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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 4, 2002


4 September 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Federal Prosecutors Says Tatarstan Owns Its Industries Illegally
"Most of the companies owned by Tatarstan Republic are owned illegally," Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov said in a letter to President Vladimir Putin, "Vremya Novostei" reported on 3 August. Ustinov reportedly informed the president that in the early 1990s, Tatarstan's government signed an agreement with Moscow which handed over state-owned industries, including Defense Ministry plants, to the republic. According to Ustinov, this contradicted the Russian Supreme Council's 1991 resolution on the division of state property between the regions and Moscow.

Presidential Advisor Says Duma Unlikely To Ban Tatar Latin Script
Rafael Khakimov, Tatar presidential advisor on political issues, told the local edition of the "Komsomolskaya Pravda" daily in an interview published on 4 September, "I don't think that the State Duma will have the courage to finally adopt the amendment to the law on Russia's peoples' languages because it would be an obvious violation of Russia's Constitution and international law." Earlier this year, the State Duma passed in the first reading an amendment obliging all the ethnic republics to use only Cyrillic-based scripts for their state languages, thus undermining the Tatar Latin-script reform which began in 1997 in Tatarstan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 June 2002).

Khakimov added, however, that after the Duma passed the document in the first reading, "it created fear that only Tatarstan will switch to Latin Tatar, while Tatars outside the republic will stick to the Cyrillic script and this will split the nation." He emphasized that the law on Tatar-script reform "was already working in the republic and the number of street signs in Latin Tatar script was growing."

Russian Official Says Tatarstan Residents Among Taliban Detainees
Deputy Prosecutor-General in the Southern Federal District Sergei Fridinskii said on 3 August that seven Russian citizens are "possibly" kept in the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with Taliban militants detained in Afghanistan, Interfax reported on 3 September. Fridinskii quoted some "diplomatic channels" as saying that in addition to four Russian citizens identified among the Guantanamo prisoners earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 June 2002), three more Russian citizens are reported to be detained and the federal Prosecutor-General's Office plans to file an official query on the detainees' identities to the U.S. Justice Department.

Fridinskii refused to name the suspects but said that they were "residents of Mordovia and Tatarstan." According to reports earlier this year, the detainees were from Bashkortostan and one from Kabardino-Balkaria.

Tatarstan Develops Its Muslim Education System
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov attended the opening ceremony of a new Muslim religious school in the Bua region of Tatarstan on 3 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 September. In his speech, Minnikhanov emphasized that "there were times when [our] students had to go abroad to study Islam...and now Tatarstan has its own facilities for preparing its own specialists in Islam." Tatar Muslim Religious Board Chairman Gusman Iskhakov said during the opening ceremony that the new Bua school is an affiliate of Russian Islamic University and will prepare religious tutors not only for Tatarstan, but also for the neighboring Chavashia and Ulyanovsk Oblast.

Government, Tatenergo Discuss Federal Energy-Sector Reform
Tatar Economy and Industry Ministry and Tatenergo officials met on 3 September to discuss the draft federal laws on reforming the energy sector, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 4 September. Tatenergo's chief engineer Yurii Shelokov told the meeting that his company wanted to act as an equal partner during the reform and obtain compensation for the use of its high-capacity power lines which will become a part of the national electricity network. Shelokov insisted that his company sign a special contract with the federal network company, because after the reform, Tatenergo will not be able to use the power lines for selling electricity to individual consumers in the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
School Director Who Told Putin About Tatar Problems Persecuted In Bashkortostan
Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov, director of the Belebei high school, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 3 September that Belebei education officials who he criticized at a 30 August meeting in Kazan with Russian President Vladimir Putin are trying to fire him. They accuse Khoseinov of being absent from work on 31 August, the time when he was returning from Kazan to Ufa. At the meeting with Putin, Khoseinov sharply criticized republican authorities for preventing Tatars in Bashkortostan from studying their native language and for forcing them to register as Bashkirs in October's nationwide census. Khoseinov also said he is prepared to suffer any hardships for the sake of his people and native language. After Khoseinov's speech, Putin said that he wishes him success.

Amendments To Power-Sharing Treaty Being Discussed
The working group developing amendments to the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan held a meeting on 3 September, the presidential press service reported the same day. The group is chaired by Bashkir presidential administration head Ildar Gimaev. It was established by a 3 June Bashkir presidential decree made according to personal agreement between Russian President Putin and Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov on the further development of treaty-based relations. The necessity to amend the document is being explained by the "serious changes" in the country's social and economic development in the eight years since the power-sharing treaty was signed. The new draft treaty -- which includes numerous changes, among them redefining Bashkortostan's powers vis-a-vis Moscow and the joint powers for Moscow and Ufa -- received support at the meeting. The new version of the document provides for the establishment of a mechanism to resolve controversial issues between the two sides. The meeting passed a resolution to finish the draft and to introduce it to Rakhimov.

Austrian Businessmen Visit Bashkortostan
A delegation of Austrian business representatives began a two-day visit to Bashkortostan on 2 September, the press service of Bashkortostan's plenipotentiary to Moscow reported the next day. A working group on cooperation between Russia's regions and Austria was held on 2 September in the representative's office in Moscow. Russian Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Mikhail Dmitriev told the meeting that exports from Russian to Austria increased in the past year by 40 percent. Foat Khantimerov, the head of the working group's Russian part and head of the Russian Pension Fund in Bashkortostan, discussed the results of a Bashkir delegation's visit to Austria in May, during which the Austrian representatives said they were ready to invest in Bashkortostan's timber industry and to sell equipment for the republic's bakery and food-processing industry.

Bashkortostan's Alternative Delegation Not Recognized By Tatar Congress
The Third World Tatar Congress delegates elected by the alternative congress of Bashkortostan's Tatar public organizations were not provided with transport or meals during their stay in Kazan like other delegates were, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 2 September. The alternative delegates were permitted to take part in congress roundtables, but not in the forum's plenary session. On 29 August, the day of the plenary session, police surrounded a building belonging to Tatarstan's Emergency Situations Ministry, in which the alternative delegation was staying, and began searching for a bomb. Later, the Tatar activists were forced from the clinic. The congress did not recognize Bashkortostan's alternative delegates while Tatarstan's media ignored them, the correspondent reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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