Материалы для чтения the four freedoms as part of europeanization process: conditions and effectiveness of the eu impact

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3.2. History as a “Speech Act”

Basically, Tatarstan’s identity policy is very much centered around symbolically constructing and reinventing the feelings of historical peculiarities of Tatarstan and its specific mentality. Professor Mikhail Guboglo, Deputy Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, treats Tatarstani identity policy as that one ascribing ethnic meanings to political events and phenomena, and those imposing ethnically overloaded markers to the regional society1821.
In Tatarstan’s struggle for autonomy and self-rule, historical arguments are of tremendous importance. The majority of local historians tend to treat Tatarstan’s history as opposed to Russian. It is widely assumed that in the past the Tatar’s tradition of statehood were as rich as those of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and other newly independent states. Rafael Khakim assumes that legacy of the Russian statehood ought to be derived from the times of Golden Horde whose successor was Muscovite Russia. He argues that the Mongol system was an advantage for Russian states since they got political and military protection vis-a-vis the West1822. In Indus Tagirov’s assessment, the 10% taxation practiced by the Golden Horde is miniscule in comparison to what the federal center nowadays takes away from the regions. Moreover, the Russian Orthodox Church under Golden Horde domination was the only social institution that enjoyed meaningful privileges, including financial ones1823.

It is quite symptomatic that Tatarstan tried to persuade the federal authorities to cancel the official celebration of the anniversary of the famous Kulikovo Pole battle in which the Russian prince Dmitry Donskoy has defeated the army of Mamai, which marked the beginning of Russia’s liberation from Tatar-Mongol yoke. Two letters – one from President Shaimiev and another one from “Vatan” party – were addressed to the administration of the Russian President in 2001, both arguing that honoring this historical event might offend the feelings of the bulk of soldiers and officers of Tatar origin1824.
Yet this is only one part of the story. The second group of indigenous historians reinterpret the history of Tatar-Russian in basically mutually complimentary terms, avoiding counter-positioning of two peoples. Tatars are treated as an organic, integral part of the Russian nation. Certain times – like the reign of Katherine the Second who allowed to build up mosques, and the first years of the Soviet regime where the Tatar’s autonomy was first appeared and the new opportunities for cultural revival were opened – are praised in Tatarstan more than others (like the seizure of Kazan’ by Ivan the Terrible), but even the hard times in the history are usually referred to in rather conciliatory way.

3.3. Islam Rediscovered

Historically, starting from 922 Tatarstan was the Northern outpost of Islam – more than half-a-century earlier than Russia accepted Orthodox Christianity. With the centuries Tatarstani Islam evolved to “Euroislam”, religious ideology adaptable to modernization and economic innovations. Probably, the Turkey secularized model would best match the “Euroislam” political ideal. “Euroislam” is one of the most influential – both politically and intellectually – school of thought in Tatarstan, whose importance might be compared with “Euroasianism” in Russia which is on the rise.
“Euroislam” tried to integrate – as the “Eurasian” ideology in Russia does - the adherence to Asian historical legacy with acceptance of modern European thinking, yet it challenges basic assumptions of “Euroasianism” in many ways. Many in Tatarstan think that “Euroasian” model was formed under heavy influence of Orthodox religion and hence leaves no space for Tatarstani peculiar identity. Orthodox culture, as interpreted in Tatarstan, is anti-democratic, illiberal and impractical, unable to meet the challenges of modernity and not suitable for Tatarstan1825. Russia, according to these views, is unable to efficiently play the role of the bridge between the Europe and Asia: being dominated by Orthodoxy it is opposed by the East, and being ostensibly illiberal it is not welcome in the West1826. In trying to rebuff the vision of Russia as the Orthodox nation build up exclusively by ethnically Russian population, President Shaimiev sided up with the heads of two other republics – Murtaza Rakhimov of Bashkortostan and Mikhail Nikolaev of Yakutia – to issue in 1995 a joint open letter to President Yeltsin demanding more rights for ethnic regions1827.
The core differences between the two approaches are illustrated in the table below.

TABLE 3: “Euroislam” Compared with “Eurasianism”


Euroislam (Jadidism)

Russia is overwhelmingly Orthodox nation

Tatarstan is a part of non-Orthodox world

There is the Russian civilization which incarnates a single, indivisible destiny for all peoples of the country

There is no civilizational uniformity in Russia; the Russian state is able to unite different people only by force

Historically Europe was a threat to Russia

Europe does not represent any menace to Tatarstan

Collectivity and communitarian solidarity are the most important dominants of the society in Russia

Individualism and entrepreneurship would open up Tatarstan to the world

Military force is a prerequisite for national pride and glory

Russia is overmilitarized and prone to solve conflicts by force which might turn into catastrophe (like that one in Chechnia)

Messianism, the ambition to assimilate ethnically non-Russian groups

Region-oriented approaches, concerns about survival of Tatar ethnicity

“The Russian world” embeds all countries of the former Soviet Union

Russia has to recognize the independence of its former satellites and let them live their own lives

Russia might expect to be a strong country only on the basis of centralization

Russia’s decentralization would help solving the most acute issues (crime, border security, etc.)

In view of local activists of Tatar revival, Islam traditionally was a means of keeping cultural autonomy of local residents suppressed by Russians. At the same time, thanks to Islam, Tatars are able to expect deeper participation and involvement in the world community of nations. This is why “Euroislam” is very much supportive of intensive contacts between religious groups of Tatarstan and that ones of the West.
Shaimiev’s endeavor is to unite all Muslims of Tatarstan, and later to turn Kazan’ into Russia’s Islamic capital1828. This concept is based upon dubious presumption of internal coherence of Tatar ethnic community, and its ability to act as a single political actor. However, this ambitious strategy encounters essential obstacles that stem from multi-confessional nature of Tatarstani socio-political space.
First of all, Tatarstani religious elite is very fragmented and lacks cohesion1829. It is divided among adherents of different versions of Islam (Turkish, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, etc.). Competition and tensions between different Islamic groups are not rare. Experts testify that the alumni of foreign Islamic institutions (including ethnic Tatars) that come to Tatarstan for missionary activities, are very much politically indoctrinated with anti-Russian feelings, and due to that face opposition from local Islamic believers1830.
Secondly, three fourth of all Tatars reside outside of Tatarstan (all across Russia and CIS countries, as well as in Turkey, China, Poland, Finland, USA, Afghanistan, Canada, Australia). John Coakley characterizes Tatars as the locally weak, territorially dispersed group.1831 Their predominance in Tatarstan isn’t overwhelming since they constitute only 47,7% of its population. The republic accounts for only 26 percent of the overall total Tatar world population.
Moreover, Tatars, as shown in Susan Goodrich Lehmann’s study, along with Bashkirs display the lowest level of both religious belief and practice among all the Islamic people of Russia1832. Rafik Mukhametshin, Deputy Director of “Tatar Encyclopedia” Institute, admits that “the comeback of the Islam values to the Tatarstani society is neither steady nor stable”1833. Shaimiev himself recognized that he does not practice Islam1834. Farid Mukhametshin, the chairman of the State Council, had just recently started learning Tatar language1835.
Thirdly, there is a wide spread feeling among Tatarstani political and intellectual elites that excessive influence of religious institutions might endanger the internal stability and the modernization drive1836. The government is not among the most lavish sponsors of restoring the mosques – the funds for this purpose are basically taken from abroad.
Fourthly, living for centuries in closest ties with the Russians makes Tatarstani Islam adjusted to the Russian culture and the Russian nationhood. In fact, Tatarstani Islam is a “border phenomenon” in a sense that it unfolds at the edges of two civilizations – Orthodox and Islamic.
All these facts offer plausible explanation why Tatarstan elite had opted for relatively liberal and civilized form of nationalism. Tatarstani authorities are in no way eager to open the doors to its radical versions as it was the case of Chechnia1837. This is Shaimiev’s intentional policy to marginalize – in one way or another – extremist religious groups. On numerous occasions officials in Kazan’ have explicitly stated that there is no room for vahhabism in Tatarstan1838. One of the strongest arguments against pan-Islamism is that it rejects ethnic and cultural specificity of each individual ethnic group.
Tatarstan’s search for identity begs another important question – to what extent the ethnic nationalism is compatible with the liberal values. It is still under discussion whether Tatarstan is heading for establishing a civic or ethnocentric identity1839. Up to now, religion issues in Tatarstan were not conducive to deep cleavages between the Russians and the Tatars. There are some sociological grounds for expecting that the concept of civic identity is to prevail in the long run. The civic identity trend might be reinforced by widely spread assumptions of psychological proximity of the Russians and the Tatars, and inter-ethnic loyalty1840.

After having analyzed Tatarstan’s identity policies, which have been heavily biased towards symbolic interpretations, we have to turn to economic aspects of Tatarstan’s search for its place in the world.
4.1. The General Picture
The federal legislation makes distinction between “foreign economic relations” (the function of the federal government) and “foreign economic contacts” (the function of the Tatarstani authorities). Whatever they are officially called, foreign economic policy of Tatarstan is one of the most important elements of its bid for worldwide recognition and international performance.
Tatarstan is one of key economic regions in the Volga Federal District taking the lead in car building, aircraft and petrochemical industries. The creation of manufacturing and productive networks within VFD is considered to foster development of all three of them.

Attraction of foreign investments is considered one of the major incentives for Tatarstan, ranked second on foreign investments per capita in 1998 among all Russia’ regions1841. It is acknowledged by foreign experts as the region with medium level of investment potential and low level of risk.1842 It was one of the first Russian regions to start developing local legal base for foreign economic activities. Its legislation on investment stipulates various incentives and preferences for companies that were created in cooperation with foreign partners1843.
In January 1999 the Law “On Investment Activities in the Republic of Tatarstan” came into force. During the first year enterprises get a temporary exemption from the profit tax to the regional budget. Moreover, the property is levied with only 50% tax. The Law of March 1996 “On the Status of Approved Investment Projects with Foreign Investor Participation” extends the period of benefits for investors. They are in a position to take exemptions on various taxes for the time span from one to five years with subsequent prolongation. The Decree of President of Tatarstan of October 1994 “On Encouragement of Attraction of Foreign Investments into the Republic of Tatarstan” grants additional tax privileges to enterprises where the participation of foreign investors is not less than 30% or not less than $ 1 million. In 1998 Tatarstan’s parliament created two free economic zones - “Alabuga” and “Kamskie Poliany” with the time span of 25 years1844.

In 1998 Tatarstan had introduced its Land Code providing the foreigners with access to region’s land market. Sales to foreigners, however, were restricted to purchases from the state, and therefore foreigners were unable to buy land held in common by rural residents. In January 2001 President Shaimiev became the chief proponent of introducing the private property on land all across Russia, referring to the need of bettering general investment climate.
Tatarstan is one of the regions to establish working contacts with the Foreign Investment Promotion Center of Russia (FIPC). This institution was set up in 1995 under the auspices of the Economy Ministry and has established the network of offices abroad. The FIPC facilitates in shaping relationships between Russian regions and foreign investors. This enables Tatarstan to utilize the services of the FIPC in search for investment projects proposals. Simultaneously, Tatarstan as most Russia’s regions develops its own business promotion centers. Thus, the Tatarstan Center for Investments Promotion coordinates activities of governmental, financial and non-financial institutions in the investment process, and facilitates adopting and realization of investment projects.
According to Committee on Statistics of Tatarstan, the 1997-1998 period was the most successful in the attraction of foreign investments. Only in 2000 the Republic has managed to smooth out the negative consequences of the August 1998 financial crash. The inflow of foreign investments in the first half of 2000 totaled $ 46 million.
Tatarstan proliferates its contacts beyond national borders. In January 1999 the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce concluded an agreement with the Swiss Organization for Facilitating Investment (SOFI) to pave the way for the investment cooperation, information exchange, marketing research.
About 90% of Tatarstan’s export is related to oil industry1845. “Tatneft’”, region’s leading oil company, was among the first Russian firms to start trading its shares in New York Stock Exchange. It received the highest rate among all VFD enterprises in 2001 “Financial Times” rating of Eastern European companies in terms of market capitalization1846. In March 2001 the “Fitch” international agency has raised “Tatneft’”’s rating from CC to B, which indicates to company’s stability1847. “Tatneft’” has also rather ambitious international plans, basically related to Iraq. The contract signed with Iraqi authorities and approved by UN in spring 2001, stipulates delivery to Iraq of oil processing equipment and joint exploitation of oil deposits1848. Similar negotiations with Iran, Jordan, Mongolia, Lybia and Vietnam are underway as well1849.
One can’t expect that intensive contacts with Iraqi regime would be applauded in the West. Except for “Tatneft’”, other local economic actors – “KamAZ” car producer, Kazan Helicopter Factory and “Nizhnekamskshina” plant – are cooperating with Bagdad1850. Yet what might be quite in tune with the Western policies is demilitarizing the economy and reducing the military production, to which many regional policy makers in Tatarstan are very much in favour. In Marat Galeev’s view, excessive military buildup impedes economic restructuring1851.

4.2. Economic Protectionism and Its Critics
At a quick glance, Tatarstan seems to be one of few isles of relative stability and prosperity in the sea of Russian shaky economy. Yet the “Tatarstani economic miracle” has still a long way to go. In spite of significant privileges for developing its own external relations, Tatarstan de facto is far from be called a “gate-region” to the international economy.
In the late 1990s, 65% of all sales transactions in the republic were barter operations. Tatarstan has one of the worst records for wage and pension arrears in the country. In 1998 authorities of Tatarstan have imposed price control on food. In November 1998 Tatarstan became the first Russian region to default on its foreign financial obligations1852.
One of basic challenges for Tatarstani economy is that “agriculture is the unconditional priority in Tatarstan”1853, according to the chairman of the permanent commission on economic development and reforms at the State Council of Tatarstan Marat Galeev. Yet others think that “the agrarian sector as it exists nowadays is doomed to disappear”1854.
In other areas, too, the criticism is being heard. Viktor Mal’guin, Professor of Kazan’ Institute for Finances and Economy, describes the export structure of Tatarstan as irrational, since it is dominated by crude oil sales (Tatarstan lacks its own refineries). In his assessments, two thirds of the Tatarstan’s industry has to be either closed or radically upgraded1855. Specialists doubt whether the defense industry might be considered as the engine of Tatarstani economic progress1856, since none of the region’s defense enterprises is licensed to sell abroad.
Rinas Kashbraziev, Professor of Kazan’ State University, claims that the investment process in Tatarstan is in crisis, since the bulk of enterprises are either insolvent or economically weak1857. In 1997 this region was a destination for $ 697,9 million foreign investments, while FDIs made up only $17,1 million, or 2,5%. Absorbing 0,44 % of FDIs inflow in Russia that year, Tatarstan ranks only sixth among Russian regions on cumulative FDIs.1858 According to FIPC review, based on Goskomstat data of July 1999, Tatarstan was the host for $ 1135,9 million, whereas FDIs totaled only $ 87,7 million. “KamAZ”, the leading car-building factory, in the late 1990s not only has accumulated an enormous debt, but also failed to take advantage of the partnership with the American company “Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts”.1859
Tatarstan is known for a unique combination of liberal and protectionist economic policies. Thus, this is the official policy of Shaimiev to stimulate the small business development, which undoubtedly is an important part of the liberal economic agenda. At the same time, however, Tatarstani small and medium enterprises are forced to sell the agreed share of their production to the local economic operators, regardless of better offers from outside of the republic1860.
There are several components of Tatarstani practice of economic protectionism. First, President Shaimiev was one of the most ardent opponents of the “shock therapy” and the liberal reforms as exemplified by Gaidar government in 1991-1992. In Shaimiev’s words, “we have chosen the soft-entry path onto the market”1861, which brought palpable results for regional high-ups. Those, privatization didn’t allow the most viable industries (oil company “Tatneft’”, “KamAZ” car-building plant and other major enterprises) to get out of control of Tatarstani authorities. Regional elites fend off the local enterprises of the competitors from other regions and apply a variety of administrative measures to oversight the activities of export-oriented enterprises.
The sphere where the state control is especially tight is oil and gas industry. For example, all oil export of Tatarstan goes through “Suvar” company which is empowered to conduct a single economic and financial policy in foreign markets. The government of Tatarstan is empowered to create the “republic’s fund for oil and gas reserves”1862. According to the Presidential decree of March 4, 2000, all oil companies registered in Tatarstan are supposed to sell to the state 25,1% of their shares, the measure that is needed to secure economic interests of the republic. In exchange, the Tatarstani government pledged to render support to the regional oil and gas companies and defend their interests1863.
Local economist Ilias Ilaldinov argues that economic policies of Tatarstani leaders are modeled after old-style apparatchiks, and are motivated merely by the “instinct of survival”. Should the economic reforms proceed more successfully in Russia, Tatarstan would be economically marginalized due to lack of demarcation line between the property and the power, and heavy reliance on “regional capital”. In fact, Ilaldinov assumes, Tatarstan is building the “Asian-style” economy prone to stagnation1864.
Among other troubling matters observers have extensively commented on failure of “Tatneft’” to service its international debts, which overwhelmingly was explained by excessive dependence of this oil company on the government policies1865. Foreign investors claimed that the government of Tatarstan misused funds of “Tatneft’”1866. In 1998 Tatarstan failed to return the credit of $ 100 million to ING Barrings, Dutch bank that had credited Tatarstan’s eurobonds project. “The Round Table of Tatarstan”, an association of different political blocks and movements (from communists and social democrats to pro-liberal “Democratic Choice of Russia”), has accused “the clan of Shaimiev” in economic inefficiency and personal enrichment1867. The on-line Free Lance Bureau agency accuses the “Shaimiev clan” – which includes numerous relatives of the head of republic - in practicing shadow business operations, basically with oil exportation1868. It also has reported numerous cases of mismanagement of public funds and economic paternalism in the region1869.
Second, the economic strategy of Tatarstan is aimed at reliance upon its indigenous resources. Thus, building its own oil refinery was considered as the foremost economic priority1870. Some experts propose that Tatarstan has to invest resources for producing “peculiar types of goods” (like “Muslim-style” accessories with special design), creating “Tatar-oriented” economic institutions (like Tatar national bank to accumulate the funds of Diaspora) and the “Muslim infrastructure” (including special food stores and medical institutions, etc.)1871. Presidential decree of March 20, 2001 ruled that the Tatartani Ministry of Mass Communications has to run PR campaign intended to advertise local products and stimulate positive public perceptions of local producers1872. Some experts deem that Tatarstan’s economic strategy is that one of differentiating from its Russian competitors (Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg, etc.)1873 and basically corresponds to the global “Islam finances” concept1874.
Third, another element of Tatarstani economic policy is lobbying in Moscow in favour of tax privileges for those companies that trade in foreign markets1875. The economic sovereignty of Tatarstan was very much based upon the preferences it obtained from the central government. As far as in 1994 Tatarstan received the right to have at its disposal all excises for alcoholic beverages, 50% of all VAT collected in the republic, and the revenues from oil export to “far abroad” countries (5 million of tons per year)1876.
Fourth, despite widely publicized “economic openness”, Tatarstani legislation contains a number of rather restrictive clauses. Thus, the “Law on Foreign Investments in the Republic of Tatarstan” does not guarantee private investors from nationalization of their properties. The law does not secure investors’ interests in cases of changing the legislation in such areas as defense and national security, public order, export and import of strategically important items, ecology, and anti-trust measures. The State Council is empowered to establish restrictions for foreign capital “in those industries having vital interest for the republic”1877.
Yet some good changes are nevertheless underway. The first year of Tatarstan’s inclusion to the VFD gave rise to much more liberal approaches in economy. In 2001 address to the State Council President Shaimiev acknowledged that the state regulation of economic activities, with the exception of some monopolies, became obsolete, and in Tatarstan the conditions are ripe for diminishing the state control over economy1878. Tatarstan was the home to the first “single window” center for business registration – that one which integrates numerous agencies in charge of issuing business licenses. This “right-on-the-spot” unit is aimed at relieving entrepreneurs from multiple applications to different bureaucratic entities in order to start the business, and diminishing corruption1879.

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  • 3.3. Islam Rediscovered
  • TABLE 3: “Euroislam” Compared with “Eurasianism”
  • Russia is overwhelmingly Orthodox nation