Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 83

By appointing Viktor Khristenko as one of only three deputy prime ministers and instructing him to occupy himself exclusively with center-periphery relations, Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko has made it clear that his government intends to set relations with Russia’s headstrong regions on a new footing. The federal government has shown increasing concern in recent weeks over the powers the regions have wrested from the center. As mentioned above, the federal government has already signaled its intention to renegotiate some of the agreements that underpin the 1994 power-sharing treaty with Tatarstan. In February, Russia’s Supreme Court intervened to prevent Ingushetia’s President Ruslan Aushev from staging a referendum in his republic that would have approved his government’s attempt to assert control over the judiciary on the territory of the republic. Tatarstan and Bashkortostan have also made moves to assert jurisdiction over the courts in their republics. The Monitor’s corespondent in Saratov Oblast reports that the oblast court there is challenging a decision by Oblast Governor Dmitri Ayatskov to set up his own Security Council and to give it the right to control the law-enforcement bodies on the territory of the oblast.

On April 27, Russia’s Constitutional Court overruled an attempt by Bashkortostan’s parliament to require candidates for election as president of the republic to speak both Bashkir and Russian. (RIA news agency, April 27) Meanwhile, in the Republic of Buryatia, President Leonid Potapov has announced a referendum in which residents will be asked to support a four-year moratorium on the sale of agricultural land on the territory of the republic. (RIA news agency, April 27) Such a measure would fly in the face of the Russian constitution, which guarantees the right to private land ownership. As deputy prime minister in charge of regulating the center’s relations with the regions, Viktor Khristenko is going to be a busy man.