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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 30, 2001

30 August 2001
Shaimiev Proud of Republic's Last Decade
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 29 August held a special press conference devoted to the upcoming celebrations of 11th anniversary since the adoption of Tatarstan's sovereignty declaration. He said that that the declaration gave people of his republic an opportunity "to be proud of what was achieved in the last decade and additional responsibilities for its future destiny." He noted that Tatarstan "didn't go beyond the framework of Russian Constitution or claim full independence." In president's words, "our declaration didn't destroy Russia's integrity and this fact is often forgotten." Shaimiev recalled that before 1991, "Tatarstan had no rights to make any decisions." And he concluded that "after a period of strengthening the state, President Putin would face a problem of building a true federation in Russia... I'm sure that Vladimir Vladimirovich understands it well that this task would emerge soon and remain for a long while."

Federal Minister Praises Republic's Economic Development
Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade Herman Gref on 29 August told senior republic officials and businessmen that Tatarstan had lead in many reform areas in deeds and not only in words. On 30 August he will take part in Republic Day celebrations in Kazan.

Bread Producers Cut Prices
Bread producers in the republic agreed to cut bread prices by 11-13% at their meeting in Chistay, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported on 29 August. This reportedly put Tatarstan�s bread prices to the lowest level in Volga federal district. The cuts are possible because of the good 2001 harvest, they said.

China Interested in Purchasing Tatarstan Land
A delegation from the Chinese embassy in Moscow met Tatarstan State Council officials on 29 August to discuss purchasing arable lands in the republic for Chinese farmers. State Council Secretary Valentina Lipuzhina told the guests that for foreign citizens it was only possible to rent land in the republic. The Chinese said they were interested in that possibility as well.

Latin Script Promoted Outside Republic
The World Tatar Congress has organized courses on the Latin-based Tatar script during the Tatar Youth festival which attracts Tatars from Russia, the CIS countries and further afield, RFE/RL Kazan Bureau reported on 29 August.

Iran Seeks Cooperation With Tatneft
A parliamentary delegation from Iran visited the head office of the Tatneft oil company in Elmet to discuss cooperation, reported on 29 August.

Gazprom Promises to Supply Tatarstan with More Gas Next Year
Russia's Gazprom monopoly will increase its natural gas supplies to Tatarstan by 30 million cubic meters in 2002 in response to republic's timely payments for gas this year, Tatarstan State Radio reported on 29 August.

Republic Day Celebrations to Be More Modest This Year...
Tatarstan media report that this year's celebration of Republic Day on 30 August will be more modest than in past years, attracting fewer outside dignitaries and including fewer events.

...As Janitors Say They Won't Clean Up after Them
Meanwhile, janitors of Yanga-Savin district of Kazan announced on 29 August that they would not help clean up the city after the celebrations, because they have not been paid for their work since June 2001.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Tatars Urge Abolishing Republic Language Law
Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center called on Ufa to abolish the republic language law saying that it was passed without any public discussion and that it discriminates against the 1.5 million Tatars living in the republic, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 29 August. The authors of the appeal also sent it to republic prosecutors and the Russian Prosecutor General. They also said that during the 1989 census, 200,000 republic residents classified as Bashkirs in their passports were listed as saying that Tatar is their native language. And they noted that the government commission on realization of the law on state languages is forcing such "paper Bashkirs" to study Bashkir, thus violating paragraph 35 of the republic Constitution which calls for allowing citizens to freely select language of instruction. And they concluded that this "genocide" against Tatars taking place in Bashkortostan is the worst result of the totalitarian regime flourishing during the past decade.

Rakhimov Calls for Moscow to Consider Regional Experience in Education
President Murtaza Rakhimov said that the concept of the development of the education system in Russia must take into account experience of regions, the press service of the Bashkortostan representation in Russia reported on 29 August. He said that in Bashkortostan, almost half of secondary educational institutions are national schools and gymnasiums where 63 percent of non-Russian children are taught in their native languages. He noted that instruction is held in secondary schools totally in six languages and 14 languages are taught. He said that he considers it an important task to cultivate values of federalism in youth so that to provide a respect of national cultures being a necessary part of common human culture.

Not One Resident Has Asked for Passport Without Local Pages
The Republic Passport-Visa Board continues to have problems because of long lines of applicants for new passports, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 29 August. So far 27,000 republic residents have received new passports with local pages, and not a single one has asked for the document without the insert, officials said. But there have been some who have torn out the additional pages after receiving their passports.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova