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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 29, 2002

29 May 2002
Latin-Script Experiment Proves Effective In Tatarstan Schools
The Tatarstan Education Ministry held a seminar yesterday to discuss the results of its pilot program on usage of the Latin-based Tatar script in the coursework of some 2,000 students in 55 schools throughout the republic, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The program was launched in September 2001 after Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said the transition to Latin-based script from the current Cyrillic-based script should not be rushed and that it was necessary to resume the program of teaching the Latin script in schools.

According to Education Ministry officials at the seminar, students in junior and senior high schools quickly mastered the Latin script and demonstrated a growing interest in their lessons in general. Officials at the seminar also said it was necessary to use modern technology to improve the teaching of the Tatar language.

State Institutions Among Tatenergo's Major Debtors
RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today that a Tatenergo spokesperson said yesterday that heat and electricity consumers in Tatarstan increased their debt to the republic's energy producer by 22 percent during the first quarter of 2002. Customers currently owe the company 2.29 billion rubles ($73.87 million). Tatarstan's state-owned enterprises, hospitals, schools, and preschools have reportedly managed to pay for only 4 percent of their heating and electricity bills this year, while individuals have paid for 71 percent of the energy they consumed in the first three months of the year.

In order to fill the gap between the payments owed by energy consumers in Tatarstan and debts owed by Tatenergo to Gazprom in 2001, the republic's energy supplier took out a 554 million-ruble ($17.87 million) loan to pay for gas supplies from Gazprom. After being privatized in early April, however, Tatenergo is unlikely to take on additional risks by taking out another loan to compensate for the debts of its customers again this year.

Prosecutor Expects New Criminal Code To Cause 'Problems'
Tatarstan's chief prosecutor Kafil Amirov told Efir television in Kazan yesterday that the new Russian Criminal Code, which is to enter into force on 1 July "is a revolutionary document that gives more rights to [those] accused [of a crime], but it could also create bureaucratic problems for law-enforcement bodies, which could result in some cases being thrown out by the courts due to a lack of evidence." He added that new procedures requiring investigators to ask for arrest warrants from local judges could cause "problems because they have followed different procedures for 40 years."

Rector Says Preparations For University Anniversary Underfunded
At a meeting yesterday of the organizing committee for Kazan State University's 200th anniversary, which is to be celebrated in 2004, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported that university rector Myakzyum Salakhov said the university has received from the federal budget so far only 2 percent of the expected 2.6 billion rubles ($83.87 million) needed for general repairs to the university's buildings and laboratories.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

President Discusses Goals Of Constitutional Assembly
In an interview in "Respublika Bashkortostan" daily yesterday, Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov said the republic's Constitutional Assembly has been called for 30 May "to analyze proposals [regarding the Bashkortostan Constitution] from legislators, legal experts, experts in the social sciences, and citizens of the republic, and to choose the best of [those proposals] for the new draft Bashkortostan Constitution." Rakhimov noted that future amendments to the republic's fundamental law "are to be discussed with the federal center, because the harmonization of federal and regional legislation is a two-way street."

Rakhimov said the current situation of frequent protests by the federal government regarding contradictions between the Bashkortostan Constitution and the Russian Constitution is "critical, because if we start correcting Bashkortostan's fundamental law in accordance with the sometimes-contradictory claims of federal bodies�then the stability and efficiency of [Bashkortostan's] legal system will be undermined," (See "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 May 2002)

Islamic Leader Accuses Tatarstan's Muslims Of Promoting Extremism
In an interview with Russia's "Gazeta" daily yesterday, Talgat Tajuddin, the Ufa-based chairman of Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board, claimed that some "international Islamic centers have millions of dollars [that they are using] to create Islamic structures in Russia" to promote the radical Wahhabi stream of Islam in the country. Tajuddin claimed that Wahhabism is "being spread in an almost open manner in Tatarstan." As an example, he cited the Bolgar mosque in Kazan, which was "stormed by dozens of extremists shouting out 'Allah akbar' [Allah is Great'] on 2 October 2001."

Tajuddin's statement could be linked to the fact that one of his close supporters, Ferit Salman, who is the former head of the Bolgar mosque, was removed from his position by the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board in 2000 for opposing the board and urging it to submit to Tajuddin's central Muslim board. In interviews with the Russian press, Salman has also accused the Tatarstan Muslim Board of having ties with foreign, extremist Muslim organizations.

Bashkirenergo Announces Profits Increase In 2001
Bashkirenergo held a general shareholders meeting yesterday to discuss the energy company's performance in 2001, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. It was reported at the meeting that the company earned 1.4 billion rubles ($45.16 million) in profits last year, an increase of 62.5 percent over the previous year. The increase in profits was linked to the launching of two new hydroelectric power plants and another wind-powered plant.

The meeting also elected Ampir Sirtlanov, acting general director of the Bashneft oil company, as chairman of Bashkirenergo's board of directors.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi