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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 23, 2000

23 November 2000
Shaimiev Calls Not To Hasten Changing Russian Main Law�
22 November

Tatarstan's President, Mintimer Shaimiev, proposed not to hurry with considering the issue on adoption of the new Russian Constitution, APN reported on 22 November. In his opinion, the "work is to be held step by step." He said it is necessary to solve a lot of questions including those concerning the relations between the central authorities and territorial entities before considering the possibility of adopting new Russian Constitution. The Tatar President is convinced that the number of issues of common responsibility will reduce in the course of the work on the improving relations between the federal authorities and territorial entities.

�Though Says It Isn't Ideal
20 November

Mintimer Shaimiev told the Russian daily, "Vremya novostei" on 20 November that the Russian Constitution cannot be considered to be ideal. But the issue of perfecting it isn't discussed as well, he said, no editing terms are fixed, no suggestions are made. Shaimiev commented on the legislation harmonizing process saying that "the question has not been solved about what to do with the federal laws which are behind those of territorial entities, more advanced ones. It hasn't still defined what shape amendments should be proposed to the State Duma in." Shaimiev stressed that a paragraph is to be included into the federal Constitution that some of the laws, for example those concerning national interests of territorial entities, can be adopted only on a basis of consensus in the parliament. "I mean laws," he said, "which deal with the issues of languages, confessional identity, cultural development. In these cases, decisions are not to be accepted by a majority of votes since then interests of separate peoples will never be observed," the Tatar President concluded.

Patriarch Agrees Divine Mother Icon To Be Returned To Kazan
22 November

Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev and Patriarch Aleksii II agreed to join efforts for returning the sacred Kazan icon of Divine Mother meeting in Moscow on 22 November, Russian agencies reported. Patriarch said that he "is for all the sacred things which had been moved out of the country to be gradually returned back." Aleksii II expressed his hope that the meeting will become an impulse for the returning of the icon, and it will be given back by 2005 when the Kazan 1000th anniversary is celebrated.

Vatican, in Patriarch's words, didn't suggest the Russian Orthodox Church any negotiations on the issue, and the Church itself in such conditions cannot initiate the talks. Aleksii II said that according to the negotiations with the Pope the Kazan Mayor had in Vatican, they said they will be thinking over. Let's wait for their reaction, he added.

Shaimiev told reporters after the meeting that the sides "reached understanding in this issue, and if Vatican expresses its kind accord, we hope that our common efforts will bring to the result we wish." The Russian daily, "Segodnya," cited on 23 November the Tatarstan presidential spokesman, Irek Murtazin, as commenting the situation that now "everything is at the Pope's mercy. We have done everything we could. After today's meeting, there are no obstacles on the side of the Orthodox Church. Aleksii II is ready to come to Kazan and meet the icon if Vatican decides to give it back. The next step is to be done by the Pope."

During the meeting, the Patriarch highly evaluated the experience of inter-confessional cooperation in Tatarstan. Three years earlier, the Russian Orthodox Church head visited Tatarstan and met the Tatar President.

New Russian Passport Issue Still Not Solved
17 November

Fandas Safiullin, a State Duma deputy representing Tatarstan, demanded to stop issuing new Russian passports arguing that they contain state symbols which haven't been legally confirmed, so the documents are "forgery," Interfax reported on 17 November. The deputy also protested the lack of "nationality" paragraph in the new identity document. The Russian agency "Economics and Politics News" reminded that left-wing Duma factions repeatedly raised the passport and symbols issue calling to replace the Russian Empire double-headed eagle with the soviet state crest. The agency commented that Safiullin's initiative is quite different as it is caused by a desire of the Russian national minorities representatives not to be mixed within the united state organism, makes a basis for endless "sovereignization" projects, and arouse serious apprehension.

Three years before, Tatarstan's State Council stopped giving the new Russian passports on the republic's territory demanding to include into the document a special page being filled in Tatar language and containing Tatarstan's state symbols and space for "nationality" and "republican citizenship" paragraphs. Safiullin, then the republican parliament deputy, was one of the initiators the decision to be adopted.

Kazan Anniversary Celebration Commission Appointed
21 November

The Russian Government confirmed members of the state commission to prepare for Kazan 1000th anniversary celebration, RIA Novosti reported on 21 November. According to the decision signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko, Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev, Russian Press, Television and Media Affairs Minister Mikhail Lesin, Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi, Russian Arts Academy President, Zurab Tsereteli were included.

Democrats For Division Of Power
22 November

Tatarstan's Supreme Court tried on 22 November a claim of representatives from public movement Ravnopraviye i Zakonnost', Efir-Inform reported. The organization leaders appealed to the Court asking to consider if the employment in the executive bodies is combinable with the status of the republic's deputy. The claimants mean, first of all, the heads of local administrations that are at the same time Tatarstan's State Council deputies. Currently of 130 State Council deputies, 56 are officials of different levels. The trial was postponed for 29 November.

Republican Opposition Daily On Organized Criminality In Tatarstan
21 November

The republican daily, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 21 November that "the annual turnover of the means owned by organized criminal groups in Tatarstan, according to some data, is equal to the republic's budget." The daily announced the direct line for its readers to be held with heads of the republican Organized Criminality Fighting Board. The newspaper informed that "non-returns" of money which have been transferred from Tatarstan to Western banks and invested into Western economy is evaluated by independent experts to be $3 billion's worth. Tatarstan is of interest for Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ural, and Siberian organized criminal groups. There are "influence spheres" in the republican economics controlled by several local criminal communities which unite 17 criminal groups, and over 60 independent criminal gangs. The organized criminal groups has currently some 2,000 armed fighters. The Russian State Duma and Tatarstan's State Council elections showed high interest of criminality to the state authority bodies, the daily comments. There were dozens of candidates names in the Central Election Commission lists which had been included in the interior bodies dossiers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

17 November
Despite the fact that the chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov has not moved into his office yet, he began registering the republic's citizens applying for reception on 17 November, the republican press reported. It was officially announced that he would begin meeting the republic's citizens for discussing their complaints from 1 December 2000. Khamitov accepted the offer of Otechestvo public organization branch in Bashkortostan, which offered the inspector to temporarily occupy its premises in the central part of Bashkir capital Ufa free of charge.

In his interview with republican press on 17 November, leader of the Otechestvo branch Rustem Akhmadinurov said that his organization stood for the "new consensus, for the organic uniting of the economic and social efficiency and for consolidation of the society." He said that for implementing this program Otechestvo had to "constructively interact with President Vladimir Putin by holding a responsible dialogue."

Otechestvo [Fatherland] was formed by the Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov as a nation-wide public and political movement in early 1999 for participating in the December elections for Russian State Duma. Later Otechestvo managed to unite with Vsya Rossia movement representing a number of key regional leaders including Bashkortostan's president Murtaza Rakhimov and Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev. Nevertheless they failed to obtain the majority in Russian Duma, being outrivaled by the pro-Kremlin Yedinstvo movement. Otechestvo still remains a part of OVR [Otechestvo-Vsya Rossia] block headed by the Russian ex-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Tatars In Bashkortostan Complain On Ethnic Rights Violations
18 November

Tatar Ethnic Cultural Autonomy [TECA] of Bashkortostan held its second Congress on 18 November in Ufa. After considering the main problems of this public organization, delegates adopted the final resolution and public appeal to the Tatarstan's State Council. The adopted resolution said that the Ethnic Autonomy "was unhappy with the inertness of Tatarstan's president in the issues regarding Tatar people in Bashkortostan Republic. Why the official Tatarstan's delegations visiting Bashkortostan do not ask about their Tatar brothers? Why they are always meeting the members of Tatar Diaspora in other regions of Russia and ignoring us in BR? We also don't understand the position of Tatarstan's president on the issue of state languages in BR. We appeal to the presidential candidates in TR saying, 'Don't forget about us!' We are asking the voters of Tatarstan to support the candidates who will promise to assist Tatars living in BR."

TECA asked the Tatarstan's State Council to pass the law on republic's citizenship so that the Tatars living outside their motherland could become its citizens. This reportedly would provide "state protection of Tatars' rights by the Tatarstan Republic." According to the TECA statement "right now the ethnic rights of Tatar people in BR are absolutely insecure."

Beginning from December 1999 Bashkortostan's Ministry of Justice has been refusing to officially register TECA, bringing such legal causes as absence of local laws on this matter and improper preparation of documents for application.

New Tatar Alphabet Regarded A Political Issue In Bashkortostan?
19 November RFE\RL correspondent in Ufa quoted the statement of Bashkortostan's deputy Minister of Education Mindebay Yulmukhametov in response to the question from republic's Kizil Tan newspaper on 19 November. The newspaper asked whether the new Latin-based Tatar alphabet would be used in Tatar schools of Bashkortostan Republic. The deputy minister stated that the schools "will not use the Latin alphabet," because the law on switching to Latin-based Tatar alphabet was adopted in Tatarstan and had no force in Bashkortostan Republic. "In future"- Yulmukhametov added, "Bashkortostan will issue the textbooks for Tatar schools by itslef."

Tatar ethnologist Damir Iskhakov wrote in his article published by Zvezda Povolzhya weekly in Kazan on 23 November that in his answer off-the-record Yulmukhametov also said "Bashkortostan could influence this situation." Iskhakov made his own comment saying that the spread of new Tatar alphabet, not based on the Cyrillic "is being stopped by the hand of Moscow." Iskhakov noted that such development would separate the Tatars living in Bashkortostan from the main ethnic education system.

Bashkir Intelligentsia Forum Chairman On Religion, Education Affairs
21 November

On the eve on Russian intelligentsia forum called "Religion, education, culture: necessity of dialogue" to be held on 24-25 November in Ufa, chairman of the Bashkortostan's intelligentsia forum, State Duma deputy Ragib Gimayev made a number of public statements commenting on the forum's background. Gimayev in his interview with Bashinform agency on 21 November explained the name of the national forum by saying, "it's necessary to take into account the growth of religion's role in the society." "The number of confessions in the world is growing"- he said, "there are new confessions emerging in our republic also. When they were adopting the Liberty of Conscience Act in BR there were 13 confessions operating in BR, now there are 15 of them. So this forum is very topical, the religion is still up." Bashkortostan's intelligentsia forum chairman commented on the education system of Russia the same day by saying, "school education in Russian falls behind the level of developed countries. Our schoolchildren especially fail to keep up in the practical use of their knowledge. Cardinal measures must be taken to correct this situation."

Teachers Of Bashkortostan Participate In National Protest Activities
22 November

Bashkortostan's education and science workers trade union held a press conference at Bashinform agency on 22 November to comment on their activities within the framework of Russian national teachers protest actions taking place from 13 November to 1 December 2000. Teachers of Russian Federation reportedly intend to attract the attention of Russian State Duma, which is considering the draft Russian budget for 2001. The trade union chairwoman Svetlana Pronina said during the press conference, "although the deputies already passed the draft budget in the second reading, there was only a slight increase of allocations for education. In the meantime, the average teacher's salary remains below the minimum living wage. Moreover, the expected increase of inflation by 20% this year and by 12% next year will actually return the teachers' salaries to the same level even given the increase of pay rates." Pronina criticized the provisions of the Russian National Education Doctrine adopted by the Russian government in October, 2000. She emphasized that the Doctrine provided free textbooks, educational loans and other modes of financial assistance only to the students from "lower-income families" and "socially insecure layers of population," while there are no legal definitions of such terms in the Russian laws. She said that she was also surprised by that the Doctrine "implies that the pensions rise for professors and teachers will be funded by the education institutions and their employees."

Teachers of Bashkortostan are preparing the list of their demands, including the protests against the abolishment of social immunities for teachers. This list will be handed to the Russian Duma deputies representing the republic on 29 November.

National Conference On Waste Recycling Takes Place In Bashkortostan
22 November

2nd Russian national scientific conference "Waste-2000" began on 22 November in Ufa. According to the reports of Bashkir media, waste recycling remained the one of Bashkortostan's main problems. Such conclusions are based on that the republic is among the most industrialized Russian regions. In his Message to the State Assembly of 2000 President Murtaza Rakhimov said, "�liquidation and recycling of the industrial and household waste are among the most thorniest issues. The republic still doesn't have a single special recycling enterprise. This problem can only be solved by creating an infrastructure of utilization, burying and reusing the production and consumption waste."

According to the Bashinform agency on 21 November the average annual waste production in Bashkortostan will make about 20 million tons in 2000. This figure reportedly increases by 2 % each year.

About 2 billion tons of liquid and hard industrial waste is stored in the republic at the moment, 87 million of them are toxic. Some of the chemical plants, for example Autonormal in Belebey region and Kauchuk in Sterlitamak organized their own recycling workshops. Bashkortostan's State Ecology Committee is creating the system of collection and rendering innocuous the toxic waste across the republic.

The current scientific conference on waste recycling issues involves 256 scientists and representatives of Russia's regional governments. A special fair was organized to demonstrate the modern methods of industrial recycling used in different parts of the Russian Federation.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Stepankov: Criminal Groups Influence Marii El High-Ranked Officials
22 November

A deputy presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District, Valentin Stepankov, told reporters in the Marii El capital Yoshkar-Ola on 22 November referring to interior bodies that some 20 organized criminal groups operate in the republic, and there are facts proving their influence on the republic's higher authorities. Stepankov informed that his visit to Marii El is aimed at instituting constitutional order and checking of the readiness for presidential elections of the electoral commissions in the republic. District official noted that no one candidate has advantages given by the Russian President administration or his representative to the District. "We have made a definite choice for ourselves but will not state it so that not to be accused of administrative power misuse," Stepankov said. The Marii El presidential elections are fixed for 3 December.

Drug Smuggling Attempt Prevented
22 November

The biggest over last several years portion of hashish was confiscated by the Russian Federal Security Service Marii El department, Regions.Ru reported on 22 November. Some 350 grams of drug was withdrawn at a Yoshkar-Ola resident, one kilogram more was discovered in the course of criminal investigation. Drugs were reportedly imported from abroad. The 'black market" cost of the drug is evaluated to be some 200,000 rubles.

Federal Bodies Denying Reports On Chemical Plant Construction In Marii El
22 November

The Marii El President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn electoral staff published an article in the local newspaper, "Yoshkar-Ola" where it claimed that "the federal authority shows clear interest in one of the defense industry companies � the plant on production and annihilation of chemical weapons in Mochalishche village near Yoshkar-Ola," Regions.Ru reported on 22 November. "Under the convention on chemical weapons annihilation, Russia by 2009 have to destroy 40,000 tons of chemical bombs. Three quarters of them are located in the Volga Federal district. Weapons from Udmurtiya, Vyatka, and Saratov are to be processed anywhere. President Kislitsyn resist this as he will live and work here," the news agencies quoted the article and reported that the information arose indignation of several bodies and officials.

The republican Civil Defense and Emergency Ministry and State Natural Resources Committee made official statements reporting the information to be false. No documents or inquiries about construction of chemical weapons burying enterprises have ever been received or considered, and such construction may be conducted only after confirmation by the Marii El government and proper expertise, they commented. Valentin Matveyev, an official who used to work for 6 years in the Zvenigovski rayon which reportedly hosts the chemical company, and then in the republican government, has also stated in local media that there are no chemical weapons producing and annihilating plant in Mochalishche. Valentin Stepankov, a deputy Volga District head, told a news conference in Yoshkar-Ola on 21 November that under the convention, chemical weapons are annihilated in their location places, and on the Marii El territory there are no such repositories.

Representative Of Marii El Presidential Candidate Robbed
20 November

Aleksandr Karpov, a deputy chief of the electoral staff of Marii El presidential candidate Vladimir Ruzlyaev, was beaten and robbed on 20 November, Interfax reported. The news agency informed referring to interior bodies that three masked invaded into Karpov's apartment in Medvedevo village, gave him a terrible beating, stole electoral documents, money, and electoral staff keys. Criminal proceeding was instituted, investigation is held.

Fedorov Not Going To Run
20 November

The Chuvashiya President, Nikolai Fedorov, told the daily "Sovetskaya Chuvashiya" on 20 November that he will not stand to the third term despite he asserts the third presidential term right to be included into the republican Constitution. Fedorov said he can find a dozen of legally correct grounds to be elected for the third time � from the experience of pre-term retirement tried by [Samara Governor Konstantin] Titov till trials "appealing against federal legislation on the basis of federal legislation too which doesn't conform with the Russian Constitution." But "I will not run because I don't want more," Fedorov said, and added that "the presidential work during these transition years was not a paradise but a heavy labor on defense of interests and dignity of the Chuvashiya people."Fedorov is maintaining the right to announce a referendum to adopt the republican Constitution. This decision Fedorov took on 1 November is protested at the Court by 13 Chuvash State Council deputies. The main disputes were caused by the paragraph allowing to be on the presidential post for three times.

Fedorov Happy With Chuvashiya Federal Inspector
17 November

The Chuvashiya President, Nikolai Fedorov, made favorable response to the appointment of the general officer commanding by the Russian Interior Ministry Volga District troops, Aleksandr Muratov, to be the chief federal inspector to the Chuvash Republic, Nizhni Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported on 17 November. Fedorov said that he "has been well familiar for a long time with Muratov as the military district commander," "had several fruitful contacts with him, and all the issues were solved with full understanding." He said that Muratov's nominee was agreed with the Volga District head Sergei Kirienko during his recent visit to the republic. "Taking into account that chief federal inspectors to Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are Major-Generals, the fact that the inspector to Chuvashiya is a Colonel-General can be valued to be recognition by the federal authorities of the Chuvashiya's role and significance within Russia," Fedorov stressed.

Foreign Ministry Mission Opened In Mordoviya
21 November

A department of Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Nizhni Novgorod representation was opened in Mordovian capital Saransk, Stolitsa S reported on 21 November. The Mordovia head Nikolai Merkushkin appealed to the federal minister Igor Ivanov earlier this year asking to open such mission to promote the development of foreign economic relations of the republican companies. Larisa Kalinichenko, the Saransk mission head, told the news agency that the office will deal with issuing invitations for foreign citizens and passports to the republic residents travelling abroad.

Moscow Not Indifferent To Profitable Izhevsk Company
22 November

A conflict connected to the removing from the post of the Izhevsk electromechanical company Kupol general manager, Yuri Shestakov, is at his peak in Udmurtiya, the Russian daily, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 November. The popular and authoritative head of the prosperous defense industry plant which exports 90 percent of its production was fired a month ago when he was on a business trip, the daily informed. The Shestakov resignation order infringed on his deputy status according to which he cannot be freed from the post till his deputy term is over.

Before the event, the company's foreign economic and total financial-economic activities were checked by the Russian Account Chamber at the initiative, as it was reported, of the President Vladimir Putin. Facts of improper money use for euro-repairs, fashionable hotel construction, creating media-concern, and purchasing three planes were reportedly discovered. But local observers, "Izvestiya" wrote, consider that Moscow authorities wish to appoint their own people to head the plant which have over $1 billion worth anti-aircraft installations export contracts. The Udmurt President-elect Aleksandr Volkov also don't support Shestakov as the latter backed his competitor during the electoral campaign. Shestakov appealed to the Udmurt Supreme Court protesting the resignation order but was freed for the second time by a new one on 14 November. Meanwhile the Court which wasn't informed on the new order kept the old in its force, so Shestakov is now twice resolved, "Izvestiya" wrote.

Compiled By Gulnara Khasanova