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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 28, 2002

28 August 2002
Tatar Congress Kicks Off With Roundtable Discussions
Delegates at the World Tatar Congress (BTK) participated in roundtable discussions on Science, Education, and Culture of the Tatar People; Modern Tatar Youth and Its Future; and Tatarstan's Business Partners on 28 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The discussion groups compiled lists of measures to preserve Tatar communities both inside and outside the Russian Federation and to increase cooperation between these communities and the government of Tatarstan. The measures are to be voted on by the BTK plenary session on 29 August.

Delegates Push For Additions To Congress Agenda
The Tatar Public Center (TIU), chaired by Reshit Yagafarov, and the Ittifaq party, chaired by Feusie Beiremova, made a public statement on 27 August demanding that the issues of Tatarstan's sovereignty and self-determination of the Tatar people be included on the agenda of the World Tatar Congress, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 28 August.

Unofficial Tatar Delegation From Bashkortostan Allowed To Participate In Congress
An alternative delegation elected by Tatar civic groups in Bashkortostan has been given permission to join the World Tatar Congress on 28-29 August, TIU Chairman Reshit Yagafarov said on 27 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 August 2002). As many as 80 Tatar delegates will travel to Kazan from Ufa on 28 August, while the 40 delegates elected by the Tatar organizations of Bashkortostan have already arrived.

Since being given permission to take part in the congress, Tatar civic groups have canceled their plans to hold a demonstration on Kazan's Freedom Square today.

KamAZ, AvtoVAZ Discuss Joint Project
Vasil Kayumov, general director of KamAZ's Compact-Cars Plant (ZMA) in Chally, told a press conference in Moscow on 27 August that ZMA is holding negotiations with Russia's major automaker AvtoVAZ on the creation of a new compact car to be sold under the Oka name, reported.

Tatar Magazine Turns 80
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev congratulated the staff of the Tatar-language "Kazan Utlari" magazine on the 80th anniversary of its founding on 27 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Shaimiev met with the magazine's chief editor, Ravil Feizullin, to discuss the popular Tatar magazine, which once boasted as many as 83,000 subscribers but now has only 10,000. The president suggested that schools and organizations in the republic be forced to get subscriptions to the magazine in order to increase its revenues, though Feizullin disagreed with this strategy, saying the magazine should instead "become more interesting and get closer to readers and their everyday life."

It was agreed during the meeting that the magazine would begin publishing an annual Russian-language edition to try to attract Russian-speaking readers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Government Declares Crackdown On Wage Arrears
Bashkortostan's Cabinet of Ministers on 27 August adopted a resolution that cites several industrial companies in the republic for wage arrears, including the Salavat optic-mechanical plant Berkut, the Tuymazi Geofizoborudovanie mineral resources prospecting equipment plant, and the Bashlesprom timber plant, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa reported. The resolution also instructed Bashkortostan's Labor Ministry and the republican Prosecutor's Office to punish the state companies' directors for failing to pay their workers on time.

Tatar Congress Leader In Bashkortostan Says International Forum To Face New Reality
Eduard Khamitov, the head of the Tatar Congress branch in Bashkortostan, told Bashinform on 27 August that "although some people try to accuse us of" allowing government bodies to take part in the 3 August congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan, "it couldn't be [done] any other way because our goals are not only important for the public but also for the state...We are grateful to Bashkortostan's president and the government for their help in organizing the congress."

Speaking of the differences in this year's (28-29 August) World Tatar Congress compared to the previous two forums, he noted the current tendency toward splitting ethnic Tatars into subgroups, and said that "some of these groups, which only have a few members, are interested in gaining the status of being a minority."

Farmers Allowed To Pay For Electricity With Produce
Bashkortostan's deputy prime minister, Shamil Vakhitov, told reporters on 27 August that in order to reduce the 987 million rubles ($31.1 million) debt held by local farms for electricity, Bashkirenergo has established a new "Promtsentr" enterprise that will accept agricultural produce in exchange for unpaid electricity bills, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. More than one year ago Bashkirenergo decided to accept natural fertilizers from farmers in lieu of paying their energy bills.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi