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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 28, 2004

28 January 2004
Three Chosen To Run Putin's Re-Election Campaign In Tatarstan
Russian President Vladimir Putin has chosen three people to run his re-election campaign in the Tatarstan Republic -- Kazan State University rector Myakzyum Salakhov, KamAZ general director Sergei Kogogin, and Gulnara Segeeva, who heads the Segeeva and Partners law firm, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 28 January. Unified Russia party activists interviewed by RFE/RL said the three are preparing to launch Putin's re-election campaign after he is officially registered as a presidential candidate by Russia's Central Election Commission.

Russia Reportedly Plans To Combine Russian Aircraft Manufacturers
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin has said that Russia plans to establish a single state-owned company combining the country's major aircraft manufacturers -- Ilyushin, Tupolev, MiG, and Sukhoi -- in two years' time, RIA-Novosti reported on 27 January. Moscow will reportedly publish a draft of the future merger by March. Such a merger would affect the Kazan's Gorbunov aircraft plant (KAPO), which traditionally has been an affiliate of Tupolev's aircraft-construction bureau.

Tatar Government Reports Major Gains On Payment Of Back Wages
Sarie Siburskaya, head of the Tatar government's social-development department, told reporters on 27 January that the republic expects to pay off wages arrears by the end of this year by means of a crackdown on major debtor enterprises, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 28 January. In January, the amount of back wages owed fell to some $5 million.

Another Businessman Reportedly Kidnapped In Chally
Chally businessman Mikhail Shargorodskii, director of the Mutual Credit Fund Ltd., has reportedly been kidnapped, according to "Vechernyaya Kazan" of 27 January. Investigators with the Chally city police speculated that it is possible Shargorodskii might have faked his kidnapping because of controversy involving his company, which pledged assistance in obtaining mortgage loans to residents in many cities of Tatarstan, according to the newspaper. Chally experienced a series of kidnappings involving businessmen last summer, as well as the arrest of the Tagiryanoskie gang (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 September 2003).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Congress Argues For Leaving Tatar Language's Status Unofficial
The Bashkir World Congress has issued a statement saying Tatar should not be given either state or official status in Bashkortostan, arguing that changing the status of languages in the republic requires a referendum and an amendment to the republican constitution, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported on 27 January. The group has suggested in the past that it would not oppose making Tatar an official, but not a state, language. It has also argued that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov's pledge to raise the status of Tatar was misrepresented. Bashkir State Council Deputy Guzel Sitdyiqova told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 27 January that calls for a change in the status of Tatar language are "provocation." She added that Tatarstan, not Bashkortostan, should promote the development of Tatar.

Bashkir World Congress leaders criticized Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev for his appeal to Rakhimov during the Bashkir presidential campaign to revise the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, saying the move constituted interference in Bashkortostan's domestic affairs. Some Bashkir activists have charged that it is Tatarstan's political leadership, and not Bashkortostan's Tatars, who have pressed the issue.

Education Ministry Opposes Teaching Orthodoxy In Schools
Representatives of the Bashkir presidential administration and the Education Ministry oppose an initiative by Patriarch Aleksii II to see a requirement that secondary-school students complete a class on the principles of Orthodoxy, RosBalt reported on 27 January. The patriarch suggested on 25 January that the pre-revolutionary tradition of teaching hagiography to children should be revived in Russia. Russian Education Minister Vladimir Filippov stated his readiness to back the proposal.

Deputy Education Minister Natalya Golysheva told the news agency that such a move "would be short-sighted in such a multiconfessional republic as Bashkortostan." Golysheva said the introduction of teaching any religion "cannot be ordered from above or be [made] obligatory." Golysheva also said that if the Russian Education Ministry insists on the obligatory teaching of Orthodoxy in schools, its Bashkir counterpart will instead introduce a class on the "principles of religions," without any emphasis on Orthodoxy.

The head of the Bashkir presidential administration's information department, Marat Jamalov, told RosBalt that the obligatory teaching of orthodoxy in schools is unacceptable. "Russia is a multinational and multifaith country in which religion is separated from the state," Jamalov said. "How will a Muslim child who is forced to study the principles of Orthodoxy feel?"

Bashkir Laws Still Not Harmonized With Federal Legislation
The Russian Justice Ministry's chief of its Bashkir directorate has concluded that 104 laws in Bashkortostan contradict federal law, RosBalt reported on 27 January. Contentious legislation includes republican laws on referendums, State Assembly resolutions on parliamentary regulations, managing and disposing of state property, and the activities of notaries. Some 120 laws were harmonized with federal legislation last year, including the law on Bashkortostan's State Assembly and the republican land and labor codes.

Lufthansa Plans To Launch Regular Ufa Route
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and Lufthansa airlines' regional director for Russia and the CIS concluded a preliminary agreement on 27 January on the establishment of direct flights between Ufa and Frankfurt, RosBalt reported the same day. A final decision on the issue is expected by 10 February, leaving time to launch the route in time for summer, the agency reported. Germany is Bashkortostan's second-largest foreign trading partner, with annual bilateral trade turnover of $216 million.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova