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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 8, 2004

8 September 2004
Tatarstan Mourns With North Ossetia...
A counterterrorism demonstration organized by the Union of Youth Public Organizations of Tatarstan, trade unions, and the city of Kazan attracted attracted between 500 and 1,000 participants despite the cold, rainy, and windy weather on 7 September, according to "Kommersant-Volga" on 8 September and on 7 September. The area in front of the Mullanur Wakhiov monument where people gathered was fenced in and police checked everyone entering. A placard near the site and leaflets distributed among participants listed a bank account to which people may contribute to help victims of the Beslan tragedy. Participants brought flowers and held lights and placards saying "We Mourn Together With You, Beslan," "Pedagogues Against Terror," "We Need Peace," and "Kazan Mourns."

A counterterrorism demonstration was held at Kazan State University the same day.

Prayers to commemorate victims of the Beslan school attack were held in Tatarstan's mosques and churches. Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board Deputy Chairman Weliulla Yaqupov said the republic's Muslims prayed for the souls of those who died and for rapid recoveries for those injured in the tragedy. On 5 September, Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan held a service for the dead in Kazan's St. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

...As Various Groups Decry Terrorism...
In a statement it released on 7 September concerning the tragic events of 1-3 September in North Ossetia, the Tatarstan State Council noted that the fight against terrorism cannot remain an obligation strictly for law enforcement but should involve all Russia's state and public institutions.

A joint appeal by the heads of Tatarstan's craftsmen's unions was issued on 7 September calling for unity to combat terrorism. The appeal is signed by the chairmen of the Writers Union, the Composers Union, the Artists Union, the Journalists Union, the Architects Union, and the Theater Workers Union. The authors argued that an absence of moral principle makes it difficult to fight evil. They said terrorism has no nationality and that terrorists act under the cover of religious ideas only in an attempt to attach ethnic and religious features to a global disaster.

...And Collect Funds To Help Beslan's Victims
State Council deputies will contribute one day's pay to help the victims of the hostage taking crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, the State Council's presidium announced at its 7 September meeting, reported. The Kazan local administration will transfer one day's wages for a fund to support victims of the Beslan tragedy, the administration's press service reported on 7 September. A similar decision was passed by the Chally local administration.

In Chally's Kamskii State Institute of Physical Culture, a meeting was held on 7 September to honor the victims of the Beslan tragedy during which lecturers and staff announced that they will donate one day's pay to help the victims.

Chally schoolchildren also collected toys and stationery for the children of Beslan. Students of a Chally school will hold an exhibition of pictures titled "We Against Terror."

Russian Air Forces Purchase Tatarstan's Ansat Helicopers
The Kazan Helicopter Plant (KVZ) will deliver the first Ansat training helicopter to the Russian air force in late November, "Kommersant-Volga" reported on 8 September, quoting an unidentified source in the plant's leadership. The aircraft is part of a contract the plant signed with the Russian Defense Ministry in September 2001 after KVZ won a ministry tender to deliver 100 helicopters. The ministry has ordered just two aircraft in place of 100, however, the daily reported. Each helicopter costs $1.4 million. Plant executives consider a contract even on two Ansats important to the aircraft's commercial prospects. KVZ General Director Aleksandr Lavrentev told the daily that the delivery of the Ansat to the Russian air force will be the best recommendation for foreign customers. He said the plant already has orders for Ansat but refused to specify to which customers.

Russia's leading manufacturer of universal Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, KVZ put out 6.5 billion rubles' ($222 million) worth of production in 2003 and posted a 1.1 billion-ruble profit. Some 80 percent of its production was exported. The Tatar government holds a roughly 30 percent stake in the company, while another 30 percent stake belongs to KVZ affiliate Trade and Finance Company. KVZ has spent some $80 million to design and promote its new models of light helicopters, the Ansat and the Aqtai.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Presidential Spokesperson Boasts Of Diversity Of Independent Media
Bashkir presidential press secretary Rostislav Murzagulov told "Ufimskie vedomosti" in an interview published on 7 August that in his opinion the republic is witnessing "a spontaneous and absolutely free development of the media market." To support this statement, he referred to the fact that two major Russian independent dailies, "Kommersant" and "Vedomosti," are opening offices in Ufa.

Murzagulov added that Bashkortostan also has a vast number of new independent media, including print publications and Internet sites.

While he mentioned that the number of TV viewers is growing in Bashkortostan, Murzagulov failed to comment on the recent shutdowns of the local TV-6 and TNT channels. "It is the duty of government bodies to provide all the necessary information to the chief editors of the media, while the chief editors should themselves choose what to do with this information, while setting the necessary emphasis," he said.

Privatization Of Housing On The Rise Again
Some 67 percent of Ufa's housing sector is already in privatized, special municipal Real Estate Center director Vladislav Nikitin told Bashinform on 7 September. Nikitin told Bashinform that the privatization process began in Bashkortostan in April 1992, and was conducted with the help of the republic's city and regional administrations. Nikitin added that the number of applications to privatize housing has increased lately because the draft federal Housing Code currently being considered by Moscow mentions the coming end to the free privatization of housing.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi