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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 14, 2000

14 September 2000
Consent Procedure On Republican Legislation Correcting Starts
13 September

Sergei Kirienko, presidential plenipotentiary representative�to the Privolzhsky federal okrug, said that some local laws which conflict with federal legislation should not be subject to correction, the daily, ""Vremya i Den'gi" reported on 13 September. The newspaper said that Kirienko signed an agreement with the head of the Russian State Duma legislation committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, on joint actions in bringing regional legislation into harmony with federal laws. Krasheninnikov told journalists that the public Legislative Fund he chairs will analyze regional legislative documents and develop a mechanism to allow the selection of laws which are more efficient compared to federal ones, and included Tatarstan's land legislation. The daily cited Kirienko's deputy, Aleksandr Yevstifeyev, as saying that consent procedures on reform of republican legislation have started with participation of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan representatives. Yevstifeyev said that procedure was discussed at the first meeting, and it was agreed that each side will be represented in a consent commission by seven people. He added that by order of the Russian President, consent procedures should be completed by November.

Federal Okrug Official Proposes Amendment of the Tatarstan Constitution to Make Shaimiev Eligible For Third Term
7 September

Vladimir Zorin, deputy presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Privolzhsky federal okrug, told a news conference on 7 September that considering Shaimiev's immense prestige in Tatarstan, it would not be very difficult to adopt the corresponding amendment to the republican constitution." Zorin said that bringing regional constitutions and laws into harmony with the federal legislation will be completed in the okrug by the end of the year. Zorin said that 74 constitution paragraphs and laws in Bashkortostan, and 40 in Tatarstan are to be changed. He added that serious consent procedures are needed on some laws which are considered by the territorial entities to be more developed, and we do not deny this." In some cases, he said, taking political decisions will be necessary. "We don't consider it to be a tragedy, he continued, if some problems are resolved in court" Commenting on the sovereignty issue, Zorin said that during Tatarstan's tenth anniversary celebration, the word 'sovereignty' was often heard. We do not aim to live only according to the Russian Constitution. It [Constitution] also isn't perfect. I personally would be happy if we could solve all problems without dissolving parliaments and fixing new elections. Zorin listed Tatarstan's law on emergency situations, land code, and program on slums clearance as examples of legislative acts which are more developed compared to federal ones. Commenting on Tatarstan's switching to the Latin alphabet, Zorin said that it is a"very expensive procedure, but this decision does not contradict federal legislation. There are no mechanisms of interfering with the procedure.

Bashkortostan Deputies Insist On Nationality Paragraph in New Passport
7 September

Bashkorostan State Assembly appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court to keep in the new Russian passport the nationality designation, the chairman of Bashkortostan parliament, Konstantin Tolkachev, told a briefing on 7 September. Tolkachev informed that five previous appeals to different federal bodies on this issue were unsuccessful. The Russian new passport, in Bashkortiston deputies' opinion, does not permit citizens to exercise their constitutional right to indicate their nationality as indicated in 26 article of the Russian Constitution. They believe the Russian passport should contain a voluntary designation of nationality. Tolkachev said that Bashkortostan's and Tatarstan's position on the issue has a strong legal basis.

Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are the only two Russian Federation entities which still have not introduced the new Russian Federation passport. This step was suspended inTatarstan in 1997 by a State Council decision which insisted on inclusion of a special Tatar-language page in the new passport with the republic's state symbols, indication of republican citizenship. As it was reported at a Russian-wide conference of the heads of passport-visa services in Kazan on 6 September, the new document with this special page is supposed to be issued in Tatarstan starting in January.

U.S. Political Researchers Study Islam Role In Tatarstan
7 September

A delegation from the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) visited Kazan on 4-8 September to study political and social-economic conditions and the current situation in the republic, Tatar-inform reported. The CSIS Islam Program director, Shireen Hunter, and Russian and Eurasian Program coordinator, Jeffrey Thomas, were received on 7 September by Tatarstan deputy State Council chairman Robert Minnullin. The news agency cited Hunter as saying that one of the visit's aims�is research of the Islam's political role in Tatarstan and in Russia as a whole, including its influence on the Russian republics and on relations with territorial entities. The visitors expressed special interest in Tatarstan residents' reactions towards recent initiatives by the Russian President Vladimir Putin to strengthen Moscow's power over the regions.

KamAZ To Get Japanese Credit
8 September

Tatarstan's President, Mintimer Shaimiev, told a governmental meeting in Kazan on 8 September that the KamAZ truck concern has to restructure its debt to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Japanese credit by November. Shaimiev said it was agreed to receive the rest of the Japanese credit at his meetings with the heads of the relevant companies during President Putin's recent visit to Tokyo. He said that Putin firmly stated that this project will be concluded. Shaimiev added that initially the problems with the EBRD credit should be solved, otherwise equipment due to be received would become security. For this, he said, the Russian government should pass the State Duma budget amendments which guarantee the restructuring of half of the KamAZ $141 million debt to the EBRD. Shaimiev reported that Japanese companies expressed their interest to participate in Tatarstan's projects to integrate the Privolzhsky federal okrug territorial entities' petrochemical enterprises. These proposals were sent by Shaimiev to the presidential plenipotentiary representative�to the okrug, Sergei Kirienko. The Japanese credit is a $150 million commodity credit allocated by�the Japanese Ex-Im Bank to KamAZ for design of�a new engine; $75 million has been already been disbursed.

Tatarstan KGB Prevented Intelligence Actions Of Several Foreign Companies And Services
7 September

Rovel' Kashapov, the head of the Tatarstan Security Committee press service, told the republican daily, "Vremya i Den'gi" on 7 September that the republican security bodies have stopped the intelligence activity of several foreign secret services. Kashapov listed representatives of a British airspace company, French firmsTomson and Bouigue, association France Conversion, the French Moscow Embassy employee Brousley, Pakistani intelligence board staff members M.Malik and M.Salam, Korean military secret service agent Li Che Vu who were involved in collecting intelligence data in rocket technologies, aviation, economics, helicopter and ship building. Kashapov said that recently, foreign secret services increased their interest in the republic's defense industry companies.

Russian Political Scientist: Russian President To Cope With Sovereign Republics Presidents
12 September

Rumors on abolition of national republics are natural and organic, political researcher Ol'ga Romanova told IMA-press on 12 September, commenting news on the Kremlin plans to annihilate status of national republics and presidency institution in them. Romanova remembered that national republics and their presidents didn't exist until Yeltsin came to power, and "then total hysteria with sovereignties began." The news agency cited Romanova as saying that currently the trend was replaced with an opposite one, and undoubtedly, there will be wild resistance, but if the President could manage to cope with 89 governors, the more he will cope with Shaimiev, Rakhimov, and Aushev. In her opinion, "no matter what Tatars were � a republic or an autonomous okrug. Now they will be a guberniya � there is no difference." As for the authority, she continued, "it can obtain either the most powerful enemies, or totalitarian features. But are there less or more totalitarian features � this doesn't change the gist of the matter."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova