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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 18, 2004

18 November 2004
Shaimiev Says Work On Tatar Script Reform Will Continue...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said he believes that the 16 November Russian Constitutional Court ruling did not deprive Tatarstan of its right to resume working on the Latin Tatar script reform, because the court acknowledged that the issue may be resolved via adoption of a federal law, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 November (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 17 November 2004). He emphasized that at present there is no single opinion regarding script reform in Tatarstan, while the Tatar State Council as well as the president took into consideration the will of the World Tatar Congress when endorsing the law on script reform in 1997. Shaimiev admitted that he considers the court's ruling to be "correct," because it would be wrong to take premature action toward reform without taking into consideration the needs of the majority of Tatars who live in regions outside Tatarstan.

...And Praises Decision To Maintain Bilingual Teaching
Commenting on the Constitutional Court ruling confirming the right of Tatarstan's government to introduce the teaching of Tatar language in the same volume as Russian language, President Shaimiev said on 17 November that in his opinion, this standard of education will "assist the furthering of peace and consent in the republic," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. However, he noted that when considering the distribution of class hours, education officials have to consider the actual situation in schools and make sure students are not overloaded. Shaimiev added that mixed marriages where children can speak both Tatar and Russia are an extra factor of unification and comfort.

Zyuganov's Supporters Acknowledge Difficulty Of Taking Over Tatar Branch
The recently elected first secretary of the Russian Communist Party's branch in Tatarstan, Khafiz Mirgalimov, confirmed the expelling of the branch's former leaders, Aleksandr Salii, Nasima Stolyarova, and Rober Sadikov, at a press conference on 17 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The three had attended the 3 July congress of Communists led by Vladimir Tikhonov opposing current Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov. Mirgalimov told reporters that the ousting could be avoided if Zyuganov's opponents "confessed and admitted they were wrong." He emphasized that the decision on expelling the opposition representatives was "by no way inspired or ordered by Gennadii Zyuganov." According to Mirgalimov, despite being expelled, Salii has maintained his control over the party branch and the new leadership is unable to have its own resolutions approved.

Putin Congratulates Kazan State University On Its 200th Anniversary
President Vladimir Putin congratulated the staff of Kazan State University with its 200th anniversary by addressing a special message to the ceremonial conference on 17 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Putin praised the university's contribution to scientific development in Russia and recalled the names of prominent Kazan State University researchers who became known worldwide.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ethnology Expert Says Bashkortostan's Tatars Support Script Reform
Following the 16 November ruling of Russia's Supreme Court, which effectively halted the implementation of the Latin Tatar script reform, Ildar Gebdrefikov, an expert from the Ethnological Monitoring Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Bashkortostan, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent the next day that in numerous previous statements Bashkortostan's Tatars have insisted that the experiment with Tatar script reform be continued. He confirmed that prior to the announcement of the ruling, Tatar civil groups of Bashkortostan addressed their appeals to the court backing the position of the Tatar government. According to Gebdrefikov, the Constitutional Court will be unable to stop the process of reforming the Tatar language.

Bashkortostan's Prices Grow Faster Than Russian Average
According to Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee on 17 November, in 2004 the average price of consumer goods and services in the republic increased by 12.1 percent, which included a 10.2 percent hike in food-stuff prices and an 8.4 percent increase in prices of consumer goods, Volgainform reported the same day. Meanwhile, in the same period the average price of consumer goods and services increased by 9.3 percent.

Bashkir Police Concerned With Public Image
Public opinion polling conducted by Bashkortostan's police revealed that 49 percent of crime victims did not complain to law-enforcement bodies because they believe that the police are unlikely to help, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 November. According to the same research, 52 percent of the respondents have witnessed police officers performing illegal activities, while more than 51 percent of those polled said they "fully trusted the police officers."

Supreme Court Considers Major Drug Case
The Supreme Court of Bashkortostan on 17 November began considering the case of the nine-strong criminal group suspected of trafficking shipments of up to 100 kilograms of heroin from Afghanistan to Russia through Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, Bashinform reported the same day. The group, consisting of citizens of Tajikistan and residents of Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, and Chelyabinsk oblasts was arrested in 2003 carrying 25 kilograms of heroin, while the investigation was conducted under the authority of the Russian federal prosecutor's office.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi