Izvestia, March 1, 2002, p. 2 EV

On February 28, the new edition of the Constitution of Tatarstan was adopted in the first reading at a session of Tatarstan’s State Council. President Mintimer Shaimiyev, who delivered his annual address to the parliament, presented the basic clauses of the new Constitution.

In accord with the new Constitution, the Republic of Tatarstan is a sovereign state, the subject of international law, associated with Russia on the basis of the agreement between Moscow and Kazan. The new edition of the Constitution fortifies the republic’s sovereign status as well.

“We realize that some will not like the mention of sovereignty in the Constitution of Tatarstan. However, Russia’s Constitution recognizes republics as states. Consequently, it is impossible to reject the notion of sovereignty either hypothetically or practically,” Mintimer Shaimiyev said at the session.

According to the new Constitution, Tatarstan has its own citizenship, but “citizens of the Republic of Tatarstan are at the same time citizens of the Russian Federation.” According to Shaimiyev, the notion of “citizenship of Tatarstan” is symbolic, linked with the fact that Tatarstan is acknowledged as a state, but regulates no relations in real life.

“Strengthening the functions of state languages – Tatar and Russian – in the Constitution is extremely important for us,” President Shaimiyev emphasized in his address.


Izvestia, March 1, 2002, p. 2 EV

On February 28, a meeting of heads of Special Rapid Response Force detachments of the federal districts of Russia took place at the Interior Ministry, chaired by Alexander Ovchinnikov, head of the Department for Combating Organized Crime. Logistical support for personnel sent on tours of duty, including those sent to Chechnya, was the main item on the agenda. Meanwhile, not only soldiers of the special force, but many other members of the law enforcement agencies are showing concern about tours of duty to Chechnya being prolonged from three months to six months.

Order No. 30 was signed by the interior minister on January 15. From now on, the law enforcement personnel will be sent to Chechnya not for three months as before, but for six months. Changeovers of personnel are rather expensive. According to the minister, changeovers take up a lot of time and the transport costs a great deal. Such a change raised some murmurs among the law enforcement agencies, threatening a wave of resignations.

“We have already discussed six-month tours of duty with our soldiers, and half of the detachment are ready to resign,” said Sergei Novikov, deputy commander for personnel at the Police Rapid Response Force of Sergiyev Posad.


Rossiiskaya Gazeta, March 1, 2002, EV

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov arrives in Rome on March 1. He will hold talks with his Italian counterpart, who is also Prime Minister of Italy: Silvio Berlusconi.

Everything was revealed just in time: the main goal of Igor Ivanov’s visit to Rome is to prepare an official visit by Silvio Berlusconi to Moscow. That visit is scheduled for early April.

Italy’s diplomats have no doubts that the talks will be a success. In fact, no serious problems exist in relations between our states. Bilateral relations are on an upswing. Last year, Russian-Italian trade turnover grew by 40%. Silvio Berlusconi gives priority to economic relations. The reforms he has launched at the Italian Foreign Ministry are aimed at strengthening the economic component in the work of the Foreign Ministry.

Our states have much in common in approaches to key international problems. Both Italy and Russia think there should be a resolute battle against international terrorism. However, Rome speaks in favor of collective and agreed-upon actions and prefers preventive medicine to surgery. Italy does not approve of expanding the hostilities to other states.


Moskovsky Komsomolets, March 1, 2002, p. 2

Abkhazia has finally responded to reports of the possible presence of the US military in Georgia. Abkhazian sources say that a referendum in favor of joining Russia may be held.

The National Assembly of Abkhazia wants to adopt an address to Russia as soon as this year, the sources reported. However, the current constitution of Abkhazia does not permit such a union, and only envisages “associated relations” with other states. A referendum could resolve this problem.

The main difficulty lies elsewhere – Russia will not risk such a move, in order not to aggravate its complicated relations with Georgia… Meanwhile, it has become known that Abkhazian leader Ardzinba has been undergoing medical treatment at a clinic in Moscow for the past month. “He has problems with his speech,” the doctors say delicately.


Parlamentskaya Gazeta, March 1, 2002, p. 2

On February 28, a meeting of heads of committees and commissions of the upper house was held at the Federation Council, chaired by Deputy Speaker Andrei Vikharev. The senators’ task is to form a working group which would be able to coordinate the lawmaking efforts of the regions. Vikharev says that an Advisory Council, which will unite all heads of the regional legislatures, will be set up on March 1.

It is worth noting that Vikharev presented the idea of establishing the Advisory Council at the latest meeting of the Federation Council’s top officials with Vladimir Putin.

Commenting on results of the meeting, Vikharev said that besides the speakers of the regional legislatures, the Advisory Council will also include Vadim Gustov, Gennadiy Burbulis, Vladimir Platonov and Alexander Kazakov.