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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 8, 2002

8 August 2002
Shaimiev To Take Part In Naval Exercises In Caspian Sea
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev is to leave on 8 August for the Caspian Sea where he will review naval exercises on board the flagship of the Caspian Fleet, the "Tatarstan," which was constructed in Yeshel Uzen, reported on 7 August, citing the presidential press service (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 July 2002). The Russian military will be carrying out exercises involving 10,000 servicemen, 60 ships, and 30 warplanes until 15 August.

Paper Comments On Tensions Between Moscow, Kazan
The Russian weekly "Argumenty i fakty" ran a comment on 7 August about a brewing battle between Kazan and Moscow. The paper said that relations between the federal government and Tatarstan have been aggravated mainly by Moscow's desire to abandon its 1994 power-sharing treaty with the republic. Its reasoning, the paper said, is based largely on its disagreement with provisions in the treaty regarding Tatar sovereignty and citizenship. The head of the Tatar legislature, Farid Mukhametshin, went to Moscow to try to resolve the debate, but was unable to alter Moscow's position, essentially slamming the door on the issue, the paper wrote.

The paper commented that the current hostility is similar to the tensions that existed between Moscow and Kazan in 1993. While under pressure from separatists, the Tatar government in 1993 refused to hold elections to the Federation Council or the State Duma, and also refused to let its residents vote in a referendum on the adoption of the Russian Constitution. Federal authorities even considered solving the issue militarily, the paper wrote, adding that the sides in the current dispute have likely accepted that a confrontation is inevitable.

As evidence of an impending confrontation, the paper pointed out that President Shaimiev recently held a meeting with Tatar nationalists from the Tatar Public Center and that people in the republic are not happy with a recent court decision ruling that Muslim women are not permitted to cover their faces in their passport photographs (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 August 2002). The paper then hinted that the republic's 1.5 million Russians could find themselves under some pressure in the near future.

For its part, federal authorities are putting pressure on Tatarstan through a planned "oil-quality bank," an idea that Tatarstan has vigorously opposed, the paper wrote. The Russian State Duma is preparing a draft law on the bank that calls for a prohibition on using Russian pipelines to export oil that is high in sulphur, which is exactly the type of oil that is produced in Tatarstan.

KamAZ Appoints Senior Managers
KamAZ general director Sergei Kogogin appointed as his deputies on 1 August Pavel Poltirykhin, Viktor Faber, Ildar Khalikov, Anatolii Samarenkin, Ilshat Khaziev, and Irek Gumerov, reported on 7 August. All six men had been serving as Kogogin's acting deputies. Kogogin also appointed a new deputy in charge of car production, Vasil Kayumov, general director of the Zavod Mikrolitrazhnykh Avomobilei (Compact-Vehicles Plant). Danis Valeev and Anton Trayanov remain Kogogin's acting deputies.

TV Directors Present Development Plans
The heads of Tatarstan's two television companies, Ilshat Aminov of the Television and Radio Company Novyi Vek (TRK Novyi Vek) and Irek Murtazin of the State Tevelvision and Radio Company of Tatarstan (GTRK Tatarstan), held a joint briefing on 7 August to outline their companies' development plans, reported the same day.

TRK Novyi Vek was established in 2001 as an independent channel. Its programs are seen in 90 percent of Tatarstan, as well as in the European part of Russia. Aminov said the station plans to increase its broadcasts to 12 hours per day in September and to 24 hours a day by 2003.

GTRK Tatarstan is in the process of joining Russia's VGTRK holding, which should be completed by 2003, the company's director said. The station plans to continue its television broadcasts of 2 1/2 hours per day and radio broadcasts of 3 1/2 hours per day. The company also intends, however, to reduce its staff from 652 employees to 250.

GTRK Tatarstan and TRK Novyi Vek have budgets of 65 million rubles ($2.06 million) and 40 million rubles ($1.27 million), respectively.

Clergy Asked To Preach On Fire Prevention
The Tatar State Fire Service and the republic's Orthodox and Muslim clergy signed a cooperation agreement in Kazan in 6 August in accordance with which clergy members will discuss the dangers of fire during their services, "Izvestiya" reported on 7 August. The State Fire Service, in its turn, agreed to install smoke detectors and fire alarms in churches and mosques. Meanwhile, the Raifa monastery near Kazan established its own team of fire-fighting monks two years ago, and Tatar Interior Minister Asgat Safarov gave the monastery a fire truck. The monks also provide fire-fighting services for the monastery's neighboring villages.

The daily also said that Tatarstan's Traffic Police recently asked Muslim priests to preach to their congregations about traffic safety.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Rights Movement Organizations Prepare For The Alternative Congress
Elfir Sakaev, chairman of the committee preparing an alternative congress for Bashkortostan's Tatars (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 August 2002), told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 7 August that the event called Tatar Public Organizations Congress in Bashkortostan "will be held on 10 August at any cost." He added that the congress delegates are being elected in the republic's regions.

The 10 August event is to discuss the current situation of Tatars' rights in Bashkortostan, preparations for the October 2002 census, and electing delegates for the third World Tatar Congress. Sakaev said that the alternative Tatar congress is sponsored by the Bashkortostan branches of the Tatar Public Center (TIU), National Assembly (Milli Mejlis) organizations, the Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy in Bashkortostan, Ufa Tatar Culture Center, Miras, Aq Qalfaq, and the Azatliq Tatar Youth Union.

Sakaev noted with regret that during the 2 August Tatar forum "the Bashkir government's pocket organization of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan distributed the seats of delegates for the third World Tatar Congress among pro-[Bashkir President Murtaza] Rakhimov figures."

Registration Suit Won By Tatar Culture Center's Fate Still Uncertain
The Ufa-based Tatar Culture Center won its lawsuit demanding it be registered against the Bashkir branch of the Russian Justice Ministry in Ufa's Oktyabrskii district court on 7 August, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 8 August. The Justice Ministry branch stated its intention to appeal against the court ruling. The Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy in Bashkortostan is another Tatar public organization seeking official registration in the republic by taking the local office of the federal Justice Ministry to court.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi