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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 4, 2002

4 February 2002
Iskhakov Re-Elected Tatarstan Mufti
The second congress of Tatarstan's Muslims on 2 February unanimously re-elected Mufti Gusman Iskhakov to chair the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board, reported. The 625 delegates discussed the spread of extremism and Wahhabism in Islam and concluded that training clergymen in Russia and publicizing peaceful Islam are the main ways to prevent the radicalization of the Muslim community. The congress appealed to the State Duma to introduce tax breaks for Muslim property funds.

In her greeting telegram to the congress, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko said she believes that the congress's decision will continue the process of positive changes in the activity of the Muslim Board in the past years, will contribute to strengthening the unity of the country's Muslim community and interfaith dialogue, and will repulse real and invented extremism.

Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev and Presidential envoy to the Volga district Sergei Kirienko also addressed their greetings to congress participants. Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia; Magomet Albogachev, the chairman of the North Caucasus Muslims Coordinating Center and Ingushetia's mufti; Akhmed Shamaev, the mufti of Chechnya; Mukaddas Bibarsov, the mufti of Saratov; as well as delegations of Muslims from Bashkortostan and other regions were in attendance.

Envoy Says Volga District Has Unique Experience Of Interfaith Cooperation
Presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko told ORT on 31 January that the difference between Russia and Europe lays in the fact that Muslims are called in Russia "we" rather than "they," "foreigners." He said Muslims and Orthodox believers have lived together for 300 years in the district without any military conflicts. He said Russia could share its experience of joint, mutually respectful development of different faiths, and the world should study it.

Pardon Commission Formed In Tatarstan
President Shaimiev has issued a decree establishing a republic-level pardon commission, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 2 February. Such a commission functioned in the republic from 1994 preparing pardon proposals for Shaimiev, but last year the Russian Supreme Court protested the right of Tatarstan's president to pardon those sentenced to capital punishment. The new local commission was formed on the grounds of the decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin passing on his pardon commission to territorial entities.

Tatneft Signs $500,000 Contract With Iran
Tatneft Deputy General Manager Khamit Kaveev told ITAR-TASS on 2 February that his company has signed a $500,000 contract with the Iranian South Oil Company to reconstruct oil wells. A new technology developed by Tatarstan scholars allows to increase oil production by a quarter, Kaveev said.

Gazprom Increases Quota For Tatarstan
Gazprom board Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov visited Tatarstan on 30-31 January, reported. Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Farid Tuktarov told reporters on 1 February that the sides agreed on the increase of the volume of gas to be delivered to Tatarstan from an initial 11.6 billion cubic meters to 14.3 billion cubic meters. Tuktarov said it was agreed that Gazprom will take part in a project on polyethylene production at Kazanorgsintez and will provide Nizhnekamskshina, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, and Tuben Kama Oil Refinery (NNPZ) with fuel. Negotiators held preparations for the signing a cooperation agreement between Tatarstan and Gazprom scheduled for mid-February when Gazprom head Aleksei Miller is due to visit the republic.

Economist Says Governors Should Actively Demand Budget Redistribution
Yevgenii Yasin, the head of the Higher School of Economics, told on 1 February that the current distribution of budget revenues between Moscow and territorial entities as 70 to 30 percent is "warped" in favor of the federal authority. Yasin stressed that governors, together with cities and local self-governance heads, should jointly demand the proportion to be changed back in the regions' favor. In other comments, Yasin said Tatar President Shaimiev is "a very wise leader" and one of the best governors, adding he "thinks with horror" about who will succeed him.

Ural Airlines Buys Kazan-Produced Plane
The Ural Airlines plans to purchase the Kazan-produced Tu-214 aircraft in 2002, the company general manager Sergei Skuratov told UralInformBureau on 1 February. The plane is able to perform 9,000-kilometer flights nonstop, Skuratov said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Promotes Interests Of Fuel-Energy Sector, Political, Legal Issues...
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on 30 January in Moscow met with LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov to discuss bilateral cooperation and deliveries of fuel to Bashkir companies. Rakhimov also met with Aleksandr Bespalov, the leader of the central political council of the all-Russia party Unity and Fatherland, to negotiate prospects of party construction. At a meeting with Aleksandr Yakubov, Bashkortostan's representative to the Federation Council, the two discussed strengthening ties between Bashkortostan's State Assembly and the upper chamber of the Russian legislature.

...And Nuclear Station Construction
Rakhimov met on 1 February with Russian Federal Energy Commission head Georgii Kutovoy and Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Bulat Nigmatullin to discuss prospects for unfreezing the construction of the Bashkir Nuclear Power Station, Bashinform reported. The participants stressed that the launching of the station will solve the energy deficit not only in the Ural regions but in central Russia as well. The project meets environmental and safety requirements, they said.

Ufa Praised For Cooperation With National-Cultural Associations
Bashkortostan's experience in the cooperation between state bodies and national-cultural associations enjoyed approval at a meeting of the Russian Peoples Assembly presidium in Moscow, Bashinform reported on 1 February. Russia's minister without portfolio in charge of nationality issues, Vladimir Zorin, and Assembly Council Chairman Ramazan Abdulatipov addressed the meeting. Representatives of the assembly's 76 departments in attendance appealed to the Russian president to discuss the main directions of state nationality policy at one of the next meetings of the Russian State Council.

Journalists Form Council On Professional Ethics
Bashkortostan's Journalists Union established a council for professional ethics uniting journalists, publishers, and lawyers, Bashinform reported on 1 February. Rafael Zinnurov, assistant to Bashkortostan's Prosecutor-General, was elected the council's chairman.

Turkmens Establish National-Cultural Center
A Turkmen Public Cultural Center was registered in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 1 February. The organization aims to preserve Turkmen national culture, language, and history. Businessmen Saparmurat Shangliev was elected to head the center.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova