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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 29, 2000

29 June 2000
Putin Says Federal Laws Should Be Changed: Tatar Politicians Comment
26 June 2000

The state adviser to the Tatarstan President, Rafail Khakimov, said that an analysis of regional laws showed that it would be irrational to bring them blindly into correspondence with federal legislation, and that such changes would give Vladimir Putin grounds to state that in some cases federal laws should be changed. Khakimov's commented on Putin's policy in Kazan on 23 June at a meeting on the catastrophic aftermath of a hurricane in Tatarstan. It was noted at the meeting that Tatarstan's law on emergency situations is better than the federal one. Putin stated that if a federal law is not adequate it should be changed, but it should take effect on the country's entire territory. The president also pointed out that some issues are undoubtedly better resolved in Tatarstan better than in the Russian Federation.

In Khakimov's opinion, the Land Code adopted in Tatarstan cannot be abolished actually since some land has already been privatized and to abrogate this law would mean to take land away from private owners -- this is politically unacceptable. Khakimov said that bringing laws into harmony with federal ones is real and justified for such territorial entities where only a few new laws have been adopted -- not to mention crucial legislation such one on land ownership. For republics such as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, however, which have adopted over 300 laws each -- and some of these laws are more advanced than those of the Russian Federation -- it is impossible. At the same time, Khakimov did not exclude the possibility that Putin paid Tatarstan a compliment so that he would receive support similar to what he got at the presidential election. He said that in any case, Putin needs political support, and Shaimiev's figure is symbolic. Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are donors [to the Russian Federation budget] -- a vital factor in politics and economics -- and they should be taken into consideration.

Political scientist Midkhat Farukshin believes that the plan to correct federal laws was proposed to Putin by Sergei Kirienko, his representative in the Volga region, after analysis of regional legislation. At the same time, in Farukshin s opinion, very few federal laws can become an object for correction while the principle of bringing regional laws into correspondence with federal laws will be kept. Farukshin also said it is likely that pressure upon Putin has been exerted by regional leaders who are unhappy about interference into regional affairs and do not support the planned project of shearing regional laws.

Tatarstan And Egypt Ready To Cooperate
26 June 2000

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, invited Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev to participate in several foreign official visits of Russian delegations, Tatar-inform reported. Shaimiev made this fact known during a meeting with the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Egypt to the Russian Federation Reda Akhmet Shekhata in Kazan on 26 June. Shekhata told Shaimiev about preparation for Putin's visit to the Near East at the end of the year. He said he wishes Tatarstan would give a new impulse for the development of Russian-Egyptian relations. Shaimiev said the new President of Russia wants to activate both internal and foreign policy. He said Tatarstan will do everything he can so that the Russian Federation took civilized decisions in the state system and foreign policy. Shekhata said participation of Shaimiev will become a double joy both for Egypt and its President Mubarak, and will give guarantees for success. The Ambassador said that Putin's recent visit to Kazan is a wise decision which solves many problems not only within the country but also those which arise in the Arab world. The head of Tatarstan's presidential Foreign Relations Department, Timur Akulov, told Tatar-inform that personal relations between the presidents of Egypt and Tatarstan should promote more developed cooperation between the two sides. Last year, a trade turnover between Tatarstan and Egypt made $80 million. Akulov also expressed his hope that a joint venture will soon be initiated to assemble KamAZ trucks.

Mukhametshin On Tatarstan's Historical Potential
24 June 2000

The "Respublika Tatarstan" daily published on 24 June an article by the chairman of Tatarstan s State Council Farid Mukhametshin where he marked the significance of the 2oth century for the Tatar people as a period of struggle for revival of its statehood, getting a worthy place within the being renovated Russian Federation and in the worldwide community. The article titled "The Historical Potential of Tatarstan on the Eve of the Third Millenium," is devoted to the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Tatar Autonomy Soviet Socialist Republic. Mukhametshin noted that current unitary trends which come into force among certain political circles causes anxiety. We can hear again as it was in early 90 s calls towards radical reducing the rights of national republics, unification of the statutes of the Federation s territorial entities, changing the country's administrative-territorial arrangement. He continued that our position of principle is the fact that strength of Russia should grow through increasing independence and responsibility of the Federation's territorial entities. Any reforms aimed at revival and prosperity of the Russian Federation should first of all be reached through common consent.

Likhachev Declined Post of Presidential Representative to Siberia
22 June 2000

Vasilii Likhachev, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union and former speaker of the Tatarstan parliament, told reporters in Kazan on 22 June that he was proposed by Vladimir Putin the post of the presidential plenipotentiary representative in Siberia district a month ago, and he refused. Likhachev came to Kazan to participate in the 5th nationwide media festival All Russia-2000 held on 20-23 June. He said he listed several arguments during a meeting with Putin, saying that the work in the European diplomatic capital should not been stopped half-way. Commenting on the arrest of Vladimir Gusinsky, Likhachev said that in any case, in accordance with the principles of civic society, we should have been informed on what claims the prosecutor s office had toward Gusinsky.

Media Freedom In Tatarstan Above Russian Average
23 June 2000

The Secretary General of the Russian Journalists Union, Igor Yakovenko, told Tatar-inform on 23 June that conditions of media freedom in Tatarstan are a little above the average, and that comparisons to many other regions are apt since there is no region in the Russian Federation where the situation is satisfactory. Yakovenko, who participated in the media festival All Russia-2000 held in Kazan, said that Tatarstan and Bashkortostan differ in this index greatly, since the Bashkortostan regime is not even autocratic but closer to totalitarian. An index of media freedom presented to the festival participants stated that Tatarstan holds 19th place. Moscow tops the list, followed by St. Petersburg. Bashkortostan with its 10 points is on the last 81st place. He considers the authority vertical to be very strong in Tatarstan, and major part of media is on pro-Shaimiev position, however, there is a real pluralism between media and there are quite many those independent from government. He said authority will always try to gain an influence over media, including in the West, but we stand for doing that using civilized methods. He said in Bashkortostan such methods are wooden and autocratic, while in Tatarstan they are more lenient.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova