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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 12, 2002

12 August 2002
Minister Hints At Defense Contracts For Republic
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov attended a demonstration of equipment being used in the ongoing Caspian Sea military exercises at the Makhachkala port on 10 August, reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 August 2002). The two officials also attended a memorial service for the victims of a mine blast in the Daghestani city of Kaspiisk on 9 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2002). The majority of those who were killed in the explosion were sailors from the Caspian Sea Fleet.

The same day, Shaimiev, Ivanov, and Daghestani State Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov visited the ship "Tatarstan" and met with its crew. Ivanov thanked the Tatar president for his personal supervision of the construction of the "Tatarstan," the flagship of the Caspian Fleet, and for the support he has provided in re-equipping the fleet. Ivanov said the "Tatarstan" is a "very modern ship equipped with the latest technology."

Ivanov also told journalists that the Zelenodolskii Sudostroitelnyi Zavod (Yeshel Uzen Shipbuilding Plant) has won a tender to construct patrol ships for the fleet, adding that Tatarstan can expect to receive more orders from the Defense Ministry. Shaimiev responded that if called upon, Tatarstan is ready to produce the required equipment for the country's defense.

Ak Bars Signs Credit Deal With Spanish Bank
Tatarstan's Ak Bars Bank signed a framework agreement with Spain's largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentina, in accordance with which the Spanish bank will provide 25 million euros ($24.24 million) to finance projects under which Ak Bars clients will import goods and services from Spain, Tatar-inform reported on 9 August. All of the contracts under the agreement have been approved by Spain's state-export credit agency, CESCE.

Kazan Signs Partnership Agreement With Latvian Resort
The city administration of Kazan signed a partnership-and-cooperation agreement with the Latvian health resort of Yurmala at a conference on the Greater Volga Route in Riga on 10 August, reported the same day.

At the conference, Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov and St. Petersburg Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Vladimir Churov opened exhibitions dedicated to Kazan's millennium and St. Petersburg's 300th anniversaries.

Tatarstan Opens Trade Mission In Mordovia
Tatarstan has opened a trade and economic-relations office in Mordovia, reported on 10 August. Mordovia is Tatarstan's 34th-largest trade partner in terms of turnover. The decision to open the office was made during a meeting between Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov and a delegation from Mordovia headed by Deputy Foreign Economic-Relations Minister Aleksandr Tekunov.

The office is intended to improve trade and economic relations between the two regions, to assist enterprises and organizations establish direct ties, and to develop scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation.

During the past year, Tatarstan also opened trade and economic-relations offices in Saratov and Nizhnii Novgorod oblasts, as well as a trade center in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Plans are reportedly under way to open such offices in other subjects of the Russian Federation.

Tatar City Ranked One Of Russia's Best For Amenities
The Tatar city of Bogelme has been rated the third-best city in Russia in terms of amenities for cities with fewer than 100,000 people, reported on 10 August. The Tatar city finished behind Balashov of Saratov Oblast and Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast, which were rated first and second, respectively. Bogelme was granted 2.5 million rubles ($80,000), which will be spent on improvements to the city's amenities and for planting trees. More than 500 Russian cities were considered in the competition.

Tatar Daily Opposes Election Of Bashkir President As Congress Delegate
In a "Vechernyaya Kazan" report on 6 August, the daily said that the election of delegates from Bashkortostan to the third World Tatar Congress (BTK) "is threatening to turn into a farce that will call into question the legitimacy of the BTK." The delegates elected at the 3 August congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars include Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, Bashkir Interior Minister Rafael Divaev, Bashkir Finance Minister Airat Gaskarov, as well as several other republican officials. The paper commented that each of the elected Bashkir delegates could be an honorary guest at the congress, but they cannot be delegates, since the congress charter allows only for the election of ethnic Tatars as delegates. The report continued, saying that by following such logic, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and Volga Federal District presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko could also be delegates to the Tatar congress.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Turkish Citizens Accused Of Spreading Radical Islam In Republic
On 9 August, Bashkir law-enforcement bodies issued a warrant seeking the deportation of three Turkish citizens from the Russian Federation for "violations of Russian law regarding the status of foreign citizens and for actions contrary to Russia's national interests," "Izvestiya" and Bashinform reported the same day.

The reports said that Caliskan Seydi and two associates, who were not named, were followers of the radical Suleymanji and Nurdjular Islamic sects, which are banned in Turkey. Seydi began his activities in Oktyabrskii in 1998 where he acquired a building from the city administration at no charge in order to set up a boarding school, which opened in September 2001. The three men reportedly forced the teaching of radical Islam on the residents of the Yakti Yul (Bright Way) boarding school, though they had not had any pedagogical education. The reports also claimed that the men were able to reduce expenses at the school by withholding medical care from the children living there and by cutting off the heating supply in winter.

The branch of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, in Bashkortostan, told "Izvestiya" on 9 August that the schoolchildren, who came mostly from Oktyabrskii's orphanages and from poor families, suffered from malnutrition. The FSB spokesperson added that the only type of literature allowed at the school was of the extremist Islamic variety.

While running the school in Oktyabrskii, Seydi was also reportedly involved in fundraising and business activities in the Bashkir capital Ufa, as well as in Moscow and neighboring Tatarstan.

The Turkish Embassy in Moscow refused to comment on the case, while the director of the Turkish school in Ufa said that the boarding school in question could not be called Turkish "because all our schools are secular and have no place for religious or extremist ideas."

Chemical-Waste Facility Showing High Levels Of Radiation
The level of nuclear radiation around the Kama-1 facility of the Salavatnefteorgsintez petrochemical plant in Sterlitamaq is 40-50 times higher than what is deemed to be safe, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 9 August. Experts from Russia's atomic-energy monitoring agency, GosAtomEnergoNadzor, have not yet been able to determine why the ground around the plant, which treats waste from the chemicals industry, is exhibiting such high levels of radiation. The report added that the plant was built with the aid of controlled underground nuclear explosions in 1973, as were similar facilities such as the Kama-2 plant in Sterlitamaq and the Butan plant in Ishimbay.

Soldier From Bashkortostan Killed In Combat In Chechnya
Ilnur Batirov, a Russian Army soldier from Bashkortostan, was among the eight Russian border guards killed during fighting on 8 August on Chechen territory near the Russian-Georgian border, RIA-Novosti reported the next day. Batirov will be buried in the Buzdyak region of Bashkortostan, the republic's chief military commissioner, Timofei Azarov, told RIA-Novosti on 9 August.

President Says Educational Programs Should Depend On Labor Market
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov told a conference of educators in the Baymak region of Bashkortostan on 10 August that local universities should take into consideration the situation in labor markets when formulating their programs. Rakhimov said that while the republic has an abundance of economists and lawyers, there is a shortage of state-employed doctors and teachers. The Bashkir president did not mention, however, that the latter two professions are currently among the lowest-paying in Russia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi