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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 7, 2001

7 August 2001
Shaimiev Invited To Participate In UN General Assembly
Giandomenico Picco, the personal representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Dialogue of Civilizations Year, met with President Mintimer Shaimiev on 6 August and invited him to take part in a United Nations General Assembly session on 3-4 December, Tatar-inform reported. Picco stressed that Tatarstan's experience could be used in other countries of the world and that the harmony existing in Tatarstan is a positive sample not only for Russia. He said that he is searching for a way to instill the idea of peace not only into the authorities but into ordinary people as well.

Scholars Call For Reviving Greater Volga Way
Opening an international conference on "The Great Volga Way" on 6 August, President Shaimiev said that the creation of an international "North-South" transport corridor under the aegis of the United Nations could promote transnational interests and be of cultural and political importance for the development of a dialogue of civilizations, Tatar-inform reported. Shaimiev said that the experience of Tatarstan with its balance of cultures and religions could serve as a model for a dialogue of cultures. It could also promote the perception of Islam as a peaceful and flexible religion in contrast to the negative image of Islam that exists in the world, Shaimiev noted.

Giandomenico Picco told the conference that that the Kazan forum is an example of dialogue and that Tatarstan's adherence to tolerance and peace is becoming widely known in the world. The head of the Russian Government's Experts' Council, Georgii Khizha, Russian Deputy Minister for Federation Affairs and National and Migration Policies Aleksei Tomtosov, and Russian Deputy Transport Minister Nikolai Smirnov were in attendance.

Shaimiev Calls For Prolonging Experiment With Latin Tatar Script...
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 6 August said that "we are not ready to start on 1 September implementing a program on realization of the law on the restoration of the Latin Tatar alphabet," Tatar-inform reported. He added that he does not consider it necessary to speed up the introduction of the new script as this is not the first or the second change of alphabet for Tatars during a relatively short time. He proposed proceeding with the experiment on the use of the Latin alphabet in several schools and studying the experience of countries that have introduced Latin script. The agency also cited political researcher Midkhat Farukshin as saying that the introduction of the Latin script will likely result in a reaction in Moscow that is "not very pleasant" for Tatarstan.

...While American Professor Backs Latinization Of Tatar Language
University of Wisconsin professor Uli Schamiloglu told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 5 August that switching to the Latin Tatar script would facilitate communication between Turkic peoples. He said that during the 850 years before 1917, Muslim Turkic peoples used a common alphabet, and during the Soviet period, they had for a decade the common Latin alphabet (jangalif). But for over 60 years after that, they had numerous Cyrillic alphabets that differed very much from each other as Stalin conducted a policy of forcibly dividing Turkic peoples, he noted. Schamiloglu said that moves toward latinization exist among Slavic peoples as well and even in China. He said that the adoption of a common Turkic Latin alphabet would not necessarily mean Turkey's growing influence, as, for example, before 1917 Kazan was one of the brightest poles of the Turkic world. He added that it would be difficult for Tatars to create a joint Turkic university together with other Turkic peoples, or for Tatarstan to attract the Tatar diaspora abroad, without switching to the Latin alphabet.

Number Of Cholera Patients Drops
President Shaimiev has sharply criticized republican officials who failed to prevent the cholera spread in the republic, saying that "nothing excuses us," Tatarstan Television reported on 6 August. He called for those officials responsible for the situation to be punished. It was reported the same day at a meeting between Shaimiev and Russia's chief sanitary doctor Gennadii Onishchenko that cholera was brought to Kazan from outside Russia. The number of cholera patients as of the evening of 6 August was estimated at 40.

In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Health Minister Yuri Shevchenko on 6 August to discuss sanitary conditions in Russia and the cholera outbreak, RIA-novosti reported. Shevchenko said that the cholera source has been localized and that there is no threat that the disease will spread.

By Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Creates Transport Company
The government has discussed measures to reform railway transport in order to promote competition and free price formation and to attract investments, Bashinform reported on 6 August. Aleksandr Nikitin, the head of the Bashkortostan department of the Kuibyshev railway, said that the rolling-stock owned by the Russian Railways Ministry is being passed to non-state companies, and called for the creation of a republican transport company that could provide firms with wagons. The heads of the Bashkir petrochemical company, Salavatnefteorgsintez, Soda, Kaustik, Kauchuk, Mineral fertilizers and other companies agreed to constitute such a company. Prime Minsiter Rafael Baidavletov said that the republic needs 17,000 freight cars.

42.4 HIV-Carriers Per Thousand Population In Bashkortostan
The number of HIV-infected residents increased over the past week by 32 to 1,656, Bashinform reported on 6 August. In 2001, a total of 1,299 new HIV-carriers were registered, 15.5 times more than during the same period last year. Since 1987, 33 residents of Bashkortostan have died from AIDS.

Rakhimov Concerned About Agriculture
President Murtaza Rakhimov has called for strict measures toward farms facing losses that total 44 percent, Bashinform reported on 6 August. He called it "disgraceful" that 134 farms are in the course of bankruptcy while the government spends so much on agriculture. And he added that personnel reshuffles similarly bring no positive results.

Automobile Production Up, Light Industry Down
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov told a government meeting that average wages grew by 19 percent, while the real incomes of the population increased by 9 percent during the first half of this year compared to the same period last year and have again reached the pre-August 1998 level, Bashinform reported on 6 August. Industrial growth during the first six months of 2001 totaled 9 percent compared to 6.5 percent in 1999 and 8.2 percent in 2000. Automobile production increased by 32 percent, and oil extraction by 14 percent. But the prime minister said that light industry production has fallen by 13 percent and the electricity and construction material sectors have also reduced production.

Bashkir National Movement Leader Calls For Creating People's Front In Bashkortostan
Marat Kulsharipov, a Bashkir national movement leader and the head of the history faculty of the Bashkir State University, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 6 August that the creation of the people's front in Tatarstan, which unites numerous political organizations in order to defend the republic's sovereignty, is "a very positive event." He said that Bashkortostan, however, lags behind Tatarstan in this respect, and he called on the republic's public organizations to unite as well for the protection of Bashkortostan's sovereignty. He said that the republic's leaders do not take enough measures to defend Bashkortostan's sovereignty at a time of growing pressure upon it.

By Gulnara Khasanova