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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 1, 2002

1 August 2002
Tatar Congress Leader Backs Shaimiev Proposal To Integrate Tatar National Movement
Commenting on President Mintimer Shaimiev's 30 July meeting with leaders of Tatar civic and political organizations (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 31 July 2002), chief executive of the World Tatar Congress Indus Tahirov told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau the next day that he praised the event, "because since the state is in dialogue with public organizations it means that civil society is coming into existence." Tahirov emphasized that the meeting "didn't discuss any matters of emergency but was an event which is to be made regular."

Tahirov said Shaimiev asked the leaders of the Tatar Public Center (TIU), Tatar People's Front (THF), and Idel-Ural integration movement (IUH) whether it was possible for them to work within the TIU rather than separately. The Tatar Congress leader backed the president's proposal, while the other organizations' leaders have yet to react to the offer. Shaimiev also asked whether it was possible for the Tahirov's Tatar Congress to take these Tatar organizations under its patronage, but Tahirov reportedly told the president that it was important that they remain independent organizations, being able to cooperate with the congress in some definite lines of work.

TIU leader Rashit Yagafarov is also a full member of the World Tatar Congress Executive Committee. However in his recent statements he appealed to Tahirov that his organization is being denied access to the congress' funds and office and transport facilities.

Agriculture Minister Says Moscow Has To Stop Buying Grain From The West
Speaking on Tatarstan State Radio's "Yanga Koen" program live on 31 July, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Marat Akhmetov answered the numerous questions of listeners regarding the low wages of the farm workers by saying that that the poor state of agriculture in Russia is due to the federal government's policies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. He said that in the last decade the federal government annually imported grain from the West instead of relying on its domestic producers, thereby causing the slump of grain prices and low incomes of farms in Russia.

Growing Divorce Figures Throw Shadow Over Tatar Baby Boom
The "Respublika Tatarstan" daily on 31 July wrote that 18,869 babies were born in the republic during the first half of 2002, which is 1,146 more than in the first half of the previous year. Meanwhile, the number of divorces has risen by 57 percent compared to the previous year's statistics and reached 10,714 within the first 6 months of this year. During the same period, the mortality rate grew by 5.3 percent with 26,069 deaths, thus causing the total population to decrease by 7,200.

Minnikhanov Visits Turkey For Oil Talks
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov visited Turkey on 31 July for talks on the possibility of Tatarstan exporting oil to that country, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. The republic's Tatneft oil company owns the Kremenshug oil refinery in Ukraine and Minnikhanov told Turkish officials that Tatarstan is ready to launch oil supplies from this location. During his visit Minnikhanov met State Minister Yilmaz Karakoyunlu, Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Zeki Chakan, and managers of the TUPRAS oil-refining consortium.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Commission Established To Help Settle Claims Of Crash Victims' Families
The Russian government has established an interdepartmental commission to assist in resolving possible claims in foreign courts stemming from the 1 July air crash involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany, RIA-Novosti reported on 31 July, citing the government's information department. The vast majority of the 71 victims of the mid-air crash were citizens of the Russian Federation and residents of Bashkortostan.

The commission is intended to work closely with foreign agencies in determining the circumstances that led to the crash, as well as in considering claims. The issue of determining compensation will be considered once the investigation is completed and the cause of the accident has been determined.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov was selected to head up the commission, which will involve officials from the Russian Finance, Labor, and Justice ministries.

Leader Of Unified Russia Supports Republic And Leader...
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with the chairman of the General Council of the Unified Russia party, Aleksandr Bespalov, in Ufa on 31 July, Bashinform reported the same day.

During their meeting with party members in the republic, Bespalov praised Rakhimov as an independent leader, saying that he raises important questions that federal officials have to answer, adding that "There are not very many leaders like this in Russia."

Bespalov also said the four-year presidential term in Russia is too short and that in such a large country, a president can achieve results only during a 12-year period. He added that the president should have the right to dismiss elected regional leaders who do not perform their duties properly.

The head of Unified Russia also said that the treaty between Moscow and Ufa "has a right to live [since it fixes in law] historically established relations," adding that regions should not be deprived of their powers and should be given at least some independence, especially so-called "donor regions."

...As President Comments On Russia's Party System, Strengths Of Republic
Commenting on the establishment of a multiparty system in Russia, Rakhimov spoke out against attempts to create nationality-based parties and against the use of what he called the "Muslim factor" in political struggles.

The president added that the fact that Bashkortostan has many nations and religious faiths that live together peacefully is a great advantage for the republic, as well as a basis for its further development.

Rakhimov Makes Ministerial Appointment
President Rakhimov appointed Boris Kolbin, 53, Bashkortostan's minister of industry, foreign relations, and trade on 31 July, the presidential press service reported the same day. Kolbin was previously the head of the State Tax Inspectorate in Ufa's Ordzhonikidzevskii Raion. From 1986 to 1991, Kolbin served as deputy finance minister of the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova