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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 2, 2000

2 June 2000
Tatar President On Putin Plans To Strengthen Statehood
Tatarstan's President, Mintimer Shaimiev, discussed in Kazan on 18 May the plans the Kremlin has developed to strengthen Russian state and consolidate power. Shaimiev spoke on his return from participation in a Federation Council session and a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shaimiev said that he had had an open and constructive dialogue with the president of Russia concerning the decay of state authority across the Russian Federation. He said that Putin had listed the following principles of state construction: the authority vertical should be formed up and function from the president down to local executive bodies; interaction of the federal authority bodies with those of regions should be performed more efficiently through the newly created federal districts and presidential representatives in them; and executive, legislative, and judicial powers should be promptly separated.

Shaimiev added that according to the draft law about the reordering of the Federation Council, each region will have two representatives to the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, one nominated by a legislative body (the State Council in Tatarstan) and a second proposed by the head of the member of the federation. Leaders of republics and regions and their legislative bodies will lose their membership in the Federation Council, Shaimiev called for the formation of a Council of territorial entities heads to be chaired by the President of Russia in order to present at this level the interests of regions.

Shaimiev said the legislation introduced by Putin grants the president of the Russian Federation the right to dismiss heads of territorial entities if they infringe on the Constitution and other laws as well as to dissolve the regional legislative bodies. The proposed legislation gives regional heads similar power with regard to lower-ranking authority bodies. According to Shaimiev, a large majority of regional heads back this idea because they are sick of anarchy.

Putin Tells Bashkort Legislators To Change Republican Constitution
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Bashkir legislators on 12 May to bring the Constitution of the republic into correspondence with that of the Russian Federation and federal legislation. He sent a letter to the Chairman of Bashkortostan s State Assembly saying that regulation of the republican and federal legislation should be performed on the basis of "the power-sharing Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Bashkortostan."

Putin pointed to several articles in the Constitution which he said "contradict the principles of federative system, among them principles of spreading state sovereignty of the Russian Federation over all its territory, priority of the Russian Constitution and federal laws," and go beyond the bounds of the joint powers of the Russian Federation and Bashkortostan.

Putin added in his letter that the Bashkir Constitution asserts the principle that the republic is a full-right subject of international law with the right to independent participation in international and foreign economic relations, in interstate unions and commonwealths, to conclude international treaties and to exchange diplomatic, consular, and other representations with the right of appointing responsible officials given to the president of Bashkortostan. Putin said "such range of powers of Bashkortostan while performing international and foreign economic relations doesn't follow from the Constitution of the Russian Federation and violates the rights specified by the [power-sharing] Treaty between the Russian Federation and Bashkortostan."

Putin indicated that the republican legislation contradicts the federal one concerning human rights and freedoms, citizenship, realization of the passive suffrage in election of Bashkortostan s president, currency and customs regulation, strengthening monetary and credit systems, ownership for municipal property, appointment of the republic s public prosecutor. He added that the Bashkir Constitution also violates the Russian Constitution by allowing the Bashkir president to declare a state of emergency.

Officials from the administration of the Russian president noted that 15 more decrees are being prepared by President to change regional legislation. Representatives from the presidential administration said there are no plan to send similar appeal to Tatarstan. Mansur Ayupov, the assistant to Bashkir President, told the British newspaper Guardian on 15 May that "imperial ambitions and aspiration for centralization were always [ethnic] Russians' way. Putin to a significant extent is in the course of this tradition." The Guardian indicated that Bashkir President, according to the republican Constitution, should be able to speak Bashkir, while Bashkirs make only 20 percent in the republic s population, and 10 percent in its capital, Ufa. And it cited Ayupov as saying that "the fact that we are a minority is not our fault. One hundred and twenty years ago [here] there were 60 percent of Bashkirs. We are threatened by assimilation and disappearance."

Tatarstan Speaker Accuses Izvestia Of Distorting Information
The Russian daily Isvestia published an article on 13 May with the title "Tatarstan proposes to adjust the Russian Constitution, and to bring it into correspondence with the Constitution of Tatarstan." The article asserts that the chairman of Tatarstan's State Council, Farid Mukhametshin, is attempting to revise the Russian Constitution. Mukhametshin told the press on 15 May the newspaper has distorted the facts. Mukhametshin said the He said that the authors of the article misrepresented the position of the republic's leaders on the issue of unification of two Constitutions.

Tatar Television reported on 15 May that one of the article s authors, Boris Bronshtein, disclaimed authorship, asserting that the text published in Izvestia radically differed from the one he composed. Bronshtein said he did not know why his text was changed and given quite another sense.

Tatarstan's Muslims Board Official Denies Accusation Of Wahhabism
The first deputy Mufti of Tatarstan, Valiulla Khazrat, told the daily Vremya i dengi on 16 May that claims by Supreme Mufti of Russia and CIS European countries, Talgat Tadgetdin, on support by Tatarstan s authorities for wahhabism, reflected jealousy and were absolutely unfounded.

Tadgetdin made his comments in newspaper Vek on 12 May. Tadgetdin expressed there his concern that "active propagation of wahhabism, and not only in the North Caucasus, is being continued." Tadgetdin accused Tatarstan's secular authorities of orienting on the international Islamic centers, and "creating all-Russian Islamic university which is financed and supplied with teachers by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."

Tadgetdin added that those "professing moderate and enlightened Islam first started being forced out of Tataria, and then attempts have followed of capturing mosques in Orenburg oblast, Penza, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Perm, Sverdlovsk oblast, Khanty-Mansi, and Yamal-Nenets okrugs." He added that today state measures of supporting traditional denominations are essential.

Khazrat said that Tadgetdin had offered no proof for his assertion, adding that this claim looks a convenient way of discrediting those he disagrees with. Khazrat added that the Tatarstan clergy s successful cooperation with colleagues from the Arab East is not criminal.

Promeksport General Manager Visits Kazan
Tatar president Mintimer Shaimiev met on 12 May with Sergei Chemezov, the chief of Promeksport, one of two Russian arms exporting companies, to discuss prospects for possible contracts between Tatarstan s defense industry enterprises and Promeksport. Refrigerators, helicopters, the KamAZ trucks, production of Kazan optical-mechanical plant were named by Chemezov. Chemezov said there are several proposals from Indonesia, India, Yugoslavia to purchase production by the POZIS plant in Yeshel Uzen, Tatarstan. POZIS is a leading Russian manufacturer of ammunition for aircraft and naval cannons.

Chemezov reportedly worked in Eastern Germany with Vladimir Putin and later replaced him as deputy business-manager of the president. The daily Vremya i Dengi referred on 12 May to the experts forecasts on future merging of Promeksport with Rosvooruzheniye, Russia's other arms exporting company, and Chemezov s nominee as a possible chief of the new giant. Two weeks earlier, Promeksport absorbed the third Russian arms exporting company, Rossiiskiye Tekhnologii, which was engaged in export of military know-how. Tatarstan has more experience in cooperation with Rosvooruzheniye. Its representation opened in Kazan in 1997.

NTV Shows Puppet Play About Counter-Terrorist Operation In Tatarstan
Russian NTV television "Kukly" program on 14 May satirized a counter-terrorist operation in Tatarstan. The episode entitled "Two decades Later" features forecasts by the army command that the siege of the bandits lair will continue till spring and will be finished by a capturing Kazan with a minimum casualties. Near Alabuga, a special-function group runs into an ambush which contained from a bearded and bald-headed man without both legs and one hand who turned out to be Shamil Basayev. Despite his infirmities, the bandit escapes. But the Russian servicement say that he will eventually be caught.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova.