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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 16, 2001

16 November 2001
State Council Chairman Urges Court To Wait Until Constitution Brought In Full Conformity With Federal Laws
The 15 November edition of the weekly "Zvezda Povolzhya," said Russian Constitutional Court judges "were pleasantly surprised that State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin personally participated in the court's [12 November] session" to hear a challenge of the Tatarstan Constitution and its State Council. The suit was filed by republican resident and businessman Marsel Salyamov. Mukhametshin was the first senior Tatar official to have represented his republic in front of the Constitution Court, thus illustrating the importance and complexity of the current period in Kazan-Moscow relations, the weekly said.

Mukhametshin argued that his republic adopted its constitution before 1993, when Russia's constitution came into force, to explain contradictions between those two key pieces of legislation. Referring to Salyamov's appeal to dissolve the present State Council because it involves regional administration heads who represent the executive branch, Mukhametshin said a dissolution of parliament "would prompt a deep legislative crisis in the republic and destabilize the situation" in Tatarstan. Mukhametshin said the new version of the Tatarstan Constitution, to be discussed by State Council deputies on 21 November, "will solve all the issues" raised by Salyamov.

Pro-Kremlin Agency Says Moscow Patience With Kazan Running Thin information service, commenting on the Russian Constitutional Court hearings in the Salyamov case on 12 November, said, "'Tataria' authorities promised to bring their constitution into conformity with the Russian one long ago. When the court received Salyamov's claim, Kazan immediately asked the court to delay the hearings to allow it to eliminate the legislative contradictions by itself, but...patience ran out."

Federal Official Identifies Likely Changes In Tatarstan Constitution
Aleksandr Yevstifeev, deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, said on 13 November, "So far I'm unable to say anything concrete about what kind of constitution Tatarstan would have." But he added, "We can say that there are some violations that should be withdrawn [from the new constitution]. They are the norms regarding the republic's sovereignty as an independent state, its status as a subject of international law, and Tatarstan's state language[s]."

According to Yevstifeev, roughly 80 legal acts adopted by Tatar legislators were classified as violating federal laws by Volga district prosecutors.

Prime Minister Troubled By Growing Social Expenditures
While much of Tatarstan's media has hailed a government decision to increase the share of expenses on social security from some 40 percent in 2001 to about 60 percent in 2002, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told Efir TV on 15 November that he was "concerned about the growing budget expenses in the social sphere, because if this dangerous trend resumes there won't be enough funds left for other expenditures."

New Federal Taxation System Cuts Tatarstan's Revenues
Recent federal tax reforms will deliver to Moscow some 60 percent of Tatarstan's tax revenues in 2002 and only allow the republic to fill its budget based on such hard-to-collect taxes as those on property, land, and excise duties. Although Tatarstan has a right to keep only 24 percent of the income tax collected on its territory (about 5 billion rubles, or $168 million), that source represents the republic's biggest share of revenues.

Tatar Nationalist Movement Leaders Invited For Interviews By Prosecutor's Office
The Federal Security Service (FSB) is investigating the circumstances of the meeting to mark the anniversary of the capture of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible on 14 September, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 15 November. The paper said that about a dozen leaders of the Tatar nationalist movement in Chally, including the head of the Ittifaq party, Fauzia Bayramova, "were invited [in] by the city prosecutor's office."

Mob Conflicts Shake Chally...
A recent series of murders of alleged Chally mob leaders and businessmen has demonstrated that Tatarstan's second city is becoming a criminal capital within the republic, the weekly "Vostochnyi Ekspress" weekly reported on 16 November. The newspaper quoted unnamed Chally interior bodies officials as saying that this "created an unprecedented situation that is impossible to control."

...As Criminal World Sets New Rules Of Existence
Colonel Anatolii Ignatyev, the chief of the militia department to combat organized crime, told "Vostochnyi Express" on 16 November that three so-called "legalized thieves" ["vori v zakone"] -- or crime barons -- resided in Tatarstan. None is able to take on the entire republic because the modern underworld has rejected the hierarchy that reigned in Russian for decades before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he added.

KamAZ Workers Urge Dismissal Of Petersburg Team Persons From The Concern
Gumer Nurtdinov, the head of trade unions at the KamAZ automotive concern, was expected to hand a petition signed by KamAZ workers to board chairman and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov during the company's shareholders meeting in Moscow on 15 November, Russian and Tatar news agencies reported. The workers are urging Klebanov to sack the recently appointed KamAZ vice president for corporate planning, Anton Troyanov, and the director of KamAZ's trade-financing company Aleksandr Kiryanov, both part of the so-called "St. Petersburg team" said to be representing the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two are accused in the document of "causing the general deterioration of the situation at KamAZ, including growing [unpaid] wages."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Opposition Newspaper Says Battle For Presidential Post Has Begun
"Otechestvo," a publication of the Russian public movement Rus, on 5 November cited rumors that General Engels Kulmukhametov, the head of the Bashkortostan Tax Police, is seeking to run for the republican presidency in the next elections and will likely soon be appointed deputy prime minister or prime minister.

The paper reported that a "struggle for inheritance" of the presidency has begun and that Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov has joined in as well. The paper said Baidavletov now visits hockey matches, not with [Speaker Konstantin] Tolkachev and [President Murtaza] Rakhimov, but with his "own" people: Finance Minister Foat Khantimerov and Ufa Mayor Rauf Nugumanov.

Tadjuddin Says Anti-Afghan Military Actions Are Not Fighting Terrorism
In an interview published in "Trud" on 14 November, the Supreme Mufti of the Central Religious Board of Muslims in Russia, Talgat Tadjuddin, said an "Islamic threat" was inspired artificially. He said military actions in Afghanistan are not a struggle against terrorists, since the entirety of people cannot be held responsible for terrorists' actions. Tadjuddin promoted training Muslim clergy in Russia rather than abroad.

He also criticized efforts to establish institutions that would parallel his board, including those in Buguruslan, Ulyanovsk Oblast, Mordovia, Sverdlovsk Oblast, and Siberia, and accused some of them of spreading Wahhabism. He called for the creation of centers for "reconciliation and concord" between representatives of all of Russia's traditional faiths.

Analyst Promotes Merger Of Federation Members
"Expert" on 5 November published an article discussing the prospects of merging Russia's regions under a law on the acceptance and instatement of new federation members in Russia after ratification by the Duma. Maksim Dianov, the director of the Institute of Regional Issues, said the existence of seven federal districts does not always take into account traditional economic ties between regions -- including Perm Oblast and Bashkortostan, which were included in the Volga district despite always being considered "Ural regions." Dianov said a merger of federation members, closely linked to each other geographically and economically, could compensate to some extent for this contradiction.

New Mosque Added To Extensive List In Sterlebash Raion
A new mosque opened in the Sterlebash Raion village of Karagysh, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 9 November. Chief Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin was in attendance. It was noted at the ceremony that mosques have now been constructed in virtually all villages in the raion.

Criminal Statistics Spike Under Watchful Eyes Of Federal Prosecutors
The crime rate in Ufa jumped by 40 percent during the first 10 months of 2001 compared to the same period last year, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 11 November. Tagir Farrakhov, the head of the Ufa interior board, said sharp growth followed checks on Bashkortostan Interior Ministry activities by Volga federal district prosecutors. Federal officials reported 2,000 crimes that had not been registered by the republican interior bodies.

Instruction In Latysh Introduced In Bashkortostan School
Instruction in the Latysh language began in the Arkhlatysh village within the Arkhangel Raion, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 12 November. That local school became the third in Russia where Latysh is taught.

Tatar Intellectuals Gather To Discuss Bashkortostan Condition
A forum of Bashkortostan's Tatar intellectuals is due to meet on 17 November to discuss the conditions of Tatars in Bashkortostan, the necessity of creating a permanently functioning organization of Tatar intellectuals, problems in Tatar education, and preparations for the upcoming census.

Bashinformsvyaz Leads Russia's Regional Communications Companies
Bashkortostan's Bashinformsvyaz communications company leads Russia's regional telephone operators in terms of the number of telephones being put into operation annually, Biznes-Novosti Urala reported on 10 November. The company will introduce more than 20,000 telephone lines by the end of the year.

Bashkir School To Open In Magnitogorsk
Altaf Gaifullin, the head of the executive committee of the Magnitogorsk Bashkirs Congress, met with Magnitogorsk Deputies Assembly Chairman Mikhail Sofronov to discuss the development of Bashkir education in the city, Bashinform reported. The two agreed on opening the first Bashkir school in the city, where 60,000 Bashkirs reside, the agency said.

DPR Branch Created In Bashkortostan
A conference of the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) in Bashkortostan discussed and approved a charter and a party program before electing its local leadership, Bashinform reported on 12 November. Participants said their main aim is the revival of the democratic movement in Bashkortostan.

Belebei Raion Newspaper To Be Issued In Three Language
"Belebeevskiye Izvestiya," a raion newspaper issued in the Belebei Raion, will also be published in the Bashkir language beginning from 2002, Bashinform reported. Previously, it was issued in Russian and Tatar.

Union Leader Says Bashkortostan's Workers Enjoy Better Conditions
Bashkortostan's trade union leaders held a conference to mark a country-wide labor action on 14 November, Bashinform reported. Amirkhan Samirkhanov, the leader of the republic's trade unions federation, said workers' rights have come under attack in recent years in Russia. But in Bashkortostan, he said, workers are provided better conditions -- mainly due to the support of President Murtaza Rakhimov, in his words.

Children Increasingly Involved In Serious Crimes
Interior Colonel Galina Karimova said on 9 November that crimes perpetrated by minors are becoming more serious, including murder and drug trafficking. There are 10-year-old children among drug addicts registered by interior bodies, she said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chuvashia, Sakhalin Oblast To Boost Ties
Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov and Sakhalin Oblast Governor Igor Fakhrutdinov signed an agreement on bilateral economic, scientific, and technological cooperation, reported on 8 November. The agency cited Chuvash business leaders as saying the document provides the republic's companies with at least 800 million rubles ($27 million) in orders annually.

Last Two Presidential Candidates Registered In Chuvashia
Chuvashia's Central Electoral Commission on 12 November registered Igor Kashaev, the head of the Russian Union of Veterans of Afghanistan in Chuvashia, and Vladimir Maiorov, the general manager of the Poretsk brick plant, as presidential candidates, reported. Six candidates in total will campaign in Chuvashia, including Duma Deputy (KPRF) Valentin Shurchanov, FSB General Lieutenant Stanislav Voronov, incumbent President Nikolai Fedorov, and SPS's Chuvash leader Nikolai Grigoryev.

Political Journalists Guild Opens Volga District Branch
The Volga district department of a political journalists' guild was established in Saransk at a meeting of Media-union, reported on 13 November. The editors in chief of "Izvestia Mordovii" and "Saratovskiye vesti," Valerii Maresyev and Tatyana Artemova, were elected co-chairs of the body.

One In Four Mordovia Residents Suffers From Alcoholism
Anatolii Ivanov, the head of a local anti-drug clinic, said on 10 November that one in four adult residents of Mordovia suffers from alcoholism, reported. He said the number of such patients has increased by 20 percent this year.

Perm Cossacks Seek Land
Cossacks in the Perm Oblast appealed to the local administration to allot them lands where disbanded military bases had been located, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 9 November. Currently, Cossacks patrol Perm together with local interior bodies.

Khodyrev Asks Nemtsov To Promote Law On Alternative Civil Service
Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Gennadii Khodyrev appealed to SPS leader Boris Nemtsov to step up adoption of a law on alternative service. Nizhnii Novgorod oblast and city recruiting bodies are taking controversial positions on the issue; the city commission hands out permission for alternative service while the oblast body objects to the practice.

Perm Human Rights Activists Win Suit On Alternative Civil Service
Perm resident Mikhail Fadeev and his lawyer, Roman Maranov, representing the Perm Human Rights Center, won a suit against local enlistment bodies and obtained permission for Fadeev to spend his alternative civil service in the Perm Memorial department -- in line with his stated religious convictions, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 13 November. Maranov has already won 34 alternative-service cases, including two in which civil service was permitted due to draftees' religious convictions.

Bus Drivers Strike For Higher Wages In Samara
Samara bus drivers on 9 November held a 12-hour strike seeking wage hikes, reported. The strike ended after a meeting with city administration heads, who reportedly promised to satisfy strikers' demands. Later the administration released a statement calling the action "a political order aiming to form negative opinion on the activities of city authorities."

Ayatskov Proposes To Abolish 7 November Holiday
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov proposed abolishing celebrations on 7 November, saying that it is a "black day" in Russian history, reported. "Neither concord nor reconciliation are taking place in our society," Ayatskov said.

Rossel, Latyshev Meet To Discuss Political Situation In Sverdlovsk Oblast
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel on 13 November met with the presidential envoy to the Ural federal district, Petr Latyshev, to discuss the situation in the oblast, reported. Latyshev said following the meeting that the two agreed on the necessity of joint efforts to bring the Sverdlovsk Oblast's charter into line with federal legislation. Latyshev praised Rossel's intention to more actively promote public consolidation and civic tranquility in the oblast.

Sverdlovsk Duma Passes 2002 Budget On First Reading
The Sverdlovsk Oblast Duma on 13 November passed in its first reading the oblast's proposed 2002 budget, UralBusinessConsulting reported. The Duma held its first session under special regulations after it could not muster a quorum for several months. Deputies took their decisions by a simple majority of 15 votes in place of a quorum of 19 votes, a process that some deputies consider illegal.

Prosecutor Rejects Lawsuit Against Orthodox Eparchy
Sverdlovsk Oblast prosecutors rejected a suit by the Jewish national-cultural autonomy against the Yekaterinburg Eparchy, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 13 November. Autonomy leader Mikhail Oshtrakh said the eparchy distributed anti-Semitic literature. The oblast's 16 national-cultural autonomies, including Bashkir, German, Roman, Tatar, Tajik, Kazakh, Yakut, Greek, and Chechen, appealed to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Yekaterinburg Eparchy to stop the distribution of publications inspiring ethnic and religious hostility, the agency said.

Radioactive Substance Peddler Detained In Yekaterinburg
The Federal Security Service (FSB) in Sverdlovsk Oblast arrested an individual who tried to sell three containers with radioactive cobalt-60 inside, reported on 13 November, referring to the FSB's press service in the oblast. The containers, which emitted 2,000 times the normal level of radiation, were reportedly stolen from an industrial enterprise.

Interior Bodies Seize 14 Kilograms Of Heroin
The anti-drug department of the Yekaterinburg interior board seized more than 14 kilograms of heroin in the house of 76-year-old Yevdokiya Kuneshova, Uralinformbureau reported on 14 November.

Rural Teachers In Sverdlovsk Oblast Go On Strike
More than 100 schoolteachers in the Pyshma Raion of the Sverdlovsk Oblast held a disobedience action on 12 November to demand payment of back wages, reported. The educators have not been paid for three months.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova