Statements, interview

Regional Leaders Come Back

President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev is ready to help Vladimir Putin to reconstruct "vertical" and to cope with conflicts

Forming of a rigid vertical of executive power, exile of governors from Council of Federation, withdrawal a part of financial resources from them, apparently, have for ever deprived regions of the right for political voice. However, judging from published today in "NG" interview with the President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaeimiev, it is far from being so. The governors have not left from a political stage. Probably, they have simply in hiding.

- Mintimer Sharipovich, now, a lot of speaking that Putin gradually begins to come back from "rigid" federalism to traditional one ...

- You have answered this question.

- In March, State Council did not listen to your report on differentiation of powers, having referred on its unavailability . Whether the administration of the president of Russia and State Council is ready to listening to it now?

- Among all the issues which were raised at the State Council, it is the only one for which settlement the special commission under the president was set up headed by Dmitry Kozak. It means much. The commission should finish work by July of the next year.

- What results of commission work you would like to see?

- The law on local self-government of the Russian Federation satisfies nobody. I do not doubt, that the appropriate amendments will be brought in it. Simultaneously the commission should undertake preparation of changes in those federal laws which one-sidedly interfere in subjects of joint and exclusive management. The breakthrough here did not occur yet. This is on what is necessary to pay attention. In general, I would tell, that in the state there are issues which only the president should solve, they cannot be entrusted to somebody.

- Therefore you had discussed possible changes in the Constitution of Tatarstan personally with president Putin...

- During a meeting with Putin we have succeeded to consider some moments and to remove existing disagreements with the working groups of the Main legal management of President administration. Now, the editorial definitions are being considered. In close future the Constitution will be scrutinized at the constitutional commission of republic.

- Whether Tatarstan leadership is going further firmly to adhere to the Agreemnet on differentiation of powers with the Centre and principles of the republican Constitution? Or there is a certain situation which induces to go to compromises with Moscow for the sake of stability preservation?

- For us the concept of stability is divided into two components: inside republic (that is from the point of view of mutual relations between Russians and Tatars, between Orthodox and Islam) and at a level of mutual relations with the federal Centre. The named Agreement has stabilized both that, and another. If there will be no Agreement - there will be no internal stability, and without it the relations with the federal Centre also will be shaky. Therefore it is difficult to imagine such a situation refusing the Agreement.

- What is effectiveness of federal districts? What is their future? Did you discuss with president Putin their future role?

- No, we did not. But I on this account have my own view. Russia is the large country, and, certainly, the President should have independent information about the regions. However, the federal districts - not the best effective form in this sense. The functions of federal districts with much smaller expenses could accomplish Main territorial management under the president of the Russian Federation. After the majority of regional acts reconciled with federal ones , it is difficult to imagine, what else they might engage in. Moreover they have no constitutional powers, though there are many qualified people.

- After elections of 2004 will the federal districts be liquidated?

- It is difficult to make such forecasts. But, from my point of view it cannot proceed such a way . Federal districts - not effective tool in power structures of the country. They should be endowed by the constitutional powers or find other form.

- Do strong regional leaders return to a political stage of Russia?

- This problem lays much more deeply. If to speak about strengthening or, on the contrary, weakening the role of regions then the point is not even in federal districts. A core of the issue - the adopted Tax code and those interbudgetary relations which are now developing between the Centre and regions. The future of subjects is connected on how long - term is the decision on redistribution of taxes, whether president Putin and the government make any corrections. The regions - donors are not interested. But I speak about it not only from position of the head of one of such regions. Already many members of Federation Council understood, that we have given many powers, approving or not approving many laws came from Duma. I think, that the present Tax code does not stimulate heads of administrations to increase the tax base. Finally from this will lose both federal, and local budgets.

- Are there many among the regional leaders supporting the return to federalism with strong regions?

- It is striking that donated regions have started talking about this. There are efficient heads who are capable to increase tax base gradually. But when they see that most part of taxes leaves them then they lose interest . It may become very much a serious obstacle for the further growth of economy of Russia as a whole.

Recently I met Michail Prusak, in the past a staunch supporter of centralization. But now he also with the same indignation asks a question on excessive redistribution of taxes for the benefit of the Centre because he in his region, as a matter of fact, remained without nothing. The tax base devastated.

I also always defend the integrity of the Russian Federation. But this integrity does not mean, that we should centralize all. Today, when all the taxes collected in the Centre, there, probably, comes feeling, that they now with the money. But you see, by doing this the Centre has assumed solving many social and economic problems. And per se, today the federal budget guarantees only the very minimum. It is capable to guarantee duly payment of the salary to state employees. And where the interest in investments? Without investments regions can not develop. But it is out of the question. We have only just begun building roads, and the Centre seized this money. Now, they are going to withdraw the funds through the tax on minerals use . Even during Great Patriotic war intensive investigation of entrails kept going - not stopping even a day . Somehow, Gosplan chairman Bajbakov told, that in post-war restoration Tatarstan oil played a decisive role because we after war begun to step up oil recovery and brought it up to 103 million tons per year. And it is due that during all military years there was a prospecting drilling.

Such distribution of incomes also may cause discontent and a dissatisfaction among the majority of local heads. Mechanisms which will create conditions for the interested work of regional heads should be elaborated. It is utterly necessary.

- Whether it was possible for you to discuss it with president Putin, say, in a circle of your colleagues, representatives of other regions? How he is concerned to coming back to forms of traditional federalism?

- But you see, in essence, there was no any kind of federalism in Russia even if to take relations of union republics with the Centre during the USSR times. Though Russia always referred to as RSFSR, it did possess the federation attributes. To speak about tradition of federalism simply impossible.

There were attributes, scenery. We still should line up the federative state. If we go on a way of a democratic society Russia must become a federative state. Russia is multinational historically - the nations live in its territory from time immemorial. These are not some traditions introduced in New continent by immigrants. We are in territory where long since there were states where there are deep cultural and confessional roots. In Russia these factors can not but help to count. In conditions of democracy it would become the reason for holding back and discontent. To build up a federative state in Russia, certainly, will be hard. But there is no other way.

- What measures on construction of a federative state you would offer for entering into the program of the party created under your participation?

- We are working over it. But without answers to questions of budgetary federalism it is difficult to make a party look as an attractive idea. It is also necessary to start with such understanding, that the basic electorate is concentrated in large industrial regions and republics. If we clearly are not able to tell the people how this mutual relations will be built, what comes in future, whence such a party take attractiveness? We should tell openly about the future of a democratic federative state. From here follows everything else. We should provide rights on preservation and development of traditions, cultures and languages of Russian peoples. And not simply to declare, but to create real conditions.

- Whether support of strong regional leaders for strengthening power and the state as a whole is required to president Putin in the near future?

- I think, that such leaders were and remain claimed always: yesterday, today and tomorrow. And to tell, that the president of Russia does without them, it would be biassed.

- Could you tell, please, what attitude of a new party will be to Council of Federation with appointed members instead of heads of regional administrations and legislative assemblies?

- So far I can speak out only about my position. On today the worst variant for formation of Federation Council was chosen. Look, the governor and local self-management are elected by the population, the State Duma and the president of Russia are elected by the population. How the upper chamber in these conditions may consist from the appointees? It appears to be a unique level of authority which is not delegated by the people. The situation was enough clear when there were the governors vested by the legitimate right to execute power. I think, that most latest, during the future elections to the State Duma, the members of Council of Federation also should be elected by the population. The present Constitution allows it. Then the members of Council of Federation will enjoy, certainly, other legitimacy. And I am convinced that today's position should not be preserved. In the Council of Federation may appear many representatives who have no any attitude to the regions. It does not decorate our power, does not make it more substantial.

- Whether it is real, that elections to the State Duma are held before the planned term?

- Today I do not see any reasons that deputies have not finished their term of office .

- Did you discuss with president Putin the ideology and tasks of a new party?

- There were already many conversations in mass media on this subject. "OVR and "Unity" began to be named "power party" or "the force which as though has beforehand gained a victory". I come categorically against such setting of a point. First, it is necessary to become the party, and then "party of power". We still should pass a way of party construction. People yet do not know, what ideology we want to offer, the party platform is not formulated, the orgstructure not fulfilled. "Party of power", more truly, party in power, we should become only in case when manage to take the majority of votes in future Duma. If we achieve such success then we can nominate the candidate to president. We should pass this thorny road.

Struggle against terrorism: Russia and the world community

- Collective struggle against terrorism influences not only external, but also internal policy of many countries. How you estimate the course of the international antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan? What, in your opinion, optimum model of conflict resolution?

- My position is unequivocal - the terrorism needs to be eradicated. But I am disturbed with the post-war future of Afghanistan and influence of Russia in this region. One of the first regions where still the Soviet Russia had undertaken efforts for establishing diplomatic relations was the Muslim world, in particular, Afghanistan and Turkey . This problem may not be minor for Russia and now - both by virtue of geopolitics, and by virtue of presence in our country of the big Muslim population. And the Russian president should to resolve a complicated problem, find such form of support for USA and such way of participation - nonparticipation in operations that it should meet the interests of Russia.

- What principles of resolving would satisfy interests of Russia?

- In Afghanistan there should be no only pro-American government. Support of actions of USA must be organized so that to keep influence of Russia in this region after the termination of antiterrorist operation. I think that president Putin took into consideration this during the negotiations with President Bush. If in Afghanistan there will be a pro-American government what orientation will be among Central - Asian states of the CIS? Geopolitic and economic interests there are closely bound. We should take into account all this.

- Do you consider that presence of USA in Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan already resulted in weakening the Russian influence in this part of CIS?

- It is necessary to make such way to avoid this result. We should proceed from that Russia kept the presence at these regions in civilized forms. This is the main task of our politics for today.

- What ways it is possible to achieve?

- It is sure, that Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan have coordinated with Russia the actions on granting air space and air stations to USA. Other important point - the further role of Russia - should be completely taken into account while forming the post-war structure of Afghanistan.

- The left in Russia criticize rapproachement of Russia and USA. From the point of view of ideology of the right centre you recently spoke much, - what most important national problems such a rapproachement helps to solve?

- If the point is consolidation of forces of the world community against terror I think, that criticism here is inappropriate. We see, what a refined technological means use the terrorists. Without close cooperation this threat is impossible to remove. In isolation it is impossible to be in safety from terror. Not to make any steps when all leading countries of the world under USA appeal already got involved in this conflict, Russia can not but do. Other point that it is not necessary to go so far that the staff of the Russian power structures participated in operation.

- How in that case you see the most reasonable forms of co-operation?

This is first of all joint efforts in blocking financial streams, information cooperation at a level of special services. The big diplomatic experience on non-distribution of the mass destruction weapons had been accumulated. Without active use of this experience - who can guarantee, that nuclear, bacteriological or other weapon in due course would not get in hands of those who will try to use all this for terror?

- As far as successfully, in your way, it is possible for United States not to mix antiterrorist struggle with struggle against the Muslim world?

It is a difficult question. Even Moslems themselves can not answer it. If Northern alliance today conducts war with Talibs during Ramadan month, it means, they do not have answer to the given question. Look, how far the world has changed: it happened, the Moslems on Fridays were not at war. And now even in Ramadan they are at war!

- So, USA manages to divide it?

- I think, that USA do not perceive the conflict as struggle of two faiths or two worlds - Christian and Muslim. It is not in their interests. Anyway, president Bush emphasizes this all the time. And before the beginning of month Ramadan he addressed with a congratulation to all Moslems of the world.

Secular Islam against fanaticism

- What, in your opinion, reaction in the Islamic world on terrorist attacks and the subsequent actions of Washington?

- In the Russian Islamic world official statements were made by muftis Ravil Gajnutdin, Talgat Tadzhuddin, in Tatarstan - mufti Gusman Ishakov. I can tell, that their reaction reflects an official position of secular authorities and a great bulk of citizens. I thought over the reasons of such attitude and have come to a conclusion, that it to a great extent is connected with the fact that for eighty years we have lived in atheistic society. This or that belief has not taken roots yet in souls of people to that extent that in perceiving such situations the persons were guided by the belief. But, among those who today study in medresse, there are already some individuals who are ready to be at war on the side of Talibs. But these are only few ones. While concerning the mass reaction based on confessional belonging, there is no such one. If to speak about ideology, to estimate the conflict as struggle of two faiths and two worlds - Christian and Muslim - it would be deeply erroneous.

- Whom you on today count as authoritative figures in Muslim clergy of Afghanistan, and whether the Muslim world of Tatarstan maintain contacts with them?

- Moslems of Tatarstan do not support such contacts. And clergy leaders in republic hardly will play an essential role in such communications. Our Moslems - the Sunnis, in Afghanistan there are both the Sunnis and the Shiites . So it would be a simplification to speak, that Northern alliance resists Talibs on these ground. There now all got mixed up. And I am not going to represent it as struggle between the Sunnis and the Shiites

- What in your view, the most expedient policy of Russia in this context? Whether it happens with you to discuss the given subject with Moscow?

- On this subject I had conversation with Vladimir Putin. We touched the issues of reaction by republic's Moslems. I spoke, that prophet in Russia can not appear: the Russian Moslems - Sunnis, and they directly address to the God. But lest to educate further the fanatics on religious ground, in Tatarstan opened the Islamic university where alongside with clergy teach scientists from secular high schools. Now in places of compact Moslems residing there are many mosques appearing, and the clergy who could know and interpret the Koran, is not enough. And in conditions of Russia where traditionally the Orthodox coexists with Islam, we should prepare the clergy, educated in culture of tolerance, respect for home, not for abroad.

Moreover, by joint efforts, the clergy and secular scientists are able to develop the form of a secular Islam suitable to Russia. So, djadidism is widely spread in Tatarstan, meets to these requirements. It is possible to say, that it is Euroislam which was put forward on a joint of XIX and XX centuries by the Tatar enlighteners . It is an Islam which is not denying findings of knowledge and rejecting a secular society. I informed in detail Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin on this subject and handed over the materials on this theme, prepared by theologians and historians of Tatarstan. The president has shown interest to this.

- Why such an attention to djadidism, including in the West right now is shown?

- In many western countries the growing Muslim population became a problem. Take, France, there are about 6 million Moslems. Authorities want to integrate them in a society with European values developed, in particular, individualism. In this sense such features of djadidism as tolerance and absence of a supervising community, draw attention. In France is working the big group of scientists investigating the treatments of the Koran offered by the Tatar theologians.

- In due time State Council of Tatarstan made the statement concerning participation of Russia in the international operation in Kosovo. Whether somehow it is supposed to formulate the attitude of Tatarstan to events in Afghanistan?

This is matter of State Council of Tatarstan. My point of view - such necessity is not present. When the point was ethnic cleanings in Kosovo, I was ready though alone among the Russian politicians to act against president Miloshevich, whose actions were not irreproachable. In Afghanistan the situation is different.

The Chechen Republic: negotiations without intermediaries

- To what extent the situation in the Chechen Republic is connected with international antiterrorist struggle? Is it really true that international terrorists are so active?

- My official position on the Chechen Republic is known since the first days when the way of force was chosen. For all these years I have opposed such form of settlement. But when the Chechen insurgents have crossed border of the Chechen Republic and appeared in territory of Dagestan, I have firmly declared, that it is inadmissible. Then the forces of the international terrorism have fully begun to use a situation in the Chechen Republic. And since then I stand that no country should be reconciled with terrorism.

- Whether participation of Russia in antiterrorist coalition with USA will promote the settlement of the Chechen problem?

- Regarding ideological aspect - yes. Russia already tries long to convince the OSCE, and the Eurounion on correctness of those actions carried out in the territory of the Chechen Republic. But how comprehension of the events in the Chechen Republic has changed in connection with acts of terrorism on September 11, it is obvious to me that the problem demands a political settlement.

- Zakayev recently told, that without such political figures as Primakov, Luzhkov and Shaimiev, political settlement is impossible. Would you agree to undertake similar diplomatic mission?

- For today the Russian authorities have enough forces and opportunities to resolve this issue through the official representatives. Plenipotentiary representative of RF president Victor Kazantsev has received approval on establishing contacts with the Chechen leadership. Moreover, Zakayev, from its part, has already gone for this. Additional intermediaries here are not required. And in general it is necessary to negotiate directly.

- Anyhow, the Kremlin consults with you?

- No, neither talks on participation in negotiations, nor offers were made. But I also do not see necessity in it.

- In 1996, Tatarstan was formal or informal intermediary...

- The situation was different.

- But all the same you enjoy the experience as nobody else. With people who were engaged in it in 1996, consult, they are invited?

- If Kazantzev or administration of the president has the need for such people, I think they would come out. Me, from my part, always for faster transfer to peace ways of settlement. For now, though we continue to speak, that the basic force task in the Chechen Republic solved, the coffins continue to arrive, including in Tatarstan.

- Do you agree that with the Chechen Republic connected in general all internal political and the most part of foreign problems of Russia? On outcome of events in the Chechen Republic depend also the relations between the Centre and regions.

- Even if the world community has agreed with reasons of the Russian leadership about why it was compelled to apply to force levers, it all the same does not solve a problem. Russian leadership will not escape solving it directly with Chechens. Other way is not present. Moreover, Russia always spoke, that it is its internal affair.