's constitutions. That's why during our last meeting with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin we agreed that we would rely on the provisions of the treaty."

Shaimiev added that as a member of the Russian State Council in charge of the federal concept of power sharing, he knew that the most frequent problem in his work was the "absence of a distinct division of powers." He stressed that that was "no one's fault, neither of the regional authorities nor of the federal ministers." It's necessary to define the exclusive areas to be controlled by the federal bodies and Russia's territorial entities and to vest these areas by law so that there would be no interference into each other's rights." Later that day, Chayka gave Shaimiev a gold medal for enforcing the Russian legal system. The medal is the highest award given by the federal Justice Ministry. Silver medals were also given to Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov and Tatarstan's Constitutional Court chairman, Sayfikhan Nafiyev.

...And Appoints Republican Prison System Chief
Russian Justice Minister Yuri Chayka named Shaykhulla Ismailov as the new chief of Tatarstan's prison and reform board on 13 November in Kazan. According to Tatarstan's media, the federal official made the decision on this appointment only on that day. The position has been empty for about nine months. Ismailova was previously the head of prison number 10 in the Minzele region of Tatarstan, and was suggested for his new post by President Shaimiev. Ismailov, 42, told reporters that he would start his "reforms by learning about the situation and [then making] staff reshuffles." A special federal commission will reportedly soon visit Tatarstan in order to investigate possible violations within the prison system.

According to new official procedures, the candidacies of Tatarstan's prisons chiefs are to be suggested by the republican president and appointed by the federal justice minister.

Tatarstan's Customs To Be Resubmitted And Get Staff Reduction
Tatarstan's customs chief, Nikolai Kotsubenko, held a press conference on 13 November to tell the media that according to the federal customs system reform, his organization will be transformed into a regional affiliate of the Volga Customs board with headquarters based in Nizhny Novgorod. Kotsubenko said that in 2001 Kazan, Chally, and several other customs departments of Tatarstan will no longer report to the State Customs Committee of the Russian Federation. He also said that the transition will require about 10 percent of Tatarstan's customs staff to be dismissed, meaning the laying off of some 50 officers.

Tatar Public Center To Rally Against Moscow's Federal Policy
The moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center made a public statement on 13 November saying that it would hold a protest near the republican publishing house on Bauman Street in Kazan on 18 November. Protests will center on the policy of Russia's federal center in respect to the ethnic republics. A statement released by TPC officials said that "the meeting would protest Moscow's interference into Tatarstan's internal affairs." Federal tax policy and the activity of Russian presidential representatives in administrative districts would be cited as examples of such interference.

By Gulnara Khasanova