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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 20, 1998

20 November 1998
Tatarstan President Comments On Ilyumzhinov Statement
President Mintimer Shaimiev told journalists on 19 November that there is no legislative forum in Russia that allows "nationalities" to help resolve their problems. Shaimiev pointed out that even in Soviet times a Chamber of Nationalities existed within the Supreme Soviet. The presidential press center published Shaimiev's comments in the aftermath of a controversial statement by Kalmyk President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on his republic's relations with Moscow. Shaimiev said measures should be taken to develop Russia's nationalities' policy. He added that Ilyumzhinov's statement was not a call for secession, but for an expansion of the republic's power. He added that this call was precipitated by a powerful federal center, Moscow, which was not living up to its obligations.

Comments made recently by Duma deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky concerning Kalmykia were comparable to fellow deputy Albert Makashov's anti-Semitic comments, Shaimiev said. He added that "not only Jews feel uncomfortable in multinational Russia," but Kalmyks, and perhaps other ethnic groups do as well. If we really want to build a democratic federal state, we have to learn to listen to each other, he said.

Tatarstan Needs Citizenship Agreement With Russia
Tatarstan State Council Deputy chairwoman Zilya Valeeva told Tatarstan Television on 18 November that Tatarstan needs to sign an agreement with Russia on citizenship in order to settle issues that are not within the republic's jurisdiction. Valeeva heads a parliamentary commission preparing a draft law on citizenship, which was passed by the State Council on its second reading last month. Valeeva said an agreement with Moscow on citizenship is supposed to be signed under a draft law, but she said even when the bill becomes law many unsolved issues will remain. In Valeeva's words, most debates in parliament were related to issues regarding dual Russian and Tatar citizenship.

Tatarstan is a Russian republic that declared its sovereignty in 1990. According to the 1992 Tatar Constitution, Tatarstan's residents have dual (Tatar and Russian) citizenship. Tatarstan citizenship is recognized in the 1994 bilateral treaty between Moscow and Kazan. Valeeva said the Russian "Law on Citizenship" does not allow for the approach, introduced in the Tatarstan citizenship law. Under the Russian law one would automatically receive republican/Tatarstan citizenship after obtaining Russian citizenship. Valeeva said she feels that Russia's citizenship law is not fit for a federate state, but for a unitary state. Valeeva said Tatarstan would like to have the right to grant aliens Russian citizenship when they acquire Tatarstan citizenship.

Russia-NATO Partnership Discussed In Kazan
An international conference aimed at developing cooperation between Russia and NATO was held in Kazan on 19-20 November. It was organized by NATO's Moscow Information Representation, the Russian Political Center Fund, and the Tatarstan president's staff. The conference was attended by representatives of NATO, Eastern European countries, Moscow, and Tatarstan and focused on problems of national security, its economic and regional impact, and the different views on NATO enlargement.

The NATO information representative in Russia, Aleksis Shakhtakhtinsky, told Tatarstan television on 19 November that the conference also addressed the problems caused by aggressive nationalism, interethnic conflicts, ecological security, and economic security.

Lawmakers Support Liberalized Bread, Dairy Prices
The chairman of the Commission on Economic Development and Reforms of Tatarstan's State Council, Marat Galeev, said the government should liberalize prices for bread and dairy products, Tatarstan state radio reported on 18 November. In a session devoted to maintaining sufficient food stocks, the commission recommended that the government stop regulating prices for bread and dairy products because keeping the prices below the market price will result in the illegal export of products from the republic and could cause a food shortage.

Fixed prices were cited as the reason for the butter shortage in the republic earlier this month. Tatarstan's cabinet regulates prices for bread and dairy products as a social support measure aimed at maintaining the population's current standard of living.

Compiled by G.Khasanova