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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 21, 2001

21 September 2001
Parliament Forms Constitutional Commission, Preserves Prohibition on Nuclear Fuel Imports
The State Council on 20 September set up a constitutional commission headed by President Mintimer Shaimiev, Tatarstan Radio and Television reported. Speaker Farid Mukhametshin said that the legislature �won�t hurry with amending the constitution.� The parliament has passed an amendment prohibiting heads of executive bodies to take seats in legislature. Mukhametshin commented, however, that the existing staff of the parliament is legitimate and that it will complete its term while a parliamentary reform will begin later. The State Council has rejected a protest by the republic prosecutor against the republic law prohibiting import of nuclear wastes. Mukhametshin said that deputies were guided �not by political reasons but by a wish to defend republic�s people.�

Moscow Said Wants to Remove Shaimiev From Tatarstan
�Zvezda Povolzhya� on 20 September reported that Vladimir Putin is putting pressure on Mintimer Shaimiev forcing him to leave his post after amending the republic constitution and has offered him the post of Federation Council speaker or Russian State Council secretary. The paper said that Moscow is planning to hold next presidential elections in Tatarstan in 2002 and that Putin has asked Shaimiev about a possible successor. Shaimiev reportedly named Tatenergo head Ilshat Fardiev and State Council chairman, Farid Mukhametshin.

Duma Deputy Says Non-Cyrillic Alphabets Threaten Country's Unity
Kaadyr-ool Bicheldei, the deputy head of the Duma committee on nationalities affairs, said on 20 September that the amendment to the federal law on state languages prohibiting republics to introduce non-Cyrillic alphabets aims to preserve unity of peoples of Russia and a common educational space in the country, reported. He said the amendment orders federation subjects to harmonize their corresponding laws within 12 months. He stressed that the draft is a response to Tatarstan�s law on restoration of Latin alphabet, a move that �should not be allowed.� He said the project promotes norms of the Russian constitution on guaranteeing preservation of native languages and added that introduction of other alphabets in republics might violate rights of representatives of their titular nationalities living outside them. �Zvezda Povolzhya� on 20 September quoted Duma deputy Fandas Safiullin as saying that the amendment demonstrates an odious approach �neither tsar nor Josef Stalin had dared to follow.�

Public Movements Picket to Defend Sovereignty
Tatarstan�s public organizations, including the Tatar Public Center, the People�s Front, and the Creation movement on 20 September staged a picket to defend republic sovereignty and to protest revision of the Tatarstan constitution, Tatarstan Radio reported. They carried slogans saying that �Tatarstan must be sovereign,� calling on deputies to defend sovereignty, and condemning republic prosecutor Kafil Amirov who �promotes Moscow�s policy on restriction of the republic sovereignty.� TPC leader Rashid Yagfarov said that harmonization of the republic constitution is encroachment on its sovereignty. He said that the picket participants will promote sovereignty at all levels including the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

Kazan, Ufa, Izhevsk Consult on Tuben Kama Reservoir Level
A working group of representatives from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Udmurtia on 19 September discussed raising the Tuben Kama reservoir's water level and its economic and ecological consequences, Tatarstan Radio reported. The measure will reportedly leave 100,000 hectares of land in the three republics under water, half of which in Tatarstan, and will require some 7 billion rubles of funding. Meanwhile, the Tatarstan State Council on 20 September has annulled the 1990 decision that prohibited raising the reservoir level above 62 meters.

Five Lives Lost at Kazan Soap Plant
Five people have died on 20 September at the Kazan Vakhitov chemical group of enterprises, Efir-inform reported.

Weekly Says Gap Between Russia�s Christians, Muslims Increases
�Zvezda Povolzhya� reported on 20 September that the estrangement of Christian and Muslim world outlooks is increasingly seen in Russia, a conflict that is intensified by the Chechen war. Permanent ignorance of the interests of Russia�s Muslims and their political second-grade status is forcing them to unite and to view Tatarstan as a leader in this process, the paper noted. It predicted that if Moscow keeps its reactionary approach, the republic would have to initiate a more confederative model of state in order to preserve democracy and orientation to the West.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Cheboksary Opens Representation in Ufa
Chuvashia President Nikolai Fedorov by his 20 September decree has set up a plenipotentiary representation of the Chuvash Republic in Bashkortostan, the third one republic�s mission in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg, and named Georgii Orlov, 57, from Bashkortostan�s Aurgazy raion, as its head, reported. Fedorov said that �Bashkortostan is of special importance� for his republic as it is a native land of Chuvash writers Yakov Ukhsai and Konstantin Ivanov. Some 120,000 Chuvash live in Bashkortostan, and the Chuvash language is taught in secondary and higher schools there. Orlov said that Chuvash in the republic �have always felt support of President Murtaza Rakhimov.�

Cabinet Orders Kumertau Plant KA-226 Helicopter
The Kumertau aviation plant receive an order from the Bashkortostan government to produce a new model KA-226.50, plant deputy general manager Yurii Sovetov told Interfax-Eurasia on 20 September.

Ufa, Prague Create Joint Venture
The Ufa electric transport board and the Czech Pragueimpex company have signed an accord on setting up a joint venture on tram modernization intended to re-equip 180 Czech trams Tatra being used in Ufa, ITAR-TASS reported on 19 September.

Bashkortostan Servicemen Return From Chechnya for Vacation
Some 200 servicemen from Bashkortostan�s regiment in Chechnya�s Novogroznenskii area arrived in Ufa for a six month vacation after its 18 months service there while another detachment of Bashkortostan interior employees will continue its service in Chechnya till January, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 19 September.

Tatars Forced To Study Bashkir�
RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 19 September that Tatars in some schools have been transferred from Tatar-language to Bashkir language classes.

�And Read Bashkir Press
A higher school lecturer who wished to remain anonymous told RFE/RL on 19 September that post offices in the Salavat raion villages where Tatars live refused to draw up subscription on Tatar mass media, especially those being issued in Tatarstan. In the meantime, newspapers in the Bashkir language have been set up in Tatar Yangaul, Dyurtile, Neftekamsk raions, RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The measure is intended to help increase the number of Bashkir population in advance of the forthcoming census.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova