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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 27, 2003


27 August 2003
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
'Baptized Tatars' Union Seeks Independent Status For Its People...
The interregional Union of Kryashen (Baptized Tatar) ethnic-cultural organizations appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin in seeking a separate ethnic status from Tatars, Interfax reported on 25 August. The letter reportedly claims that "Tatarstan's nationalist and chauvinist forces have been and are resuming to create obstacles for the implementation of the Kryashen people's will by stating that Kryashens are baptized Tatars and their desire for self-determination is provoked by Moscow." The union has also asked for "intercession" by the patriarch of Russia's Orthodox Church, Aleksii II, referring to the "open appeals to Kryashens urging them to reject Orthodoxy and adopt Islam."

The statement seems to have the backing of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who's representative told Interfax that Kryashens "had never practiced Islam and adopted Orthodoxy to replace heathenism [at the same time as] the people of ancient Russia." Meanwhile, Tatar ethnology researchers consider that Kryashens, which is the Tatar translation of the word "Baptized," emerged as a result of both the forcible and economic conversion of Tatars from Islam to Orthodoxy in the 16th century after the conquest of the Kazan khanate by Russian troops.

Roman Silantiev, representative of the Moscow Oblast's Orthodox cleric, told Interfax in the same interview that the Russian Orthodox Church supports the Kryashens' aspiration to obtain the status of a separate people.

...As Kazan Kryashen Community Head Denies Knowledge About The Move...
In an interview with "Vremya i Dengi" published on 27 August, Gennadii Makarov, the head of the Kazan Kryashen community, said that he was not aware of the aforementioned appeal to Putin and "thought that the emergence of this document is explained by some underwater political streams on the eve of Republic Day celebrations [on 30 August] in Tatarstan."

However, he noted that the cultural needs of "Baptized Tatars" in the republic are not being satisfied in full. Makarov said, "we share the same roots with Tatars, but we have different cultural models."

...And Tatar Ethnic Leaders Explain It As Moscow's Will To Split Tatars
Reshit Yegeferov, chairman of the Tatar Public Center (TIU), commented on the issue by saying that "there is only a small group of people interested in exaggerating the problem" because, he said, Tatarstan's Kryashen community would not send such a message to the Russian president. He noted that Kreshens share "the same language with Tatars, while many people in the world combine different confessions, so we will resume our dialogue and hold a joint conference of Tatar and Kryashen organizations." Yunus Kamalutdinov, TIU's deputy chairman, also told "Vreamya i Dengi" that "it is odd to draw a dividing line [between Tatars and Kryashens]. Quite often Kryashens speak Tatar better than Tatars themselves. The policy of beefing up the issue comes from Moscow. They tend to practice wishful thinking."

Tatneft Begins Freezing Unprofitable Oil Wells
Tatneft's general director, Shafagat Takhautdinov, said that his company is shutting down 1,500 oil wells in Tatarstan which have not made a profit, the "Vremya i Dengi" daily wrote on 27 August. The wells represent about 7.5 percent of the total number of oil wells at Tatneft's disposal. Takhautdinov added that under the current turbulent oil market conditions and the fluctuating energy rates, some 30-50 percent of Tatneft's oil wells are considered unprofitable.

Kazan Aircraft Plant To Remain On The 'Survivors List' Of Russia's Air Industries
The Russian minister of industry, science and technologies, Ilya Klebanov, told Ekho Moskvy radio on 25 August that "in the most recent perspective only three aviation plants will [remain] engaged in civilian aircraft production." The list reportedly includes the aircraft plants in Voronezh, Ulyanovsk, and the KAPO imeni Gorbunova in Kazan. He said that since "it is very expensive to maintain numerous competing aircraft producers," by 2005 the Russian aircraft industry will be one or two holdings that include all of the Russian aircraft companies.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Russian Federation Council And State Duma Members Pledge Support For Polief Project
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with Vladimir Gusev, deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Economic Policy, Entrepreneurship, and Property Committee, and State Duma Deputy Nikolai Ryzhkov in Ufa on 25 August, to discuss a wide range of issues relating to Bashkortostan's economy, the presidential press service reported the next day. The discussion reportedly focused on the current situation at the Polief chemical plant, which plans a major sell-off of its shares to attract "serious investments." Ryzhkov told the Bashkir president that they have noticed significant improvements at the plant, "which is able to bring billions of rubles in profits to the country's economy." He said that "we are glad that the republic is investing enormous funds into the plant's construction but the republic will not be able to cope with such a project alone." Ryzhkov and Gusev pledged their support for obtaining extra investment in the project.

Russian Agriculture Minister Greets Bashkortostan With First Million Tons Of Grain
Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev greeted President Rakhimov and Bashkortostan's farmers with having produced the first million tons of grain this year, RosBalt reported on 26 August. According to the agency, farms in the republic have already gathered 1.4 million tons of grain after harvesting 46 percent of arable land. In 2002, Bashkortostan produced 4.3 million tons of grain.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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