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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 21, 2000

21 December 2000
State Council Presidium To Discuss Power Sharing
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said that power sharing will be the subject of discussions at a 26 December State Council presidium session, Ekho Moskvy reported on 20 December. Shaimiev will deliver a report on the subject in his capacity as head of the working group on this subject.

Tatarstan Agrees To Introduce Russian Passport
Moscow's "Vremya MN" reported on 21 December that Russian Federation passports will again be issued in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan beginning in January 2001. The action follows a meeting among Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov, and the presidential plenipotentiary representative to the Volga Federal District SergeiKirienko last week. The new passports will include special pages in the national languages where republic state emblems will be featured. Russian President Vladimir Putin directed Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo on 13 December to develop this new format. The Tatarstan State Council had blocked the distribution of Federation passports in October 1997, and consequently residents have retained their USSR model passports up to now.

President Election Law Amended
Tatarstan's parliament on 19 December amended the republican Constitution and the presidential elections law on the third reading, reducing the age qualification for presidential candidates from 35 to 30 and abolishing the residency requirement for that office. The deputies also eliminated the prohibition on participation in elections by Russian public movements and modified the requirement concerning language competence of candidates. Under the new rules, candidates must be able to speak both Russian and Tatar. Prosecutors and opposition deputy Aleksandr Shtanin objected to the language provision, arguing that it effectively excludes fifty percent of the republic's population from participation. Meanwhile, the State council rejected a prosecutorial protest against a paragraph specifying that only a citizen of the Tatarstan Republic can be elected president.

Duma Still Concerned With Tatar Latin Alphabet
Moscow's "Segodnya" reported on 21 December that the State Duma has decided to go ahead with its request that one of its committees investigate Tatarstan's decision to switch to a Latin script. Fandas Safiullin, a Duma Regions of Russia deputy from Tatarstan, argued that this was an insult to the Tatars. The transition to Latin script will begin in Tatarstan in September 2001.

Tatarstan Jewish Leader Says Gusinsky Prosecution Shows Moscow Can't Stand Any Opposition
Mikhail Skoblionok, the chairman of the Tatarstan branch of the Russian Jewish Congress, said that the Russian government is prosecuting Vladimir Gusinsky because he is a political opponent, Tatar-inform reported on 19 December. He said the authorities should have seized Gusinsky's property rather than seek his arrest if they wanted to recover credits he had received.

2001 Budget Passed
The State Council on 19 December adopted Tatarstan's 2001 state budget, republic media reported. Revenues are predicted to be 21 billion rubles, expenditures 22.5 billion, and subsidies from Moscow at more than 700 million rubles. The budget assumes that gross output will increase by 5 percent and industrial production rise by 5.5 percent. Inflation is slated to fall from 24 percent this year to 12 percent next. KamAZ will increase production to 26,000 trucks and 36,000 small cars. Social sphere expenses are to increase by 40 percent. The new budget also abolishes nine special budget funds, including the tax for maintenance of housing fund and social-cultural institutions Income tax rates are to rise up to five percent.

Kazan To Produce New Aircraft
Kazan's Gorbunov firm has begun preparations for the production of a new passenger plane, the TU-324, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 December. Chief designer of the 50-seat plane Valentin Dmirtiev said that Russian-made electronic equipment used is close to international standards.

Telephone Charges by the Minute
Residents of Tatarstan will begin paying six to eight kopecks for each minute of phone useage as of 15 December, Tatar-inform reported. In addition, every telephone subscriber will pay 30 rubles monthly for private telephone and 72 rubles for one at work office. A similar payment system is to be introduced in Chally, Tuben Kama and other locations.

KamAZ Now Sells Automobiles For Leasing
KamAZ has delivered the first consignment of trucks for leasing, the company's press center reported on 14 December. The Chally automobile plant conducts leasing operations through its Avtopromlizing. Leaseholders pay 25 percent of the value of the truck during the first year. The first six dumptrucks to be leased were delivered to the Kuzbass coal mines.

Tatneft Extends Filling Station Network In Crimea
Tatneft has opened a new filling station in Sevastopol, RIA Oreanda reported on 19 December. Rostislav Vakhitov, the head of Tatarstan's trade representation to Ukraine, said that this is a real contribution toward strengthening Ukraine-Russian friendship. He added that he hoped similar projects will be developed elsewhere in Ukraine as well.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Assembly to Resume Ties With Tatar Deputies
Tatar and Bashkir parliamentarians met in Ufa 13-15 December to discuss expanding cooperation on the basis of the March 1997 accord between them, RFE\RL correspondents reported. Tatar parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin "expessed his admiration" of what Bashkortostan has done. And Bashkir speaker Konstantin Tolkachev agreed to visit to Kazan.

Presidents Discuss Legislation Adjustment With Federal Officials
The presidents of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, Murtaza Rakhimov and Mintimer Shaimiev, met with Russian presidential representative to the Volga administrative district Sergey Kiriyenko in Ufa on 15 December to discuss harmonization of republic and federal legislation. Bashkir State Assembly chairman Konstantin Tolkachev and his counterpart from Tatarstan, State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin reported on their legislative work. Chief federal inspector Rustem Khamitov praised the Bashkir legislators for being productive, because "at first 120 of the 300 laws adopted in BR contradicted the federal legislation, 42 are now already brought in conformity, 40 more are being considered and amended."

Passport Dispute Resolved
When the Russian government introduced new passports in 1997, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan refused to make use of the format because they said that the new documents violated the ethnic rights of their bearers by lacking any reference to his or her nationality or republic symbols. But now that dispute has been resolved. Deputy head of Russian presidential staff Vladislav Surkov said in Ufa on 15 December that "President Vladimir Putin has directed the Russian government to provide the passports with special pages showing the state symbols of republics and translating all notes into their state languages."

Yabloko Continues Pressure on Bashkir Government
The Yabloko party has appealed to the Russian justice ministry to evaluate the new Bashkortostan constitution because the party says the document violates the Russian constitution, "Kommersant Daily" reported on 16 December. Bashkir State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev said this appeal was Grigory Yavlinsky's "act of revenge for being defeated in court." During the national elections for Russian State Duma in December 1999, Yabloko distributed leaflets condemning the "feudal regime of Rakhimov" in BR, for which Bashkortostan's Supreme Court obliged Yavlinsky to pay Rakhimov 800,000 rubles in May 2000. Tolkachev futher commented that unlike the verdict of Russia's Constitutional Court, "results of expertise by Justice Ministry will have no legal force" no matter what they are.

Bashkortostan Constitution's Seventh Anniversary to be Marked
On the eve of celebrations dedicated to the seventth anniversary of the adoption of Bashkortostan's Constitution, published a press release from Bashkortostan's presidential press service commenting on the main amendments entered to republic's basic law in 2000. Among other things, the release noted that on 24 December 1993, deputies of Bashkir Supreme Council adopted the Constitution, which for the first time declared BR a "sovereign, democratic state, building its relations with Russian Federation on the basis of bilateral treaties and agreements."

After the change of Russia's federal policy inspired by President Vladimir Putin, Bashkortostan formed a conciliation commissionand in May 2000, Putin send his recommendations for modifications to the Bashkir State Assembly. That body then passed over 100 constitutional amendments on 3 November.As a result of these actions, 104 articles of Bashkir Constitution were modified. According to the new Constitution, Bashkortostan no longer has its own citizenship but rather Russian citizens living there have rights and responsibilities according to the federal and republic basic laws. The amendments also changed age, residency and language requirements for republic presidential candidates.

Meanwhile, President Murtaza Rakhimov on 19 December told a conference devoted to "The Development of Constitutional Legislation in Bashkortostan Republic" that the new document had extraordinary significance for the future of Bashkortostan, "Sovetskaya Bashkiria � Izvestia Bashkortostana" reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Marii El Gets New President
Rosgosstrakh insurance company head Leonid Markelov, 37, defeated incumbent Marii El President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn, Russian agencies reported. During the second, Markelov received 58 percent of votes, while Kislitsyn was backed by 34 percent of electorate. Fifty seven percent of all voters took part. Markelov several years ago had been a coordinator of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia local branch but later left LDPR. He had run against Kislitsyn four years ago. Moscow papers described his victory as a victory for the Kremlin. Markelov will be inaugurated on 14 January.

President-Elect Says Federal Officials Stopped Vote Fraud�
Markelov told republic radio on 18 December that actions by the Volga Federal District authorities had blocked his opponent from stealing the election. He contrasted his own race with the 1999 State Duma elections in Marii El when, in his words, "Kislitsyn counted the votes." In confirmation of this, Nizhni Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 18 December that there had been serious violations during the vote, including the distribution of free vodka to voters and orders given to soldiers to "make the right choice."

�Outlines Plans, Problems, and Prospects
Following his victory, Markelov left for Moscow on 21 December and will return to the republic only in January, reported. He told reporters before leaving that his first priority on taking office will be to improve the situation with regard to energy supplies. He said he would work with UES to restructure debts and ensure supply of power. He said his major task would be to find new investors for the republic. Markelov said he would eliminate the posts of state secretary and deputy prime minister in charge of information security. And he promised to work closely with Federal District officials.

Marii El Constitution Amended
The Marii El Constitutional Assembly passed some 20 amendments to the republican Constitution to bring it into conformity with federal legislation, RBC reported on 21 December. Aleksandr Yevstifeyev, the deputy presidential representative to the Volga Federal District, took part in the meeting. Marii El is the only territorial entity where amendments were made by a special Constitutional Assembly made up of 65 State Assembly deputies and 67 representatives of rayon and urban bodies.

Federal District Reception Office Opens in Udmurtia
The Volga Federal District has opened a public reception office in Udmurtia, RBC reported on 15 December. Sergei Chikunov, the chief inspector of the district, said that "presidential authority should be closer to the people" and that such offices were designed to promote that. The new office will be headed by Vladimir Volkov. Earlier, a similar office was opened in Nizhnii Novgorod.

Federal Inspector Maintains Federal And Local Bodies Cooperation
The chief federal inspector to Udmurtia, Sergei Chikunov, met with local officials to discuss improving the cooperation between them and his agency, the Volga Federal District Information Center reported on 15 December.

Mordovians Attend Finno-Ugric Congress
Led by deputy prime minister Valentin Konakov, a delegation from Mordovia attended the Third World Congress of Finno-Ugrian Peoples, reported on 18 December. The meeting discussed preserving integrity of the Finno-Ugrians culture and their languages and developing a program of support for family peoples. The forum organizers reported that one of the next congresses may be held in the capital of Mordovia, Saransk. Mordovians are the third largest Finno-Ugric group afgter the Hungarians and Finns.

Mordovia Seeks to Save Energy
Mordovian State University scientists have developed an energy saving program for the republic, reported on 15 December. The program aims to improve the efficiencies of using all forms of energy as well as to save the population money. While the program would cost more than 500 million rubles, the scientists say it would save over 720 million rubles.

Chinese Cultural And Business Center to Open in Saransk
A Chinese cultural-business center will be opened in Saransk, reported on 18 December. It is being organized under the terms of a cooperation agreement between Saransk and Angshang. Saransk Mayor Ivan Nenyukov said that these ties will reduce the prices of many consumer goods

Chuvash President Urges Restrictions on Federal District Actions
Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov on 20 December urged that rules be established to prevent representatives of the federal districts from illegally trampling the rights and powers of federation entities. He made these comments in an interview on Russia's ORT television. He said that there should not be parties or factions in the Federation Council and that the Council itself must not be dominated by Moscow residents.

McDonalds to Open in Cheboksary
Chuvashia will get its first McDonalds restaurant by March 2001, AKM reported. Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov said this will be the first such restaurant in a Russian Federation city with fewer than one millin residents. Construction has already begun.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova