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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 18, 2002

18 July 2002
Shaimiev Condemns Extremism, Chauvinism, Anti-Semitism...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said in an interview with Interfax on 17 July that authorities should nip in the bud any displays of extremism and ethnic intolerance within the framework of the law on counteracting extremism. "Cases of extremism, anti-Semitism, and nationalist rallies that became almost everyday, are the consequence of many years of inattention from authorities and legislative bodies toward this eternally smoldering problem," Shaimiev said. He stressed that extremist statements have been voiced in Russia for several years, including by well-known politicians and State Duma deputies. "It is extremely dangerous that ideas of chauvinism, anti-Semitism are absorbed by some young people, who unite under chauvinistic and nationalistic slogans," Shaimiev noted.

...Criticizes Regional Leaders For Calls To Expel Non-Russians...
Shaimiev pointed out in the same interview that displays of extremism have begun to emerge in the religious sphere, when interfaith tension was previously unknown in the country, even in the most difficult years. He described as unacceptable statements of an extremist nature that are often made by heads of some regions who call for the removal of "all non-Russians." Shaimiev said many central regions in Russia, including Tatarstan, accepted hundreds of thousands of migrants from the republics of Central Asia. "Those people sometimes act inappropriately but we should be patient enough to find a common language with them and live together in peace and harmony. I think we have to secure their rights and do everything we can to settle their life," Shaimiev stressed.

...And Says Tatarstan Promotes Interfaith Concord
Shaimiev pointed to Tatarstan's experience in resolving the problems of ethnic communities, saying that "alongside the construction of mosques, Orthodox churches have also been also restored" in the republic. "We for the first time in Russia returned synagogue and church buildings to believers at their request," Shaimiev said. He called on heads of the federation subjects to show patience and react attentively to appeals from representatives of various national-cultural communities in issues of maintaining their spiritual life, language, and culture.

Russian Ambassadors Promise To Lobby KamAZ Interests
"You can consider us your lobbyists. This is not only the directive from the president and the government of Russia but our own conviction as well," Eduard Shevtchenko, Russia's ambassador to Pakistan, told KamAZ heads visiting Chally on 17 July, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Shevtchenko, along with Ambassador to Brazil Vasilii Gromov, Ambassador to Columbia Vitalii Makarov, and Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Georgii Rudov, met with KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin, Chally Mayor Rashit Khamadeev, and KamAZ Deputy General Director Anatolii Samarenkin to negotiate the cooperation of Russia's embassies and trade missions with the truck concern while promoting its production in those countries' markets at the state level. Kogogin said exports totaled 32 percent of KamAZ's total production in the first six months of the year, and foreign orders the company currently has will significantly increase that rate by the end of the year.

Tatarstan's Economy Faces Troubles
Tatarstan's Deputy Economy and Industry Minister Sergei Mukhin told a briefing on 16 July that the first half of the year was the most difficult period for Tatarstan's industry since 1998, reported on 17 July. Production growth totaled 0.1 percent during the first six months, while during the same period the previous year it was 7.3 percent. Mukhin attributed the recession to the inability of heads of enterprises to adapt to the market situation. Industrial leaders questioned cited the lack of money for purchase of raw materials, low demand for production, and the indefinite economic situation among major factors that negatively affect production growth.

Communists Stage Meetings To Protest Housing-Municipal Policy
Some 200 persons took part on 17 July in a meeting near Gorky Park in Kazan organized by the Communist Party (KPRF) in Tatarstan to protest against the housing and municipal policy of the authorities. KPRF's local branch organized similar actions in 11 other cities in the republic. The Communists stated that the political course must be changed in order for housing issues be resolved, so the Russian government and the president and the government of Tatarstan should resign. Protestors called also for the dissolution of Tatarstan's State Council. They also protested the rise of municipal-services tariffs and the abolishment of privileges for the military, representatives of law enforcement bodies, military pensioners, and labor veterans. Protesters carried slogans such as "Chubais, switch off Putin and Kasyanov," "No to GREForms," and protested selling land to private owners.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Date Set For Congress Of Bashkortostan's Tatars
The organizing committee of the congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars decided at a meeting on 16 July to hold the first stage of the congress on 3 August, Bashinform reported the next day. The congress in Bashkortostan will be devoted to preparations for the third World Tatar Congress to be held in Kazan on 28-29 August, Rosbalt reported on 17 July. The meeting confirmed plans for the congress in Bashkortostan, instructions for the election of delegates, a draft emblem, and a congress budget. Financing for the event will be handled by various ministries, departments, and organizations that have an interest in the event, Bashinform reported.

The Bashkir government issued a resolution saying that the congress in Bashkortostan "is aimed at further strengthening interethnic concord and the social and cultural development of peoples."

District and municipal conferences will be held by 29 July to elect delegates to the third World Tatar Congress. In total, 512 delegates will be elected from the republic, which is one delegate for every 2,200 Tatar residents.

Swiss Embassy Denies Russian Media Reports
The Swiss embassy in Moscow has issued a communique denying accusations in the Russian media that Switzerland had not acted properly since the 1 July plane crash involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet over southern Germany, reported on 17 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002). A number of Russian media outlets have been critical of Switzerland for reportedly questioning the competence of the Russian pilots of the Bashkir Airlines jet immediately after the crash, as well as for the slow reaction by Swiss officials in the wake of the disaster. An embassy official said the purpose of the document is not to make excuses but to correct some misrepresentations of facts published by the Russian media. Several reports, for example, claimed that Switzerland did not send a message of condolences to Russia or Bashkortostan. The embassy communique, however, points out that Swiss President Kaspar Villiger issued two messages of condolences on the day of the crash, the first to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the second to the Bashkir government. Bashkir media outlets also criticized Villiger for not coming to the republic to take part in memorial services for the Bashkir victims of the crash, whereas other media reports have indicated that Villiger did not attend the ceremonies because he was warned not to do so by Russian officials (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12, 16 and 17 July 2002). The Swiss embassy added that Switzerland is still ready to send a high-level delegation to Bashkortostan as soon as Bashkir authorities consider it appropriate.

Bashkir Congress Leaders Visit Tatar-Populated Districts
Chairman of the World Bashkir Congress Executive Committee Akhmet Supeimanov and First Deputy Chairman Altaf Gaifullin visited northwestern districts of Bashkortostan to gather information on how preparations for the October national census are proceeding and to find out how the resolutions passed at the second World Bashkir Congress in June are being implemented, Bashinform reported on 17 July. The Bashkir leaders met with activists and congress delegates in the cities of Blagoveshchensk, Birsk, Neftekamsk, Yangawil, and Durtoile, as well as in Borai, Baltach, Teteshle, Kaltasinskii, and Kushnarenkovskii raions to inspect the teaching of Bashkir language and literature in schools and kindergartens.

Bashkortostan's northwestern districts are predominantly populated by Tatars, while Bashkir leaders have repeatedly claimed that the local residents are Bashkirs who have been assimilated by Tatars and that they need to be "enlightened" about their true origin in order to be registered in the October census as Bashkirs.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova