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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 17, 2005


17 March 2005
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Putin Meets With KamAZ Truck Racing Team
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the members of the KamAZ Master truck-racing team at Russia's central automotive testing ground in Dmitrov, near Moscow, on 16 March, according to the presidential press service. Putin used the opportunity to congratulate the racers of the Tatarstan-based team on their victory in this year's Dakar race, which is considered the unofficial world championship of off-road racing. After taking a KamAZ sport truck for a test drive, Putin saw several modifications of KamAZ trucks produced in Tatarstan.

Later the same day, Putin told the KamAZ racing team that he admired the their achievements, adding that their team was a symbol for the Russia's entire automotive industry, as KamAZ showed how to produce a competitive product both for domestic and foreign markets.

Putin also told the team that they will receive state awards at an official ceremony to be arranged later in the Kremlin.

Daily Suggests Tatar Parliament Will Unanimously Support Shaimiev's Candidacy...
Following President Putin's official nomination of Mintimer Shaimiev as Tatarstan's president, the republican parliament is unlikely to cause any difficulties in having the incumbent reappointed for his fourth term in office, "Kommersant-Daily" wrote on 16 March.

...While Other Predicts Shaimiev Will Have To Offer Something In Return
By offering Shaimiev another five years as president, President Putin invites him and other regional leaders to cooperate, "Vedomosti" wrote on 16 March. According to the daily, in exchange for such guarantees, Putin will expect the governors' support in the 2008 presidential elections.

Iraq's Ambassador Confirms Interest In Cooperation With Tatarstan
Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov met with Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abd al-Karim Hashim Mustafa on 15 March to discuss the joint projects of the Tatneft oil company and Iraq's Oil Ministry for prospecting new oil deposits and supplying the necessary equipment for extracting the prospected oil, Intertat reported the next day. Iraq is reportedly also interested in increasing the imports of Tatarstan-made heavy trucks and tires.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Human Rights Official Repeats Call For Bashkir Interior Heads Dismissal
Ella Pamfilova, head of the presidential Human Rights Council, told reporters on 16 March that she is bewildered by the fact that the heads of the Bashkir Interior Ministry have still not been dismissed, since there is direct evidence that they neglected their duties during the Blagoveshchensk police raid (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 January 2005), NTA reported. Pamfilova said she met with Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov on 15 March to discuss the prosecutor's inspection of the activities of the Bashkir Interior Ministry. Pamfilova described the Blagoveshchensk incident as "scandalous," adding that she has the same position concerning this issue as the Russian ombudsman.

Bashkir Speaker Against Merger Of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan With Other Regions
At a press conference on 15 March in Ufa, Bashkir State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev backed the idea of merging federation entities, saying the number of regions should be reduced from its current 89 to between 25 and 30, Bashinform reported on 16 March. He added that establishment of so many federation subjects in Russia was artificial and was aimed at smoothing potential conflicts. Tolkachev said economic potential must provide grounds for merging regions, which should be able to provide necessary conditions for realization of rights and freedoms of residents and create comfortable conditions for them. Tolkachev emphasized that republics like Bashkortostan and Tatarstan should not be merged with any other subjects since they have proved they are self-sufficient.

Tajetdin Opposes Gainetdin On Teaching Religion In Schools
The Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (TsDUM) headed by Supreme Mufti Telget Tajetdin appealed to the Russian president, government and the Federal Assembly to criticize Council of Muftis of Russia Chairman Ravil Gainetdin on his opposition to teaching religion in secular secondary schools, "Vremya novostei" reported on 16 March. Earlier this month, the Council of Muftis of Russia called for the strict division of educational institutions into secular and religious ones. It argued that in secular schools, Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism should only be taught within the framework of a subject on history of world culture while any other teaching of those religions should be held in religious schools. Gainetdin said, "We are thinking about those [regions] where we are a minority and our children will be forcibly baptized there." Gainetdin also demanded that history of religions be taught only by secular teachers in state schools.

The TsDUM said Gainetdin's statements threaten Russia's Islamic community and Muslim-Orthodox relations and discredit Muslims before Russia's other residents, first of all Orthodox. The TsDUM added that Gainetdin's statement would block those initiatives on studying Muslim culture by children from Muslim families that already exists in state and municipal secondary schools of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the republics of the North Caucasus.

Civic Group Promotes Reference To Nationality In Passport
An initiative group calling for a referendum on restoring a reference to the holder's nationality in passports was registered by the Bashkir Central Election Commission, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 16 March. The group also promotes holding a referendum on whether amendments to the Bashkir Constitution could only be adopted by referendum.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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