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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 17, 2003

17 June 2003
Shaimiev Stresses Importance Of Culture...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 16 June that the development of culture in the CIS countries is an urgent necessity as the entire world has begun thinking about spiritual values, reported the same day. Shaimiev's comments came on the eve of the Russian State Council meeting held by Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg the same day. Shaimiev said that "we cannot wait for all the financial difficulties to end." The previous day, Shaimiev attended a reception for heads of federation subjects held in St. Petersburg aboard a motor boat belonging to a Kazan businessman.

...Expresses Sorrow Over Obstacles To Papal Visit To Kazan
In an interview with Interfax on 16 June, President Shaimiev said he regrets that the proposed visit of Pope John Paul II to Russia is facing some difficulties. "Some people in Russia do not wish the pope to visit Russia and Kazan," Shaimiev said. The pope personally suggested that he bring the holy Mother of God icon back to Kazan, but some forces in Russia had resisted this, Shaimiev said, adding that he regretted this. "It will be necessary to begin a dialogue between the [Orthodox and Catholic] churches one day, and why should it be postponed? Ripe problems are resolved the sooner the better," Shaimiev said. The Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly opposed a visit of the pope to Russia until disagreements between the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchy are resolved.

Russian Constitutional Court To Consider Tatar, Bashkir Appeal
The Russian Constitutional Court is to begin on 17 June a hearing on appeals by the Tatar State Council, the Tatar Supreme Court, and the Bashkir State Assembly to check if provisions of the Russian Civil Judicial Procedure Code and the federal law on the prosecutors' office are in line with the Russian Constitution, reported on 16 June. The applicants insisted that the Russian Supreme Court ignore numerous resolutions of the Russian Constitutional Court prohibiting courts of general jurisdiction to judge if constitutions or charters of federation subjects are in line with federal legislation. Tatar Supreme Court judge Roman Gafarov, who, on 11 March, halted the hearing on the appeal by Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev against 19 articles of the Tatar Constitution, will attend the court session.

Tatneft Issues Bonds Worth 1.5 Billion Rubles
The Federal Commission on Securities registered the issuance of 1.5 billion rubles ($49 million) worth of Tatneft bonds, Tatar-inform reported on 16 June. The bonds will be distributed at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange and are to be repaid within three years. The Zenit Bank and the investment-finance company Solid are the underwriters of the loan. The Tatneft oil company seeks to reduce its credit debt, which totaled $800 million by 1 January 2003, the report said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Interior Ministry Accuses Mezhprombank Branch Of Fraud
A search of the Ufa branch of Mezhprombank carried out on 11 June by the Bashkir Interior Ministry (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 June 2003) was part of an investigation into a large-scale fraud case, the ministry's press service head Ruslan Sherefetdinov told RosBalt on 16 June. Sherefetdinov said the search and the confiscation of documents in the bank "have no relation to politics." He added that the investigation concerned promissory notes that were not accepted for payment. Branch director Yevgenii Vanok has said that the search is linked to Sergei Veremeenko, Mezhprombank's former head who intends to run for the Bashkir presidency. According to "Kommersant" on 16 June, Vanok said that the confiscation of documents was in violation of the law and that he will appeal to the republic's courts and the Bashkir prosecutors' office.

Ufa Authorities Regulate Activities Of Computer Clubs
The Ufa administration has issued a resolution to regulate the activities of computer clubs in the city, RosBalt reported on 16 June. The resolution stipulates that clubs improve sanitary and hygienic conditions and fire safety. The clubs, according to the resolution, must have telephone lines, heating and ventilation devices, running water, and be connected to the water and sewage networks. The administration also demanded that the clubs uphold moral standards, which would outlaw pornographic games and sites. The document also prohibits children and teenagers from staying in clubs after 9.00 p.m., while adults can use them until 11.00 p.m. There are some 95 computer clubs in Ufa, according to the report.

Ufa, Kazan, Samara Airports To Cooperate
The heads of the Ufa, Kazan, and Samara airports have signed a cooperation agreement, Bashinform reported on 16 June. The commercial director of the Ufa International Airport, Tahir Mokhemmetshin, said the move is intended to streamline goods transportation and to establish an optimum schedule for cargo and passenger flights.

BTK Leader Comments On Persecutions Against Tatar Organizations In Bashkortostan
The deputy chairman of the Tatar World Congress (BTK) Executive Committee, ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 16 June that growing pressure against Tatar public organizations in Bashkortostan will result in them going underground. That would be harmful for the republic's leadership, he said. Iskhaqov commented on the recent search of the office of the Azatliq Tatar Youth Union (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 June 2003). Iskhaqov also said the Tatar National Front (TMF), established in Bashkortostan on 1 June, is a legitimate organization as it was formed by elected delegates who represent Bashkortostan's raions. He denied attempts by TMF opponents to interpret the "front" concept as calling for armed struggle, saying that it has only political, not military meaning. Iskhaqov said that promoting the status of the Tatar language and preventing the misrepresentation of the October census results are major tasks for Bashkortostan's Tatar civic organizations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova