The legislature in Chelyabinsk Oblast, a heavily industrialized region in the southern Urals, is hoping to sign an agreement with the federal government on nuclear waste disposal. According to a draft prepared by the regional authorities, the Russian government would work jointly with them on national and international agreements on the processing, storage and burial of nuclear waste on the territory of the region, while the region would be responsible for ensuring safety. Chelyabinsk was the site of one of the USSR’s two main nuclear-weapons design laboratories, and plutonium for the first Soviet atomic bomb was produced at a top-secret reactor complex in the region. But the significance of the proposed agreement seems to be that, under Article 71 of the Russian constitution, all matters relating to nuclear power and missile materials fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal center. The law is fuzzy, since Article 72 assigns issues relating to environmental protection and ecological safety a joint responsibility of the center and the region. Nonetheless, Chelyabinsk’s initiative creates the impression that the oblast, which has a fiercely autonomy-minded and anti-Yeltsin leadership, may be using loopholes in the constitution to increase its sphere of action vis-a-vis the center. (12)
Estonian Army Commander Survives Political Attack.