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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 22, 2002

22 August 2002
President Speaks Out About Role Of Tatar Congress
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 22 August that the upcoming third World Tatar Congress would help preserve Tatar values and would unite Tatars with respect to the development of federal relations in Russia, Interfax reported the same day. With respect to the October national census, Shaimiev said that it's not surprising that Tatars are upset that several politicians in the country have tried to divide Tatars into a number of sub-ethnic groups, adding that such efforts would incite the ire of any nation.

The Tatar president said that the first World Tatar Congress in 1992 played a decisive role in stabilizing a situation in which Tatar language, culture, and traditions were in danger "without harming the integrity of Russia."

Shaimiev emphasized that during the past decade, the Tatar congress has also played a significant role in establishing Tatar national-cultural autonomies throughout Russia and abroad, in opening Tatar schools in communities outside the republic, and in bringing Tatar-language mass media into existence. The Tatar president finished his interview by saying that he wanted Tatarstan to be an example of how various ethnic groups can coexist peacefully.

Congress Leader Announces Plans To Step Down
The head of the World Tatar Congress, Indus Tahirov, told a press conference in Kazan on 21 August that the upcoming congress will discuss a wide range of issues, including the possible transition of the Tatar language from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin alphabet, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 22 August.

Tahirov, who has headed up the congress since 1992, said he will not run for a third term as congress leader. He said he wanted instead to concentrate on his work at Kazan State University.

New Broadcasting Company Set To Launch Radio Station
The deputy general director of the New Century broadcasting company, Mileushe Aituganova, told a press conference on 21 August that the company will begin broadcasting in Kazan, Chally, Tuben Kama, Leninogorsk, Bilyarsk, Shemordan, Absaliamovo, Minzele, Yanga Shishme, Kaibich, and Yashel Uzen on 26 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 22 August. New Century plans to offer a mixture of news and music programming on the FM frequencies that were formerly used by Tatar state television's Bulgar FM radio station. The company announced that it will reach a broadcast area representing 85 percent of Tatarstan's population.

With programs in both Tatar and Russian, New Century plans to launch shortwave broadcasts to Tatar communities outside the republic, and the company also plans to begin negotiations with the local administrations of Tatar-populated areas to discuss possible rebroadcasts of its programs.

New Century was created during the ongoing handover of the former Tatarstan state television to the Russian State Radio Broadcasting Company.

Russian Officials Expected To Promote Kazan-Produced Planes In China
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov will offer China an opportunity to purchase more Russian-made aircraft during his ongoing visit to that country, an anonymous source in the federal government told the AK&M news agency on 21 August. Kasyanov is expected to discuss the possible replacement of Soviet-made Tupolev 154M jets, which are frequently used by Chinese airlines, with newer Russian-made airliners, including the Tupolev 214, which is produced at the Kazanskoe Aviatsionnoe Proizvodstvennoe Obedinenie (the Kazan Aircraft Plant).

Helicopter Crash In Chechnya Claims Lives Of Three Soldiers From Tatarstan
Tatarstan's Chief Military Commissioner's office announced on 21 August that the 19 August helicopter crash in Chechnya claimed the lives of three servicemen from Tatarstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 August 2002). The bodies of 19-year-old Sergeant Ruslan Kityamov from Nurlat, 20-year-old Private Ravil Shafigullin from Elmet, and 20-year-old Private Rostem Bagautdinov from Chally will be returned to the republic following formal identification in Khankala.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Federal Inspector Elected To Congress
Bashkortostan's chief federal inspector, Rustem Khamitov, an ethnic Tatar, was elected as a delegate to the upcoming third World Tatar Congress by the 10 August Congress of Tatar civic organizations in Bashkortostan and by the Tatar assembly in Saratov Oblast after his candidacy had been rejected by the official government-run Congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan on 3 August, RosBalt reported on 21 August.

Khamitov failed to attend the 3 August congress because he was on vacation, while the majority of delegates present voted to reject his candidacy following a speech by an unnamed Busdyak resident who claimed that Khamitov disrespected the congress and also had antirepublic sentiments.

Official Warns Of Exhaustion Of Mineral Resources...
Rasikh Khamitov, head of the Bashkir department of geology and use of mineral resources, told a press conference in Ufa on 21 August that the republic had about 3,000 deposits of oil, gas, metals, coal, salt, and other types of mineral resources, RFE/RL reported on 21 August. He stressed, however, that about 80 percent of those deposits have already been exhausted and that at the current rate of extraction, the remaining 20 percent will be used up in the next 20-25 years. He called on the government to invest more money into prospecting for new mineral deposits in the lower subsoil in order to prevent the republic's economy from stalling.

...As Republican Company Expands Prospecting Activities
Khamitov told the same news conference that geologists from Bashgeofizika are increasing their oil-prospecting activities in Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, China, and Vietnam, while only 40 percent of the company's staff is working in Bashkortostan.

Two Soldiers From Republic Killed In Helicopter Crash In Chechnya
Sergeant Roman Ismagilov from the Beloretsk region and Private Vyacheslav Kharitonov from the Ishimbay region of Bashkortostan were killed in the 19 August helicopter crash in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 August 2002).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi