7 September 2000
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Tatarstan's Muslim Leader Joins World Religious Summit
The Chairman of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board (MRB), Gusman khazret Iskhaki, made a speech to the UN Millennium of Peace summit for the world's religious leaders on 4 September in New York, the MRB press service reported. The key component of Gusman khazret's speech was that today there are threats against peace around the world. If at all possible, world religious leaders must try to prevent such a catastrophe. Tatarstan's Muslim leader noted that he "would not exclude religious leaders from their share of responsibility for religious-based conflicts." He said that religious leaders in every country should conduct dialogues with governments on society's moral revival. Gusman Iskhaqi said that he could "proudly state that within the last millenium, which had its difficult periods for Moslems in Tatarstan, they have remained faithful to the principles of peaceful co-existence and common sense. Although all world religions are represented in Tatarstan, Islam and Christianity are the most wide-spread." He said that Tatarstan Moslem Religious Board tries to maintain inter-ethnic and inter-confessional consent and to advance the Moslem education system. In Gusman khazret's words "we wish that Russia was a home to the same kind of inter-confessional relations as in Tatarstan." The Tatar Moslem leader stated that the political solution of the Chechen conflict in Russia was not just an alternative to military action, but the only possible development.
Russian Media On Russian Federation Perspectives
The Russian information agency RIA Novosti reported on 5 September that power-sharing treaties between the Russian government and the Russian regions would no longer be concluded, referring to an unnamed high-ranking representative of the Kremlin staff. The unnamed Kremlin official said that there were 46 such treaties so far, and they would not be prolonged after their 5 years validity term expires. According to the Russian media on 4 September, the Russian presidential representative in the North-West administrative district, Victor Cherkesov, said that the power-sharing treaties with Russian Federation entities have "politically -- and even more legally -- run their course." "Vremya MN" newspaper reported on 6 September that the anonymous Kremlin official "did not conceal that he had stated a position which would soon gain official status. In his words, instead of these treaties, the Kremlin intends to adopt federal laws to regulate relations with the federal center equally for all subjects of Russian Federation." On 5 September, Gazeta.ru Internet newspaper [www.gazeta.ru] published an article saying that "Moscow wants to unilaterally abolish the special status of ethnic republics." Gazeta.ru presented the example of Tatarstan, saying that "its authorities still cannot get a clear answer from the capital [Moscow] on whether the treaty with Kazan which expired in spring will be prolonged." The newspaper predicted that if the treaty is not prolonged, Tatarstan would suffer "serious financial losses," because it currently "keeps the major portion" of collected taxes. Gazeta.ru also pointed out that Moscow had a special power-sharing treaty with the Russian government which offered it more advantageous conditions compared to other Russian regions.
Reaction In Tatarstan To New Russian State Council
In their interviews with Tatarstan's media, some republic officials commented on the recent decree of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the formation of the Russian State Council. The advisor to Tatarstan's president on political affairs, Rafael Khakimov, told the republican press on 7 September that "he had a positive assessment of the creation of the State Council. The Russian Federation needs a state body which meets the interests of Russia's territorial entities? Now regional leaders will have a place to discuss and resolve our country's most important problems. One such problem is the development of federative relations and the major role here belongs to the subjects of federation. In my opinion, it is quite symbolic that the presidium of Russian State Council involved the politicians who formed the Otechestvo-Vsya Rossia movement. No matter what some might say or what prognoses were made, there never was a more respected organization in the political life of Russia."
Feride Gaynullina, Russian Duma deputy representing Tatarstan and the deputy chairwoman of Otechestvo-Vsya Rossia faction, told reporters the same day that "it was a reasonable decision to form the State Council. But there's also a question emerging: What will the new Federation Council do, will it be able to handle problems, for example, in regard to declarations of a state of emergency, or appointments or dismissals of the Russian Prosecutor General? It is logical that Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shamiev became a member of State Council's presidium. It is known that he refused to become the head of the Privolzhsky federal district since he wants to stay in his native republic. But his vast political experience just could not have been dismissed. [That would go against] the interests of the entire country. Concerning the reviving popularity of OVR [Otechestvo-Vsya Rossia], I can say that this is the only organization, which did not change its political niche after the elections."
Tufan Minnulin, Tatar writer and deputy to Tatarstan's parliament, told journalists after the decree on the formation of the State Council was endorsed: "until the entire system of government does not change its attitude to the people, there will be no use from any of the newly formed structures. Creation of the federal districts, establishment of the Russian State Council and the recent ruling of Russian Constitutional Court [abolishing the sovereignty of republics within Russian Federation] is a game. The reality is the desire of the Russian state to live on at the expense of its own citizens. And it is not known when this process will be stopped."
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi