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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 29, 2002

29 March 2002
Russian Air Force Commander Brings 'Gift' On Visit To Kazan's Defense Industry
The chief commander of Russia's Air Force and anti-aircraft defense, Colonel General Vladimir Mikhailov, visited several Kazan defense industries on 28 March, including Kazan's Gorbunov Aircraft Plant KAPO, Kazan's KVZ helicopter plant, POZIS, OKB Soyuz, the Kazan motor plant KMPO, and Kazan's optical mechanical plant KOMZ, reported. Mikhailov said Kazan plays a leading role in the development of Russian aviation and that he would like to become personally acquainted with aviation production in Kazan. Mikhailov is the first Russian Air Force head to visit Kazan since 1988. Mikhailov also held a closed-door meeting the same day with President Mintimer Shaimiev. After the meeting Mikhailov thanked Shaimiev for his support of the defense industry, adding that Kazan's aviation enterprises are capable of upgrading older planes and creating new models for the future. Mikhailov said KAPO will receive an order for the repairs and modernization of 10-14 Tu-160 bombers that were produced at the plant in 1984-2000. Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Sergei Kogogin told reporters that the order exceeds tenfold the work the plant was given the previous year. Mikhailov, who assumed his post in January 2001, can fly some 20 different aircraft, the agency said.

Tatarstan To Form Independent Audit Chamber
An audit chamber will be created in Tatarstan according to the new version of the republican constitution, reported on 28 March. The agency quoted State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin as saying this independent control body is expected to play an important role in fighting corruption and other white-collar crimes. The body will be made up of representatives of all power branches, including the republic's president. Mukhametshin said it was agreed with the head of the Russian Audit Chamber, Sergei Stepashin, that Tatarstan's chamber will not be subordinate to the Russian one. Stepashin strongly opposes establishing a vertical power structure in this sphere, Mukhametshin said. The Parliamentary Control Committee and the control board of the presidential administration will likely be dissolved after the republican audit chamber is created, the agency said. Meanwhile, Deputy State Council Chairman Marat Magdeev, who chaired the Parliamentary Control Committee for the past two years, told "Respublika Tatarstan" on 28 March that not a single criminal case has been filed by republican prosecuting organizations on the basis of materials supplied by this committee. And, the paper reported, less than 20 million rubles of the total 332 million rubles that were embezzled in 2001 as uncovered by the committee were recovered and returned to the republican budget.

Roundtable On Ethnic, Interfaith Relations To Be Held
A roundtable on the "Ethnocultural and Religious Mosaic of the Volga Federal District; Prospects for the Development of Tolerant Relations," will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod on 29 March, reported. The minister without portfolio in charge of nationalities affairs, Vladimir Zorin, presidential envoy and former Russian Premier Sergei Kirienko, and Nizhnii Novgorod Muslim Religious Board Chairman Umar Idrisov are expected to attend.

Scholar Promotes United Turkic-Muslim Nation
Ethnology professor Damir Iskhakov wrote in "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 28 March that the conception of Russia's national policy -- which was devised by nationalities minister Zorin -- promotes the idea that national issues should be resolved in the future on the basis of confessional rather than ethnic principles. Iskhakov said Moscow ideologists consider national republics to a product of a Bolshevist/Communist experiment and believe they should be replaced with national-cultural autonomies. Republics in which titular nationalities constitute less than 50 percent of the population may become the first victims, he said, while others may face efforts to divide titular nations into smaller groups. Such a return to a "prerevolution model of national policy" may result in a certain success, the scholar said. Iskhakov concluded that as a result, Russia's Turkic-Muslim peoples may one day be deprived of their states. He called for a revival of the idea of a united Turkic-Muslim nation. He said politicians and intellectuals representing Russia's Turkic-Muslim community -- which in 50 years demographers say could be 40 percent of the population -- should recall that idea, which was developed many years ago by the famous Turkic leaders Ismail Gasprinskii and Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

New Body To Regulate Relations Between Authorities, Public
The Civic Council, headed by Federal Inspector Rustem Khamitov, has been established in Bashkortostan to foster good relations between authorities and the public, reported on 28 March. Members of non-profit organizations are represented in the body, which should make recommendations to authorities and outline development strategies in different sectors. The council is closed to religious and ethnic organizations and political parties, Federal Inspector to Bashkortostan Ivan Ognev told the agency.

Deputy Suggests Moscow Policies Encourage Secessionist Tendencies
State Assembly Deputy Zufar Yenikeev wrote in "Qizil tang" on 28 March that Russia has never implemented its treaties with Bashkortostan. He said Russia signed treaties when it needed them but then refused to honor them. The Federative Treaty was adopted at a difficult time for Russia, but it was dropped from the 1993 Russian Constitution; thus, the Federative Treaty was abolished within a year, Yenikeev said. If Russia does not change its policy regarding the republics, he asserted, the issue on secession from Russia will be put point-blank. The Baltic states initially did not make secession from the Soviet Union an issue but rather demanded economic freedoms, he said. Refusing such freedoms then resulted in the country's disintegration, Yenikeev said. He said the Baltic states included in their constitutions paragraphs to prohibit signing any treaties with Russia. He called on Bashkortostan residents to send telegrams to Russian President Vladimir Putin to protest efforts aimed at annulling power-sharing treaties.

Government Undergoes Presidential Reorganization
President Murtaza Rakhimov has decreed the establishment of a Ministry of Industry, Foreign Relations, and Trade, the presidential press service reported on 28 March. The new body is intended to replace the Foreign Relations and Trade Ministry and the State Industrial Policy Committee, which will be abolished on 1 April -- ostensibly to increase efficiency and cut expenses.

By another decree, Rakhimov transformed the Peoples' Education Ministry into Education Ministry, the press service said. The ministry takes responsibility over professional education, which previously was controlled by the State Committee on Science, Higher and Secondary Professional Education, which is also being abolished.

Muslim Cultural Treasures Suffering From Neglect, Says
Aging Muslim books, many of them unique, that are stored in five Ufa book depositories are threatened by poor storage conditions, reported on 27 March. Many of the 17,000 books in Arab and Old Tatar kept in the Bashkir National Library alone are affected by infestation, and their loss could spawn resentment within the Islamic community and thus extremism, the website said. quoted Gali Valiullin, the director of the Bashkortostan National Museum, as saying that a big portion of documents have not been read due to a lack of Arab specialists.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova