30 November 2000
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM TATARSTANShaimiev Joins High-Level Meetings In Moscow
Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev joined a number of governmental meetings during his business trip to Moscow on 21-24 November. According to the reports of Tatarstan's governmental press service he participated in the working group session on elaborating the power-sharing concept between the federal and regional governments of Russian Federation. Previously President Vladimir Putin appointed Shaimiev in charge for this working group as a member of the newly formed Russian State Council's presidium.
Shaimiev's working group reportedly had a fruitful meeting with the second group elaborating the power-sharing concept, which is headed by the another regional leader, president of Daghestan Republic Magomedali Magomedov. Mintimer Shaimiev commented on the results of joint considerations by praising the high professionalism of Magomedov's group. He said that after the draft concept is prepared, it would be suggested for discussion in all Russian regions. If the State Council presidium endorses the amended draft concept within December 2000, the regular Council session is expected to consider it in the first quarter of 2001. President Shaimiev reported the intermediate results of his concept elaboration to the first session of the full State Council meeting on 22 November. Later he stated "I learned it from the reaction, what a huge interest this issue represents for the regional leaders."
He added, "this can be explained by that during the process of building the governmental vertical many of the federal ministries rushed to fulfill and overfulfill their plans, sometimes even exceeding their commissions. This allows some skewness towards self-appropriating the misappropriate powers. That's why in order to prevent the contradictions with authorities its necessary to amend the federal laws or if necessary adopt the new ones through the elaborated concept. As it is shown in the federative experience of even the most developed countries it's impossible to avoid settling the issues of joint jurisdiction thought agreement or some other conciliation procedures."
Shaimiev admitted, "if we manage to successfully elaborate the power-sharing concept, this would promote the image of the real legal system. Personal attitudes, political sympathies and antipathies would leave the stage. If legislation divides the powers, in case of violations by one of the sides the court will play the major role."
Tatarstan's President Comments On State Council's Status And The Future Of Federation Council
After returning from Moscow president Mintimer Shaimiev told the reporters in Kazan about his recent participation in the Russian State Council meeting on 22 November. In his statement the president noted that the Council didn't have any constitutional status and its members faced this problem when deciding on what kind of document can they adopt after considering the Russia's development strategy for the term until 2010. "We are used"- he said, "to making some concrete decisions and then controlling how they are implemented. For example what will follow this our joint discussion?" Shaimiev referred to Vladimir Putin's promise to prepare series of decrees on Russia's strategic development within the first quarter of 2000. He said that this was the existing mechanism for implementing the State Council's decisions.
Tatarstan's president in his interview also commented on the current reforming of Russian Federation Council, which is to unite the representatives of Russia's territorial entities and not the regional leaders as it did before. He said that according to the federal laws, his republic's representative would enter the reformed body after the presidential elections in March 2001.
Prime Minister Criticizes The Governmental Organizations For Leaving Assets Unspent
In his speech at the meeting of Tatarstan's government on 27 November PM Rustam Minnikhanov pledged strict measures against the officials who would fail to introduce the new treasury system in state finances. Commenting on the unwillingness of some of the officials to make their organizations' money flows more transparent he said, "of course we cannot fire ministers every day, but the ones who are personally responsible for this will be� And there will be a lot of contestants for the empty seats."
The new system of finance used by the republican Ministry of Finance distributes the budget money through the treasuries, which control the appropriate use of funds. Before this reform, budget money was directly transferred to the accounts of organizations. This reportedly served as a reason to numerous cases of funds abuse.
Some of the Tatarstan's ministers said during the meeting that they were unhappy with the treasury system because there were long delays between the time of applying for reserved funds and obtaining the money. Minnikhanov rebutted these statements by bringing the examples of Communications Ministry and Ministry of Social Security which kept their assets unused for 3-4 months this year. He said "first they say that if we don't give money their lives will stop�, and when we give them money they don't take it!" Officials from the republican State Committee on Sports and Tourism, State TV and Radio Company, Ministry of Emergencies, State Committee on Youth Affairs and the state-owned Volga resort camp failed to explain why they didn't apply for assets given from the Tatarstan's budget for months.
Russian Duma Allows President Shaimiev To Run For His Third Term
Russian State Duma adopted an amendment to the federal law on "General principles of organizing the legislative (representative) bodies of state governmental bodies in Russian Federation's entities" on 29 November, RFE\RL Kazan Bureau reported the same day. The amendment enabled 21 of the present presidents and governors in Russian republics and oblasts to run for their third term. According to the mentioned law on general principles regional leaders have the possibility of running for their offices only twice. Previously Russian media and politicians made statements acknowledging that the key issue in this case is what to take as a benchmark in beginning the terms count. Only in the third round of vote on this issue the majority of Duma deputies voted for relying on the date when the new federal law was put in force (16 October 1999) and not the date when the presidential terms actually began.
This development cleared the situation with the future presidential elections in Tatarstan Republic, where president Mintimer Shaimiev is currently serving his second term. Shaimiev has not yet declared his intention to run in republic's future presidential elections in March, 2001.
During the heated debates in State Duma some of the deputies stated that the amendment to general principles law "contradicted the existing legal space in Russia, violated the spirit and the provisions of Russian Constitution." Legislation Committee deputy chairwoman Yelena Mizulina said during the deliberations, "this draft amendment is an attempt to suspend the action of Russian Constitution in the regions." Duma deputy representing Tatarstan, leader of the Communist Party branch Alexander Saliy stated that "this amendment is for persons who established their family clans in their regions." Member of the "Russian Regions" faction Vladimir Lisenko made an open statement saying, "it is clear that the current draft was made to suit the Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev. Shaimiev is a strong regional leader and politician. Although I respect Mintimer Sharipovich, the law must be equal for everyone." Quite often other deputies characterized the suggested amendment by saying that it was "imprecise from the legal point of view and politically harmful."
About 219 deputies voted to support the draft bill after the speech of Russian presidential representative in Russian Duma Alexander Kotenkov who said that president Vladimir Putin "approved it." The representative of Russian government in Duma Andrey Loginov also joined the Kotenkov's statement. Results of the first vote revealed that the bill was rejected by the majority of deputies.
After this vote round Russian ultra nationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky insisted on holding the second vote by saying that he "personally saw 7 deputies who failed to press the voting buttons in time." The second round of voting showed that 4 more deputies supported the bill. After the break pro-regional Otechestvo-Vsya Rossia [Fatherland-All Russia] Duma bloc led by the Russian ex-PM Yevgeny Primakov suggested holding a final third vote on the controversial bill. Accompanied with the indignant shouts of some of the deputies, the amendment was passed.
A number of the Russian media, including the nation-wide Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Ross Business Consulting agency [www.rbc.ru], Strana.ru national information service www.strana.ru] and Izvestia newspaper relied on the results of the first and second voting rounds when preparing their reports the same day. As the internet media managed to replace their primary reports saying that the bill was rejected by the Duma right after the third round of vote the same day, the mentioned newspapers provided false information on the vote in their 30 November issues due to the press production peculiarities.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTANSakha To Follow Bashkortostan Way
A parliamentarian delegation from Sakha (Yakutiya) Republic visited on 22-23 November Bashkortostan to study the republic's experience in harmonizing local legislation with the federal one, RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir service reported on 26 November. The delegation head, the chairman of the State Assembly Representatives Chamber constitutional laws committee Zakharov has got acquainted with the activity of the Bashkortostan State Assembly, the Legislative Chamber committees, the principles of work of the Russian-Bashkir bilateral consent commission on bringing Bashkortostan's Constitution and laws into conformity with the Russian legislation and main law. Zakharov told Bashkortostan officials that the issue of harmonizing legislation is on an agenda for Sakha as well since the republic being rich in diamonds is interested in natural resources to be left a property of its people, and it would like to solve the issue in the way Bashkortostan did. The latter's newly edited Constitution announced that its natural resources belongs to the republic's people despite the disagreement of the Russian Constitutional Court.
Sibai Residents Defend Their Mayor
Mass demonstrations of Sibai town residents were held to support the urban administration head Rim Gabidullin, RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir service reported on 26 November. The Sibai Mayor was sharply criticized at the republic's Ministers Cabinet visiting session in Sibai on 17 November. During the session, the Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov valued negatively the activity of Sibai administration saying that wage arrears reached 25million rubles in the town, half of the companies are unprofitable, the debt to the republican budget is growing continually. Baidavletov added that in his opinion, the town needs a new head to be appointed. A committee on defend of the Sibai head was organized after this, and a meeting started at the central square which continued for two weeks. Within a short time, some 12,000 Mayor-supporting signatures were collected in the town that counts totally 60,000. Last week, the committee representatives met the presidential administration head Ildar Guimayev in Ufa and passed him signatures to inform the President.
RFE/RL correspondent commented that Baidavletov, who is supposed to become the republic's next president, hasn't found support in a "genuine Bashkir district." Over the last period, large sums were transferred to Sibai from the republican budget despite the fact that its companies don't work well and don't pay due taxes to the budget � the achievement the town residents suppose to be Gabidullin's success. Some political researches comment on the Sibai situation to be a sign of the struggle for the future presidency.
Intelligentsia Ufa Congress Participants On National And Spiritual Issues
Creative workers gathered in Ufa on 24-25 November for the third Russian-wide Intelligentsia Congress to discuss problems of "Religious, education, culture: the necessity of dialogue," Bashinform reported.
Addressing the forum, Aleksandr Yakovlev, the chairman of the Russian presidential Commission on rehabilitation of political repression victims and Soviet perestroika ideologist, expressed his worry about the facts of fascism, antisemitism, Russophobia which often take place in our country. Nobody curbs or blames them, he said and continued: "Prosecutor's Office maintains a silence, so do authorities. But intelligentsia is silent as well, we also don't express our negative attitude toward these disgusting phenomena. If all Russia doesn't raise its voice against it, I am sure, trouble is unavoidable."
The Bashkortostan Academy of Sciences President, State Duma deputy Robert Nigmatullin, speaking at the congress, asked: "What don't I like our intelligentsia for?" and answered: "for isolation from its national, family roots, for its failure to discuss interethnic issues in a calm spirit." He said not only authorities but intelligentsia as well is responsible for interethnic conflicts which arose in early 90's, as it hasn't hindered them. In Nigmatullin's opinion, out society isn't ready to consider such a delicate issue like the role of Jews in the Russian history. He said he doesn't like intelligentsia for its centralist, totalitarian mentality. It can be shown, in his opinion, at the example of Bashkortostan which is thrown mud in Russian media for the fact that it announced its state sovereignty, adopted its Constitution, law on languages and other legislative documents. In other respects, Nigmatullin finished, he likes Russia's intelligentsia, respect and worship it. The proposal by Nigmatullin to investigate into the Jews role in the Russian history was misunderstood, Bashinform reported, and caused accusations against him of an attempt to evaluate this role negatively.
The archbishop of Ufa and Sterlitamaq Nikon said that the Russian Orthodox Church works in cooperation with the executive bodies of Bashkortostan and finds their support. The Russian Orthodox Church, he said, would like to have an access to a work with children and is holding negotiations with the responsible bodies of the republic. Nikon stated that Orthodox Church doesn't seek a role of the official religion in Russia.
Bashkir Nationalists Back Federalism
An ideologist of the Bashkir youth nationalist organization "Ittifaq", Airat Dilmukhametov, criticized in local press the policy of the Russian central authorities aimed at strengthening unitary state. Dilmukhametov wrote in his article titled "Russia Hasn't Been Given Such Mission" in the "Kyzyl Tang" newspaper on 23 November that "the state which is a great one by its territory could manage to solve no one of its main issues." In his opinion, no idea exists today able to unite the country's people. "A federalism, or the uniting of equal entities, isn't being discussed now at all," he notes and continues that "the country head, trying to annihilate one of the Caucasus peoples, warns by this the others: those who currently are defenders of federalism, in the future will become separatists and terrorists."
Bashkortostan Tatars Critical To Peoples Asembly
The Bashkorostan Tatars national-cultural autonomy sharply criticized at its second congress in Ufa on 18 November an idea of holding the Bashkortostan Peoples Assembly due to take place in December, RFE/RL correspondent reported. One of the documents adopted at the congress and being addressed to the Assembly participants, says "so that to strengthen a friendship between peoples, it is necessary not to speak on peoples friendship but solve their national-cultural problems on a just basis." The congress participants adopted appeals to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bashkortostan peoples, Bashkortostan Tatars, Tatarstan's State Council.
The holding of the Bashkortostan's Peoples Assembly was initiated by the republic's authority bodies, and its organizing committee is headed by the Prime Minister, Rafael Baidavletov. The Assembly is commented to be an officially-blessed alternative to the republic's opposition national organizations, such as the Tatar Public Center and the Russian movement "Rus'". Earlier, the authorities organized the Russian's Sobor, Tatars Congress, Chuvashs Assembly and appointed high-ranked officials to lead these organizations.
Talgat Tadguddin Concerned Of Muslim Education
The Supreme Mufti of Russian and European CIS states Muslims, Talgat Tadguddin, said in an interview with Gazeta.Ru on 24 November that Russia needs a new system of training patriotically minded clergy staff to be created. And such a system may be tried just now in the Volga region, the Mufti said. Commenting on the relations of different denominations representatives, he noted that the more Orthodox and Muslim clergy will meet with each other, the more peaceful and quiet life there will be for our believers. A role of religion in the spiritual and moral revival, counteraction to the religious extremism, fanaticism, foreign pseudo-religious centers, and spread of totalitarian sects � these issues unite Russia's all traditional confessions, he said. Tadguddin said that perfection of legislation is currently the most important issue. For last 10 years, the conscience freedom and religious organizations legislation changed several times. The problem is especially urgent because of a foreign centers and organizations strong influence.
Mufi said he hopes that the presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko will promote the Rizaetdin bin Fakhretdin Islam Institute in Ufa to work and overcome financial difficulties. He said the District administration have to help in return and restoration of religious organizations buildings since 14,500 mosques were destroyed by the communist state, of which Russia is a successor. Mufti said that personnel training could become a common aim for Muslim clergy and the Volga Federal District administration. In his opinion, the District bodies should help the religious organizations both of Orthodoxy and Islam in personnel training. An interconfessional expert council of traditional confessions may be set up to assist the plenipotentiary representative to make his relations to religious organizations which are being newly created.
Tadguddin said that children shouldn't be sent to foreign religious institutions for training before they receive in our country secular education which is recognized by the state, and religious education at our traditional religious educational institutions. Without this, they become zombie there, he said. Only then they may go abroad to improve their language or to get new knowledge.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
WEEKLY REVIEW FROM IDEL-URAL REGIONMarii El Presidential Elections
Several Russian media reported that Marii El President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn may be removed from participation in the presidential elections being held on 3 December and is likely to repeat the fate of Kursk ex-governor Aleksandr Rutskoi. The "Kommersant" daily on 30 November wrote in the leading article titled "The Kursk analogy" that the decision on the Kislitsyn removal will be taken on 1 December evening, two days before the elections. The daily reported that another presidential candidate in Marii El, former Caucasus border district commander General Vladimir Ruzlyayev appealed to the republican court on 29 November accusing that Kislitsyn, while he declared his income and property, kept back 7 objects of property and understated area of his apartment by 100 meters. (Rutskoi who was removed from the governor election campaign on the eve of the poll by the Kursk Court decision hadn't declared two cars and understated area of one apartment.)
Kislitsyn, however, still tops presidential candidates ratings in the republic reportedly with about 40 percent. His strongest competitors at the elections are expected to be Leonid Markelov, the head of local LDPR department, and Yoshkar-Ola Mayor Veniamin Kozlov. Markelov's current rating is reported by "Kommersant-Vlast" to make 15 percent, one of Kozlov � 6 percent. Three Generals who also run � Vladimir Ruzlyayev, head of the Emergency Ministry North Caucasus regional center Ivan Teterin, and republic's Interior Minister Anatoli Ivanov � have about 5 percent each.
The presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko has been persuading Kislitsyn for two months to recall his candidacy but failed. Vesti.Ru commented on 30 November that the Marii El court session is fixed for Friday specially to make it impossible for Kislitsyn to appeal to the Russian Supreme Court. So the republican court decision will be final, the news agency noted.
The State Duma sent a group of deputies representing SPS, OVR, Yedinstvo and LDPR factions to Marii El to observe the elections, RIA Novosti reported on 1 December.
Constitutional Conflict Is Over In Chuvashiya
The Chuvashiya State Council passed the republican Constitution by 74 votes from 85 on the first and second readings on 30 November, Regions.Ru reported. A paragraph has been included in the document according to which the controversial issue on presidential terms number will be regulated by federal legislation. Previously, the principle was introduced in the draft which prohibited presidential candidate to run more than twice. Before the final voting, the President Nikolai Fedorov abolished the decree he had earlier signed to hold a Constitutional referendum on 14 January. Fedorov thanked deputies for reached consent.
On 29 November, the constitutional conflict was discussed in Cheboksary at a meeting of the Chuvashiya State Council chairman Nikolai Ivanov with the deputy presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District Aleksandr Yevstifeyev and chief federal inspector to Chuvashiya, Aleksandr Muratov, Nizhni Novgorod telegraph agency reported.
The new republican Constitution is to replace the previous main law which acted since 1978.
Fedorov On Power Reforms And State Council Role
Chuvash President, Nikolai Fedorov, told the Russian daily "Segodnya" on 25 November that the Russian State Council isn't a panacea but a forum where in the current conditions the Russian President's position may be corrected. After the State Council session [on 22 November], Fedorov said, he had a meeting with Putin where the Russian President expressed his understanding of the evaluation of the situation Fedorov made at the session. In Fedorov's opinion, forming unconstitutional power institutions is dangerous. Russian statehood and Federation were approved at the referendum. The measures which are proposed to reform the state authority in fact weaken the federal center's role since they mean duplication of functions. All this can destroy federalism, he said. Fedorov informed that the Russian President suggested him to join the group headed by Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev which is designing proposals for power sharing between federal authority and territorial entities.
Chuvash Parliament Passes Budget
Budget deficit in Chuvashiya will total next year 199 million rubles, according to the republican 2001 budget the republic's State Council adopted at its session on 30 November, Regions.Ru reported. The sources to finance the deficit were confirmed to be state loans due to be performed by issuing republican securities. Credits from organizations, income from republican property sell are also expected to be used to liquidate the deficit.
Kirienko Meets Fedorov
The presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko and Chuvashiya President, Nikolai Fedorov, discussed social and economic cooperation and relations of the republican authority bodies with the District administration in Cheboksary on 28 November, Nizhni Novgorod telegraph agency reported. The same day, a meeting of the federal bodies republican departments heads was held by the deputies of the District head where the chief federal inspector to the republic Aleksandr Muratov was introduced. Valentin Stepankov, the deputy District chief in charge of the law enforcement bodies activities, told the meeting that the draft Constitution of the Chuvash Republic is a well designed document.
Udmurt Parliament Confirms Premier And Speaker Candidacies
The Udmurtiya State Council confirmed on 29 November the appointment of the republican Parliament Chairman and Prime Minister, Russian agencies reported. Former Mozhga urban administration head Igor Semenov has headed the State Council by 56 votes of 93. The opposition candidate Pavel Vershinin, who had before balloted at the presidential elections, competed Semenov but has lost again. Yuri Pitkevich, previously deputy premier, has been appointed as Prime Minister by 80 votes. A question of bringing 23 republican laws into conformity with federal legislation was also on the session agenda. Main part of the legislative documents which didn't suit federal laws were cancelled or stopped. Amendments to the republican Constitution have been also adopted.
Mordoviya Senators To Leave Federation Council In 2002
The Mordoviya head, Nikolai Merkushkin, told Stolitsa S on 29 November that it is still too early to talk about new Mordoviya representatives to the Federation Council as it will work in its current shape for a year more. At the same time, Merkushkin said, regional heads will work at the presidential State Council. During two or three months after the transition period starts in January, 2002, the Federation Council current Mordoviya representatives, Merkushkin himself and the republican State Assembly Chairman Valeri Kechkin, will be changed by other republic's representatives.
Mordoviya Trade Unions Concern Of Wage Arrears
A debt to the Mordoviya educational institutions employees total about 250 million rubles, of them wages arrears make about 12 million rubles, the republican education and science institutions trade unions committee reported at its meeting on 30 November. Stolitsa S reported that it was recommended to the trade unions rayon committees to hold pickets if non-payments continue. The trade union representatives commented that current situation with debts repayment is much more favorable comparing to previous years.
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova