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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 19, 2002

19 August 2002
Kazan TV Accuses Education Minister Of Conflict Of Interest
Kazan's Efir television accused Tatar Education Minister Faris Kharisov on 18 August of abuse of power in connection with the publication of Tatar-language schoolbooks published in Kazan and Moscow. The station claimed that Kharisov and several members of his family were the authors of the majority of Tatar-language books used by students both inside and outside Tatarstan and that republican budgetary funds were used to pay for the publication of the books. As evidence, Efir showed at least 10 different books written by authors with the surname Kharisov, but with different initials. The station claimed that this was a conflict between the minister's official duties and private interests. Efir added that the Finance Ministry recently suspended funding for repairs to schools throughout the republic because violations were discovered in the way the Education Ministry conducted the tender for the project.

Tatenergo Official Warns Of Possible Heating Problems
Yurii Shelokov, chief engineer of the Tatenergo power company, said that the heating networks in Chally and Kazan are the most likely to break down in the coming winter, Efir television reported on 18 August. Shelokov added that all of Tatenergo's heating networks need to be repaired or replaced, but that the company hasn't yet had a chance to do this, since it only obtained the networks in 2001. He also pointed out that the company is currently supplying more energy than customers are paying for. In addition, Shelokov noted that bankrupt enterprises in Kazan and Chally that have not properly maintained their heating lines present a danger to other buildings connected to those lines.

Republic Adopts Program To Promote Patriotism
Tatar Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs, Tourism, and Sport Igor Saveliev announced that the republic has adopted a program to promote patriotism among youth, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 August. The program is to last until 2006 and will include a number of public events that "promote morals and a positive attitude toward the motherland." The Tatar budget has allocated 50 million rubles ($1.59 million) for the program.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Official Paper Alleges Violation Of Bashkir Children's Rights...
An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 18 August quoted the 14 August issue of "Bashkortostan" newspaper as reporting that the Tatar language is taught to both Tatar and Bashkir schoolchildren in Tuymazi, Bashkortostan, "against their will." However, the paper didn't mention the names of any children interviewed, only saying that "children replied by saying that they wanted to learn their lessons in Bashkir instead of Tatar."

...As State TV Focuses On Population's Ethnic Self-Identity
Meanwhile, according to the same RFE/RL correspondent's report, Bashkir state television is currently repeating a number of similar interviews featuring old rural residents, who in Tatar say that in the old times their villages used to be Bashkir, but due to Tatar being taught in schools and Muslim priests speaking Tatar, their villages were Tatarized "but their Bashkir spirit is still alive."

These interviews reportedly reinforced the hard line recently taken by Bashkir ethnologists and historians, who have published numerous works claiming that a major part of the republic's population is made up of Tatar-speaking Bashkirs who lost their ethnic roots and identified themselves as Tatars due to the strong influence of neighboring Tatarstan.

Bashkir Official Enters Debate With Tatar Presidential Adviser
Emir Yuldashbaev, head of the public and political development department in the Bashkir presidential staff's main analytic-information department, published his reaction to the controversial book "Who are you, Tatar?" by Tatar presidential advisor on political issues Rafael Khakimov, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 August. In his publication, Khakimov wrote that Bashkirs originated as a branch of the Tatar ethnic family. Yuldashbaev replied to this in his article for Udmurtia's "Tatarskaya Gazeta" by suggesting, "Khakimov is ill with the Golden Horde empire's ambitions."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi