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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 21, 2000

21 September 2000
Tatarstan's Parliamentary Speaker Comments On The Federal Tax Reform, Other Initiatives
14 September

Tatarstan's State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin held a press conference on 14 September to comment on the recent session of Russian Federation Council involving the leaders of 18 Russian donor-regions. He said that regional leaders discussed the upcoming federal tax reform, setting the new proportion of tax money to be taken by federal government and to be left at the regions' disposal.

Mukhametshin said "All the sufficient taxes are taken by the center, we get a 70 to 30 proportion instead of 50 to 50 which was stipulated in the inter-budget agreements [between Moscow and the regions]. After the new federal budget is endorsed by the State Duma many of the Russia's territorial entities intend to appeal to the Constitutional Court [on this matter]."

Commenting on the president Vladmir Putin's legislative initiative on prohibiting the Russian regions to independently conclude international treaties Farit Mukhametshin noted "in order to understand this presidential initiative one needs to keep in mind that some of the regions used the international treaties for making up debts exceeding their budget. And for Russian Federation entities, which conclude treaties without guarantees from federal government, this presidential decree would be an obstacle in their activities. Although Tatarstan is attracting investments both under its own and federal government's guarantees. But we have a State Debt Act, which defines the maximum possible amount of the debt and states the ways of paying it off. We are keeping to the internationally accepted norm saying that external loans must not exceed 30% of budget's income. "

Tragedy At Saeskan Tau Caused By Criminal Negligence, Investigators Say
17-21 September

A bus traveling from Kazan to Bazarli Matak with 12 people aboard sank in Kama river when loading on the ferry at Sayeskan Tau at about 16:45 [Moscow time] on 17 September, RFE\RL Kazan Bureau reported the next day. 10 women drawned inside the bus failing to escape, while the bus driver and one passenger managed to survive.

Governmental investigation commission announced on 21 September that the accident was caused by the "criminal negligence of a number of people including the bus driver, the bus company officials in Apas region of TR, its affiliate in Bazarli Matak and Tatarstan's State Transport Inspection." Nevertheless the commission stated that "the true reason of the accident is still unclear."

According to the Respublika Tatarstan newspaper on 20 September, investigators headed by republic's first deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov revealed a number of minor violations by Tatarstan's Road Service, Tatarstan's State Roads Constructing Venture, Tatarstan's River Fleet and some other governmental institutions.

After the tragedy Russian Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev, Russian presidential representative in Volga administrative district Sergey Kiriyenko, State Council Chairman of Daghestan Republic Magomedov, Saratov oblast governor Dmitry Ayatskov and the President of Ingush Republic Ruslan Aushev expressed their condolences on the tragedy in their letters of consolation.

Kazan Newspaper Makes Suppositions On Future Presidential Elections In TR
20 September

Vechernyaya Kazan daily newspaper published an article called "To the new century with the old president?" on 20 September. Author of the article Rustem Falyakhov referred some unofficial sources saying that the next session of Tatarstan's parliament on 22 September will set the date for the coming presidential elections in the republic on 24 December 2000. According to Tatarstan's Constitution the presidential term of Minitmer Shaimiev will be over only by March 2001. According to the article Mintimer Shaimiev used his recent trip to Japan within the Russian governmental delegation "for negotiating with Vladimir Putin, so that he [Shaimiev] could run for his third presidential term violating the Russian Constitution."

The article quoted Tatarstan's presidential advisor Rafael Khakimov saying that "it would be better to hold the presidential elections sooner [than expected], until the local legislation is not adjusted to the Russian laws."

According to the newspaper "the economic reason for urgency of presidential elections lies on the surface. Since the Big treaty on special relations with Moscow is dead, next year the incomes of Tatarstan's budget will slump, the life of Tatarstan's people will deteriorate even more and this will inevitably influence the poll results. As for the possible presidential candidates we can name Tatarstan's parliamentary deputy Alexander Shtanin or a person with similar spirit - State Duma deputy Ivan Grachev. If their Equality and Legality Party [in Tatarstan] decides so, they will run for the president of Tatarstan. So far they have ordered a public opinion poll across the republic. Both Shtanin and Grachev will possible come across some difficulties registering as presidential candidates. According to our legislation an eligible candidate must speak two state languages. Although Russian Supreme Court once already restored the rights of ethnic Russian presidential candidate in Bashkortostan Mr. Arinin."

Russian Duma deputy, leader of Tatarstan's branch of Russian Communist Party Alexander Saliy interviewed by the article's author said that president Shaimiev was not a legitimate president because he won his second term in non-alternate elections. Saliy referred to the American Bill of Rights and Russian Constitution, where the said there was a "conceptual norm limiting the number of presidential terms by 2." In his interview Saliy advised president Shaimiev to "name his successor."

According to the article president Mintimer is expected back from his vacation in Antalya, Turkey on 3 October.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi