Ildus Ilishev, formerly an adviser to the President of Bashkortostan, told an audience at Washington’s Kennan Institute on June 9 that the power-sharing treaty which Bashkortostan signed with the Russian Federation in August 1994 gave the republic the autonomy it needed to make a success of its economy. Bashkortostan is now one of only ten economically strong Russian regions that are net contributors to the federal budget. According to a Monitor correspondent, Ilishev said that such power-sharing treaties are playing an important role at the present stage of development of Russia’s federal system, but that one day they will outlive their usefulness.
Ilishev expressed concern, however, at signs that the central government may be considering abandoning the system of power-sharing treaties. Russian nationalist leaders already object to them, arguing that the treaties violate the spirit of the Russian constitution. Ilishev said he hoped the central government will continue to respect the desire of many regions to follow their own paths of development in a way that takes account of the specific needs and customs of the local populations. By way of example, Ilishev said that when a large company is privatized in Bashkortostan, republic law requires a government representative to be given a seat on the board. Critics say this allows the government to interfere in private enterprise, but, Ilishev claimed, this model has in fact enabled the government to prevent organized crime from penetrating business in Bashkortostan to the extent that it has in other republics.
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