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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 28, 2001

28 September 2001
Speaker Urges Referendum On Constitutional Amendments...
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said on 25 September that the republic leaders in their negotiations with Moscow are trying to preserve the power-sharing treaty and to include its provisions in the new edition of the constitution, Tatar-inform reported. He said that the status of Tatarstan previously defined as "associated with the Russian Federation" will be changed since "it is evident that Tatarstan is a full member of the Russian Federation." But he said that we'll make all efforts to preserve the republic's powers to promote the interests of its residents." He added that the legislation "should be unified" and that constitutional norms that directly contradict" the Russian constitution must be eliminated. He said that constitutional amendments will likely take shape of the new edition of the basic law and added that a referendum may be held to adopt it. And he said that the people should have a voice in this process.

...As Analysts Split on Constitutional Referendum
In a roundtable published in "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 20 September, political researcher Midkhat Farukshin said that the growing pressure Moscow puts on Tatarstan reflects Russia's revenge after ten years of its permanent retreat before the republic. He said that Moscow in its efforts to restore a common legal space and strengthen vertical power had gone too far and has infringed on the rights of federation subjects. He called for fixing in the Tatarstan constitution of the republic's multinational nature, a move that could become a good sample for Russia, he said. And he said he was opposed holding a referendum on the constitution because of the complexities of the issues involved. Meanwhile, historian Damir Iskhakov said a referendum on the constitution might be open to manipulation, while State Council deputy Marat Galeev said that a referendum is the only possible democratic procedure people can use to express its opinion about a constitution.

State Council Official Backs Latinization
Razil Valeev, the head of the State Council�s science, education, culture, and national issues commission, told "Respublika Tatarstan" on 22 September that anti-latinization efforts by Duma deputies violate the Russian constitution as the latter recognizes the language issue to be completely regions' powers. He recalled that Tatar poet Musa Jalil, being in Nazi captivity during the WWII, wrote his Moabit notebooks in Latin-based Tatar script. And he stressed that the results of the experiment in teaching the Latin script involving a thousand schoolchildren and a hundred teachers have shown good results.

Kazan Seeks To Preserve State Symbols...
The State Council has rejected the protest by Tatarstan�s prosecutor that required restricting of use of Tatarstan�s state symbols on state buildings and in their offices. It was stressed in the protest that these symbols cannot be permanently placed there but only can accompany symbols of the Russian Federation on holidays. Deputies argued that the issue should be considered after amending the constitution.

...And Its Property Of Oil, Gas
AK&M reported on 26 September that the State Council has preserved the norm according to which oil and gas in the republic are its own property despite the protest by the republic prosecutor. The parliamentary commission on economic development and reforms commented that the issue should be resolved after amending the republic constitution. Under the Russian constitution, natural resources are common powers of the federation and its subjects.

Public Movement Seeks Referendum on Nuclear Wastes Imports
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 20 September published a statement by the republic Creation public association opposing imports of spent nuclear fuel in Russia. The movement called for a referendum in Tatarstan to preserve the prohibition on such imports and for a Russian-wide protest action against the Duma decision allowing it. It also said that it had begun collecting signatures to require the Duma to annul that law and to initiate the republic referendum.

Tatarstan Official Reported To Be Appointed Ambassador To Iraq
"Vechernyaya Kazan" on 25 September reported that Tatarstan presidential foreign affairs department head Timur Akulov will likely be appointed Russia�s ambassador to Iraq. At the moment, Akulov is on a visit to Baghdad.

TPC Wants Tatarstan To Be Recognized as a Colony
The Tatar Public Center on 24 September appealed to State Council deputies to promote recognition of Tatarstan to be a colony since it is unable to defend its sovereignty, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. TPC leader Rashid Yagfarov said that if the republic receives a colonial status, it will be able to appeal to international organizations to help overcome it.

Legislature May Hold Elections In March
"Novaya vecherka" on 26 September reported that new parliamentary elections will likely be held in Tatarstan in March 2002 since at present, some deputies are heads of executive bodies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Scholar Upbeat about Republic's Sovereignty...
In advance of the 11th anniversary of the adoption of Bashkortostan's declaration of sovereignty, the "Yashlek" weekly in its 24 September issue published an article by one of the leaders of Bashkir nationalist movement, Professor Reshit Shakurov. He recalled that last year Tatarstan State Council speaker Farit Mukhametshin had said that "no matter how clever the federal center can be, it cannot substitute the initiatives coming from the millions of people." Shakurov characterized the legal institute of state sovereignty of Russian republics as "a major force for protecting the self-determination right of peoples living there, giving Bashkir people an opportunity to protect their ethnic identity. This is widely understood by people." He suggested that Bashkirs should rely on European laws for realizing self-determination rather than on Russian ones.

...Tatar Intelligentsia Movement Activist Backs Bashkortostan's Independence
Reshit Sabit, activist of the Tatar intelligentsia movement in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL on 24 September that the decade of Bashkortostan�s independence had "proved to be a great achievement in general, enjoyed by many people." In his words, the sovereignty of Bashkortostan is an issue of vital importance for people of the republic, helping them to preserve their culture and traditions."

Bashkirs Protest Samara Government's Policies
"Respublika Bashkortostan" reported on 24 September that Bashkirs who form the majority of Bolshegusinky region population in Samara oblast are threatened with the loss of their ethnic identity because of the lack of educational and cultural facilities in their native language. The daily said that local administrators are carrying out a policy of Russification against that Bashkir community. Ufa, the paper added, plans to prepare a program to assist the cultural needs of Samara's Bashkirs.

Government Adopts Hard Line on Wages Arrears in Farm Sector
The meeting of Bashkortostan's State Control Committee pledged to take strict measures against officials responsible for back wages repayment to state-owned farms employees on 25 September. Earlier this year republic's government promised full repayment of some 500 million rubles ($17 million) debt to the farmers but has managed to pay only the half of this sum. During the first 8 months of 2001, some farms reportedly obtained full repayment of wages arrears, but other farms didn't get any repayment at all. State Control committee chairman Petr Borirev urged the chief debtors to "urgently get rid of debts by 1 December this year, or prepare to loose their jobs."

Operation Whirlwind a Success in Republic
Over 1066 suspects, 11 sets of explosives, and over 70 kilograms of drugs were seized by Bashkortostan militia during the six days of Operation Whirlwind- Anti-Terror beginning from 17 September.

Bashkortostan Trains Its Own Officials
Bashkortostan's State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev launching training course for republic officials.

Begging Becomes Profitable Business
The average street beggar in Ufa receives donations from 700 to 1200 rubles per day, a sum more than 10 times that what an average state employee earns, "Molodezhnaya Gazeta" reported on 25 September.

Land Registration Seen Boosting Budget Revenues
Deputy Prime Minister and State Land Committee chairman Shamil Vakhitov said on 25 September that over 64% of republic's lands have been entered to the official Land Register, thus enabling Ufa to collect about 5 million rubles ($170,000) in real estate taxes this year.

Fradkov Says Tatar Tax Police Should Copy Bashkir Colleagues
Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Russian Federal Tax Police, said in an interview published by "Kommersant-Daily" on 25 September as saying that Tatarstan's tax bodies should learn from their counterparts in Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Seven Seek to Run for Chuvashia Presidency
The Chuvashia Central Electoral Commission has permitted collection of signatures backing seven candidates -- Federal Security Service General Lieutenant Stanislav Voronov, the head of the Russian Afghanistan Veterans Union in Chuvashia Igor Kashaev, the head of SPS in Chuvashia Nikolai Grigoryev, Duma Federation Affairs and Regional Policy Committee chairman and KPRF in Chuvashia head Valentin Shurchanov, and the leader of the Russian-wide public movement "Against Criminality and Illegality," Dmitrii Berdnikov, State Assembly deputy Nikolai Ivanov, and President Nikolai Fedorov -- as presidential candidates, reported. Meanwhile, Unity in Chuvashia on 25 September has supported reelection of Nikolai Fedorov as republic president, VolgaInform reported.

Chelyabinsk Authorities Finance Local Newspapers
Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Petr Sumin on 21 September told editors of oblast and raion newspapers that the oblast authorities will continue subsidizing local newspapers, Ural-Press-Inform reported. The oblast budget pays for some 80 percent of their expenses.

Sumin Pessimistic About Growth Of Budget Employees' Salary
Petr Sumin on 21 September said he does not believe that the federal government will be able to raise salary to state budget employees by 60-90 percent as of December as it promised, reported.

Putin Bust to Be Produced in Chelyabinsk Oblast
The Kusin machine building plant has manufactured a test copy of the bust of President Vladimir Putin and plans to begin its serial production, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 21 September.

District Official Criticizes Mordovia for Failing to Pay Power Bills
German Petrov, a Deputy Presidential Envoy to the Volga Federal District, said while visiting Mordovia that relations between energy providers and consumers in the republic are "unsatisfactory and illegal," reported on 24 September.

Saransk Fighting Metals Thefts
Mordovia's authorities have temporarily closed all offices purchasing non-ferrous metals, reported on 27 September. The measure is intended to help fight criminality in the sector. Republic Interior Ministry official in charge of fighting economic crimes Timofei Sysuev said that his department has filed 400 cases this year connected to stealing of metal.

Khodyrev Calls for Selling Land 'Carefully'
Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Gennadii Khodyrev said on 20 September that Russia needs a land code since land in fact was always sold on the black market, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported. He said that it should be permitted to sold land in cities and near them but called for this to be done "carefully."

Soldiers' Mothers Groups Urged Investigation of Railroad Troops
The Nizhnii Novgorod Committee of Soldiers' Mothers appealed to the Office of the Chief Military Prosecutor to investigate railway troops units, VolgaInform reported on 24 September. The committee reported that 25 servicemen have deserted from railway units this year because of violent treatment and failure to receive medical help.

Khodyrev Meets Muslim Leader
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev on 25 September met with head of the oblast Muslims Religious Board Umyar Idrisov to discuss the meeting of President Vladimir Putin with Muslim leaders, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported. Idrisov expressed concern about connecting Islam to terrorism and told about plans to hold a congress of Russia�s Muslims to discuss this issue.

Dutch Firms Visit Samara
Rerpesentatives of 25 Dutch companies are visiting Samara to discuss mutual cooperation, reported on 26 September. The visitors are to take part in the opening ceremony of the joint drug producing venture Prana-Farm.

Tyumen Authorities To Check Students for Drugs
Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin has required that the authorities in all higher educational institutions and those who control the last three years of secondary schools check their students for drugs, "Tyumenskaya liniya" reported on 26 September.

Tyumen Anti-Crime Board Head Killed
Colonel Sergei Melnikov, the acting head of the Tyumen Oblast board fighting organized crime, was killed on 22 September, Uralinformbureau reported.

Ingush Diaspora Forms Cultural Center in Tyumen
The Ingush diaspora in Tyumen oblast set up the Ingush Cultural Center Magas, "Tyumenskaya liniya" reported on 24 September. Center head Isa Gadiev said that a summer school there will teach Ingush language and that Ingush culture days will be held annually in late September.

Mosque Restored in Tyumen Oblast
A mosque constructed a hundred years ago has been restored in the Qalmaq village of the Yalutorov raion of Tyumen Oblast, reported on 20 September. Local businessman Mansur Vakhitov financed the project at the support of local authorities and agricultural farms heads.

Veterans of Chechen Campaign to Receive Legal Help
The Tyumen Oblast association of soldiers-veterans of Chechnya and the organization of invalids of the Chechen conflict have opened an office to provide judicial consultations for those groups, "Samotlor-ekspress" reported on 20 September. More than 1,000 oblast residents are members of these organizations.

Victims of Stalin Monument Urged for Tyumen Oblast
Tobolsk residents appealed to city Mayor Yevgenii Vorobyev to erect a memorial of victims of the Stalin GULAG, "Tyumenskaya liniya" reported on 25 September.

Unity In Ulyanovsk Elects Leader
Unity in Ulyanovsk on 20 September has elected Gennadii Slyusarenko as its executive committee head, VolgaInform reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova