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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 7, 2001

7 March 2001
President Meets Muslim Leaders
President Mintimer Shaimiev met with Muslim leaders from the regions of Tatarstan on 6 March. He told them that religious life had developed well in the last decade, noting that "there were only 23 mosques in Tatarstan in the early perestroika period, [but] now there are more than 900." Shaimiev stressed the importance of Islam as an educational force and he urged expanding the role of the Kazan Islamic University in preparing mullahs for all parts of Russia. After the meeting, the Muslim leaders conducted the first prayer in the still unfinished Kol Sherif mosque in the Kazan Kremlin.

UN to Consider Refugee Problem in Tatarstan
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Russia John McCallean was quoted by Tatarinform on 6 March as saying that he shares the concerns of the republic's migration policy chief Rishat Khayrutdinov concerning the rising number of refugees in Tatarstan. Between 1992 and 2000, some 47,000 people from CIS countries have formally applied for refugee status in Tatarstan. McCallean said that he will visit the republic in the future to examine the situation.

Ukrtatnafta Demands Tax Recessions From Ukraine
Tatar-Ukrainian joint oil-processing company Ukrtatnafta appealed to Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma on 6 March to lift the recently introduced tax concessions for diesel fuel importers. Together with the joint Lukoil-Ukraina and TNK-Ukraina companies, Ukrtatnafta said that failing that Kyiv should provide the locally operating joint ventures with similar recessions.

Foreign Leaders Send Tatarstan Greetings on Kurban Bairam
On the Muslim holiday, President Mintimir Shaimiev received greetings from Muslim leaders around the world, including from Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and Palestinian leader Yaser Arafat.

Competition to Be Repeated for Kazan Defenders Monument Project
The first two rounds having failed to yield a winner, the Tatarstan Union of Architects announced that it will conduct yet another to find the best project for a future memorial to the defenders of Kazan at the time of Ivan the Terrible's conquest of the city in 1552. Once erected, this monument will join one erected to the Russian conquerors set up immediately after Ivan's victory.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkirs Demands Nationality Line in Passports
A group of Bashkortostan citizens gathered in Ufa on 6 March to demand the inclusion of a nationality line in passports and to call for a republic referendum on the matter, Bashinform reported on 6 March. The meeting said that the elimination of the line by Moscow violated Article 26 of the Russian Constitution. The group, led by Bashkir State University Marat Kulsharipov has applied for official registration as an NGO.

Federal Employment Service Official Named
Russian Minister of Labor and Employment Alexander Pochinok named Timerkhan Bikkinin chief of the republic branch of the federal employment service on 6 March. The same day deputy Prime Minister Fidus Yamaltdinov presented Bikkinin to the Bashkir cabinet and said, "despite the department�s federal subordination, the new body will not be neglected by republic government."

Cattle-Breeding in Republic Successful
Agriculture Minister Mikhail Mineev told the Association of Bashkortostan Farmers on 6 March that "the government will allot more attention to cattle-breeding because it is one of the few money-making industries in the sector," republic media reported.

Legislators to Participate in Greater Ural Meetings
By revising its charter, the Greater Ural Economic Association, which includes Bashkortostan, will have more officials as members, including the heads of regional legislative bodies. Up to now, only executive officials took part in association meetings.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi