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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 8, 2001

8 February 2001
Tatar Parliamentary Speaker On Kazan-Moscow Legislation Issues
State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin told on 1 February that he "absolutely disagreed with that only the [federal] center had a right to solve the land property issues." He admitted that Russian Constitution "needed to be changed" if it allows Moscow to solely decide on whether to introduce private property for land. Referring to the legislative contradictions between the center and the regions Mukhametshin said, "the problem is not only about the regional laws. State Duma already adopted some 1000 federal acts, many of them contradict each other, there are contradicting articles in some of the laws." Tatar parliamentary speaker said, �the republic is critical to the current regional laws correcting campaign, this reminds of the Soviet times.� In his words, � today the positive suggestions concerning the laws of territorial entities are often combined with blind adjustment.� Mukhametshin stated that it would be more useful for Moscow if it borrowed successful achievements from the regions. Tatar State Council already handed the federal government its objections concerning 22 federal legal acts, which violate the Russian Constitution.� Referring to the federal tax reform parliamentary speaker added, �now donor regions are losing interest to expanding their taxable assets.� Mukhametshin demanded that weaker regions should spend Moscow�s transfers on developing their economy, not paying salaries and pensions.

Media Says Moscow Could Reappoint Likhachev correspondent in Kazan referred to some governmental source on 2 February saying that former Tatarstan�s vice-president, parliamentary speaker, presently representing Russia in European Parliamentary Assembly Vasily Likhachev would possibly become chairman of the renewed Federation Council.

Claimant With Criminal Background Wants To Run For Office In Tatarstan
42 year old Nikolay Sidukov, unemployed citizen of no permanent abode, previously convicted for hooliganism applied for registration at Central Election Commission on 1 February. In his statement for the Efir TV the same day, Sidukov said that he was ready to �clean up the corruption at republican government and defend the public interests.� CEC accepted the application, allowing him to start the collecting necessary 50 thousand supportive petitions.

Journalist�s Experiment Compromises The Implementation Of Tatarstan�s State Languages Act
Popular Tatarstan Yashlere daily on 3 February published an article called �My attempts for becoming a presidential candidate� by Riman Giylemkhanov, which depicted his plans to apply for registration at Central Election Commission using only Tatar language. According to the author, while the guards and secretaries at CEC reception were unable to answer his questions in his native tongue, he was ordered to file his application by means of the Russian-language form. Gilyemkhanov reportedly failed to register because there were no officials to conduct a formal interview with possible candidates in Tatar.

Famous Writer Repulses Infringements On Tatar People�s Rights
In an interview with Tatarstan�s State Radio on 3 February prominent Tatar writer, State Council deputy Tufan Minnulin commented on the recent Supreme Court�s ruling which dropped the requirement of knowing both Tatar and Russian languages for presidential candidates. He said that this ruling �infringed on the rights of Tatar people and proved that in Russia democracy was designed only for Russians.� Referring to the attacks of Russian State Duma and media on the transition of Tatar language from Cyrillic script to Latin he said, �the transition is not politically motivated, still it remains and internal affair of Tatar people.�

Presidential Campaign Brings New Businesses Into Life
On 5 February Kazan Efir TV quoted the complaints of a woman working as a collector of signatures in support of presidential candidates applying for registration at Tatarstan�s Election Commission. Some commercial venture was paying her 1ruble for each signature cast for the Tatarstan�s Communist Party Secretary Robert Sadikov or businessman Dmitry Berdnikov. Woman�s disappointment was raised by that she was refused a monetary payment, being offered to take some office supplies at the price of her earnings.

Kazan, Tatarstan To Accelerate The Switching To Latin Tatar
Russian Izvestia wrote on 7 February that the administration of Yanga Savin district in Kazan was considering the idea of making the plates with street names in Latin Tatar. According to the article the district administration resumes its program for introducing the Latin Tatar script in primary schools and beginning from 1 March 2001, 50-60 more schools of Tatarstan would switch to the new script

Shaimiev Explains His View Point On Third Presidency
In his interview with Interfax published on 8 February president Mintimer Shaimiev stated that he didn�t support the idea of abolishing the limitation of possible presidential terms in Russia but admitted that the increase of president�s time at office from 4 to 5 years would be justified. The incumbent Tatar president, preparing for his third campaign said, �in my opinion leaders of Russia�s territorial entities must not be elected more than twice. This issue will be especially topical in connection with the perspective of regional aggregation.� In Shaimiev�s words, �authority of one and the same person within a long period of time has both positive and negative influences on fates of many people.� He said that the principles of democracy, civil society and market economy didn�t make themselves steady in Russia, �America can easily have both actors and governors of state as presidents, nothing would drastically change in such cases, because governmental institutions and roots of democracy are firmly based there. As for Russian government, it is forced besides dealing with its tasks to provide heating to this or that region. In such situations price of stability and individual�s role comes to the front stage.� Shaimiev noted that the possibility of running for the third term had its benefits, because it made the voters realize their responsibility for their choice, �today we can see that those who disappoint the people cannot be elected for their next terms.� Tatar President denied rumors that there was a deal between President Vladimir Putin giving the opportunity for regional leaders to seek their third presidency in exchange for their loyalty. Commenting on the critical statements of the media anticipating the risks of lifetime feudal rules to be established in Russia�s regions, Shaimiev said, �I think that if the duke is wise and intelligent he will rule as long as his people elect him.� Finishing his interview with a joke, President Shamiev noted that he "wouldn�t think of his possible fourth term in office."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Speaker Defends Sovereignty
Bashkortostan speaker Konstantin Tolkachev on 2 February criticized federal bodies which are contesting the republic's sovereignty and power sharing treaties with Moscow, the Bashkortostan presidential press service reported. His comments came at a meeting of the Volga District entities speakers in Nizhny Novgorod. He said that the harmonization should be a two-way street between federal and regional authorities and provide objective evaluation of legal acts taking into account their efficiency.

Federal Inspector Pessimistic About Passports
Rustem Khamitov, the chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan, said that Russian passports are unlikely to be issued in March because Ufa and Moscow still have not agreed on whether Bashkortostan special page should be sewed in or just inserted into the document, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported on 4 February.

Russian Organizations Say Ufa Restricts Freedom Of Speech
Russian several human rights organizations have given the media and human rights situations in Bashkortostan a negative assessment, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir service reported on 4 February. Their comments came at a roundtable in Ufa organized by St. Petersburg humanitarian-political center Strategiya, the expert council at the Russia's ombudsmen, the Bashkortostan Presidential administration, and the republic State Assembly to discuss a draft conception on human rights and freedoms in Russia. Former chief editor of Bashkortostan�s Molodezhnaya gazeta Viktor Savelyev, Radio Liberty Ufa correspondent Artur Asafyev, Bashkortostan Tatar national-cultural autonomy deputy chairman Alfir Sakaev, and Tatar Public Center chairman Airat Giniatullin were unanimous that freedom of speech is restricted and that ethnic discrimination takes place in Bashkortostan. The Russian Journalists Union said in its report that in 2000, Bashkortostan republic was 73th on the freedom of speech list among 87 federation regions while the previous year, it was the last one. But Amir Yuldashbayev, the official from presidential administration, said that the human rights issue should not be valued formally and that the main human right, a right of life, is duly provided in the republic since people are not hungry and do not live in cold apartments.

Newspaper Sees Territorial Change Plan Threatening Republics
Bashkortostan's Kyzyl Tang newspaper on 2 February said that those Moscow politicians who call for the "merging of territorial entities" in fact seek to include non-Russian republics into Russian regions and thus lower the status of non-Russians. These comments came in response to the new draft Russian Constitution developed by the INDEM fund which proposes to reduce the number of federation entities to 60. The paper said that 60 very easily will become then 30 or 20 and that such policies may result in establishing a dictatorship and turn Russia into a unitary state.

Bashkortostan Companies More Profitable
The government said on 2 February that gross regional product in Bashkortostan had grown by 4 percent the last year and totaled to 164 billion rubles, with 38 percent of the firms making a profit.

Banks Extend Credit
Bashkortostan National Bank chairman Mukhamet Sagitdinov told republic bankers on 2 February that credits received by republic companies the last year had almost tripled and that 78 percent of them had been given by republic banks, Bashinform reported. But he added that the volume of credits provided for republic economy still does not satisfy republic's needs. He said that banks reduced the previous year interest rates from 34 to 17 percent.

Ufa Starts Mortgage-Based Construction
Deputy Construction Minister Yuri Alimov on 2 February told ITAR-TASS that the first 75-apartments� living house had been constructed in Ufa under mortgage crediting and called this financial scheme "very worthwhile." He said that the Ufa city administration had provided 8 percent credits for this project and plans to construct in 2001 some one fifth of living houses using such mortgages.

Farmers' Energy Debts Restructured
Bashenergosbyt director Khanif Khalikov on 5 February told ITAR-TASS that his company had agreed to restructure the 1.1 billion ruble energy debt of farms until the end of 2003. The agreement was reached as a result of consultations with republic government. Khalikov said "we realize that the delay of payment is a free crediting of agriculture at our expense" and added that the sides will provide payment schedules for each consumer which will be required rigidly to be fulfilled under a threaten of bankruptcy.

Germany Gives WWII Forced Laborers a Holiday
The German government in January financed a visit to a Bashkortostan resort by 30 republic residents who were used by Berlin as forced laborers during World War II, Bashinform reported on 2 February.

Bailiff Convicted of Abuse of Office
Bashkortostan's Supreme Court convicted senior bailiff at the Ufa district body Rif Asadullin of abuse of office and use of violence and sentenced him to three years probation while denying him the right to work as a bailiff for 18 months, reported on 2 February.

First Bashkir Film Introduced in Turkey
The first full-length feature film in Bashkir was shown at the second film festival of Turkic countries in Istanbul and won a prize, Bashinform reported on 5 February.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Marii El Authorities Won't Expropriate Property
Prime Minister Nikolai Kuklin said on 1 February that there will not be any confiscation in the republic, reported. He said that no company will be closed, but he added that it is necessary to check how they observe the. Interior Minister Anatoly Ivanov said it was particularly important to check on bankruptcy proceedings since these were often being used to conceal profits.

Marii El Won't Bury Nuclear Wastes
Natural Resources Committee spokeswoman Raisa Nikolskaya on 1 February denied rumors about possible burying of nuclear wastes in the republic, reported.

Patriarch to Visit Chuvashia
Aleksii II received on 31 January President Nikolai Fedorov to discuss his visit to Chuvashia in summer, ITAR-TASS reported. Aleksii will visit Cheboksary, Novocheboksarsk, Alatyr and Tsivilsk and attend a ceremony in Cheboksary.

Chuvash Parliament Develops Electoral Legislation
Deputy speaker Nikolai Stepanov on 8 February told ITAR-TASS that the State Council was continuing with harmonization and would soon adopt laws on electoral procedures in order to allow for a presidential vote in December 2001.

Chuvashia Leads Federal District in Growth
The Economics Ministry said on 5 February that Chuvashia in 2000 had lead the federal district with growth of 10.3 percent in industrial production. Tatarstan and Bahskortostan had industrial increases of 10 and 8 percent respectively. Moreover, Chuvashia exceeded its agricultural and construction plans, while the others fell short, the ministry said.

EBRD Extends Credits to Mordovia
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has given Mordovia's State Land Resources Committee a $1.4 million's credit to purchase equipment, reported.

Mordovia Completes Harmonization
Dmitry Zharkov, the chief federal inspector in Mordovia, said on 2 February that the republic has completed harmonization, Stolitsa S reported. He said that the parliament had eliminated the last of some 60 differences with federal legislation during January.

Mordovia Builds Power Station
Mordovia leader Nikolai Merkushkin on 7 February received a letter from UES head Anatoly Chubais supporting the construction of a new power station in the republic, reported. Vladimir Kudryashov, the chief engineer of the station, said that the $1.6 billion project will provide power throughout the Volga Federal District. The plant is scheduled to go on line in 2008.

Press Ministry Promotes Mordovian
The Mordovian Press and Information Ministry on 5 February announced a competition between the district newspapers for the preparation of editions in the Mordovian language, Stolitsa S reported. The ministry said that a paper which publishes at least three number in Mordovian during the year can win a $250 prize.

Duma Delegation Visits Mordovia
A group of Duma deputies from Agrarian party on 5 February arrived in Saransk to study conditions in the agricultural sector and local attitudes on the buying and selling of land, reported.

Mordovian Capital Reduces Administration Staff
Saransk Mayor Ivan Nenukov told on 8 February that the capital�s administration will be cut by more than 25 percent to save money. Some 167 of 604 jobs will be eliminated.

Udmurtia Inspector Controlling Harmonization�
The chief federal inspector in Udmurtia Sergei Chikurov on 1 February met with the republic President Aleksandr Volkov to discuss work harmonization, Nizhny Novgorod telegraph agency reported.

�But Udmurtia Speaker Stands Firm
State Council chairman Igor Semenov on 6 February said that republic parliament "won't please the chief federal inspector," the Udmurtia agency reported. These comments came on the eve of the signing a cooperation agreement between the chief federal inspector administration in Udmurtia, the State council, prosecutor's office, and Russia's justice board in the republic.

Udmurtia Yedinstvo Leader to Sue Moscow Media�
The head of the Yedinstvo Udmurtia branch Viktor Khoroshavtsev on 6 February said he will bring action against several Moscow papers for harming his reputation, the Udmurtia agency reported. He said that the articles published recently by Izvestiya, Novaya gazeta and Obshchaya gazeta accusing him of machinations are only "ten percent true."

�As Yedinstvo Udmurtia Branch Seeks Subsidies
Khoroshavtsev also appealed on 6 February to republic businessmen to sponsor the Yedinstvo Udmurtia branch, reported. He said that party's federal body still had not paid it the 75,000 rubles it was supposed to.

Ulyanovsk Left Opposes Land Sales
Nikolai Tsygankov, the leader of the Russian Communist Labor Party (RKRP) in Ulyanovsk, told on 2 February that local branches of Russian left-wing parties are against the adoption of laws allowing for the sale of land. He said that representatives of RKRP, KPRF, Agrarian party, Otechestvo, and the Ulyanovsk Women Congress had signed an appeal to the authorities saying that "honest workers won't be able to buy land but it will be bought up by big shots" and that can lead to a failure of food production in Russia.

Shamanov Urges Salary Increase as Utilities Prices Jump
Ulyanovsk Governor Vladimir Shamanov said on 5 February that the sixfold rise in public utilities prices introduced on 1 February while he was in Moscow was a "mistake" and that local companies must increase salaries to compensate for it.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova