31 August 2000
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Tatarstan President Defends Sovereignty Course
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, at a 29 August State Council session opposed the recent ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court aimed at depriving Russian national republics their sovereighty during a speech on the 10th anniversary of Tatarstan's sovereignty declaration. Shaimiev said that "more and more often recently, they state--even at the highest level--that republics of the Russian Federation cannot have even limited sovereignty. This opinion, sanctified by an official ruling of the Russian Constitutional Court, evokes frank astonishment and regret. In the opinion of numerous independent experts, the Court's ruling is a political rather than a juridical one. It ignored the will of the multinational republic which voted repeatedly for sovereignty through a referendum and elections. It looks as if the respected Court has not considered one of the basic constitutional principles--democracy." Shaimiev went on to note the need for maintaining strong executive vertical power as well as further strengthening of parliament's role; developing local self-government and the multiparty system as main directions for the next stage of reforming Tatarstan's political system.
Freedom of speech was singled out by Shaimiev as the greatest achievement of social life over last decade. He said "glasnost' is an attribute of normal civilized relations between people, and that public institutions have brought numerous constructive but complex features into our life. In many respects, due to the activities of over 500 media representatives, more residents take a more effective part in solving current problems of social development. Printed and electronic mass media in our republic have became the generally acknowledged fourth branch of power. Over a half of the republican media are private. Of the total number of media outlets, 53 percent are published in the Russian language, the rest--in Tatar or a mixture of Tatar and Russian."
Unlike other Russian regions, Shaimiev commented, the practice of electing local administration heads was not introduced in the republic--a point on which he often faced criticism. He noted that Tatarstan had instead "decided to gradually widen local self-government as financial conditions were created and democratic institutions became stronger. As a matter of fact, Vladimir Putin, in his attempts to restore ability of the state power system to be governed, is doing now what we did in the republic in recent years."
Shaimiev expressed his doubt about the creation of federal okrugs. He said that "the reasons for the creation of federal okrugs are not quite clear to us, particularly since they are not envisaged in the present Constitution. It will be difficult to find a place for them in the state power system. The territorial entities' powers should not be decreased--the territories' ability to be governed would be lost, and federal ministries and departments would hardly give up their powers. In these conditions, it is most reasonable for the federal okrugs to be concentrated on the uneasy activity of coordinating territorial entities' interests, first of all, in the economic sphere."
Commenting on contradictions between the constitutions and legislation of Tatarstan and the Russian Federation, he noted one must "find step-by-step solutions using consent procedures. It is no secret that our legislation rather often is in advance of federal laws. The Land Code is the shining example in this respect; for two years it has been successfully applied in the republic. There is no such a law at the federal level--a fact which delays land reform in Russia. It would be more logical if we did not change this code, the more so that land has already been privatized. Rather, Russia should take into account the experience of Tatarstan and several other regions and adopt a similar law." Shaimiev also said that the heads of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan had addressed a letter to Vladimir Putin proposing the formation of a consent commission to consider contradictory issues. The commission could take decisions on each specific occasion and recommend ways to bring laws of the two republics into harmony with federal legislation, or amendment to federal legislation.Sovereignty Stimulated Growth Of Science
The president of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences, Mansur Khasanov, summed up the development of science in the republic over the period of sovereignty in an article published in the daily, "Respublica Tatarstan" on 25 August. Tatarstan could form its first Academy of Sciences only after declaring sovereignty, Khasanov wrote. He reminded his readers that Tatarstan in its scientific-technical potential had surpassed some former union republics. Nevertheless, due to its "autonomous" status, it did not have the right to create an Academy of Sciences. He noted that sovereignty gave additional incentive for the development of Tatarstan's scientific potential. The most significant achievements were the development of Tatarstan's social-economic, legislative, and political models and the scientific basis for a state-juridical mechanism for a power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan. In the humanities, and political and economic sciences. Khasanov noted over 20 treaties and 5 agreements with the scientific academies of foreign countries and other Russian republics. Among the most important achievements of international cooperation, he mentioned the building of a 1.5-meter telescope and joint observatory near Antalia within the framework of an agreement with Turkey's Science and Technology Committee.Creative Unions On Sovereignty Fruits
The creative intelligentsia discussed on 24 August the development of culture during the period of sovereignty fostered by writers, journalists, composers, artists and other creative people. It was noted that a revolution in the sphere of culture had taken place during the last decade when priorities of the creative process had been revised. State Council deputy chairman, Robert Minnullin, noted that until then the themes of many ot today's works would have been forbidden by censorship. He said that the republic, by continuing the function of creative unions, had preserved its intellectual potential. He added that the most important achievement over the last decade has been the strengthening of the republic's democratic institutions.
Rimma Ratnikova, the chairman of Tatarstan's journalists union, told the plenum that the brightest successes were reached in the cultural sphere. She said that if we try a little, we could show the world Tatarstan's cultural model. Ratnikova continued that the real boom took place in mass media. The republic, she said, earlier had been told its place concerning even in such a petty issue as whether it can found a youth magazine. An indirect attribute of statehood was creation of the information agency Tatar-inform, since in the former Soviet Union only "union" republics had the right to have their own information agencies.
The plenum adopted a resolution on further development of Tatarstan's culture which gave priority to the ideas of democracy, federalism, self-determination; the free development of Russian and Tatarstan peoples; readiness to serve the multinational people of the republic; and strengthening and developing its culture.KamAZ To Boost Ties With Bashkortostan Companies
A governmental meeting devoted to the increasing cooperation between the KamAZ truck concern and Bashkortostan companies was held in Chally, Tatar-inform reported on 24 August. The first meeting at a governmental level of the KamAZ delegation and their partners from Bashkortostan took place on 20 July in Ufa. Over 17,000 KamAZ trucks are currently in use in Bashkortostan, and 400 million rubles' worth of production is delivered annually to the concern from the neighboring republic.
The delegation head, Bashkortostan First Deputy Prime Minister Sigakov, noted that the new stage of economic development in the Russian Federation needs more active cooperation between regions and enterprises. He said that extending cooperation between KamAZ and Bashkortostan companies--as well as joint commercial exhibition of the two republics' companies in Tuimazy, Bashkortostan in October--will stimulate more activity in the agreement on economic cooperation between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan which was signed in 1992.
According to a negotiated protocol signed in Chally, the range of KamAZ' partners in Bashkortostan will be increased. The concern will be provided with equipment and spare parts produced by Bashkort companies. The prospects for the exchange of old engines of agricultural machines for those produced at KamAZ were also discussed. It was agreed with the Bashkort government that state support will be given to the KamAZ service centers on Bashkortostan territory.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova