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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 10, 2001

10 October 2001
Federal Envoy Admits Tatarstan's Authority To Decide On Script Reform
Russia's presidential envoy to the Volga federal district said during an Internet conference on 6 October that he "personally was against the transition of Tatar language to Latin script from Cyrillic" but added that it was "important to distinguish between my own point of view and legal[ity] or illegal[ity]." Kiriyenko said: "Not all Tatars of the Russian Federation live in the Republic of Tatarstan, which is home to only half of them. The preservation of cultural traditions, cultural roots of a rich Tatar history -- which is one of the oldest in Russia -- is a very important issue. If Tatarstan begins publishing books in Latin script and Tatars [are] living outside TR, that would be a problem." Nevertheless Kiriyenko stressed that, "According to existing legislation, the parliament and the government of Tatarstan have a right to make their own decision on which script to use. We shouldn't interfere in this affair from the position of federal authorities, that would be incorrect. But no one has prohibited us from expressing our own viewpoint. I think that it is more important that experts in Tatar culture speak their minds on this issue, which is rather cultural but still very important."

Duma Deputies From Tatarstan Oppose Transition To Latin Script
The weekly "Zvezda Povolzhya" quoted two Russian State Duma deputies representing Tatarstan, Farida Gaynullina and Oleg Morozov, as saying, "It is premature to switch from Cyrillic-based to Latin Tatar script, because that would cause many problems for school students and Tatars living outside TR."

Tatar Muslims Condemn Air Strikes In Afghanistan
Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board (MRB) has responded to U.S.-led strikes against targets in Afghanistan by condemning the war, which it says has destroyed the country's infrastructure and caused the death of civilians, reported on 9 October. The board says the current bombardment "only contributes to long-running civil war in Afghanistan, creating conditions for humanitarian catastrophe there." The MRB also condemned international terrorism, noting that "there is no excuse for barbaric acts against innocent people," presumably in reference to the 11 September terrorist attacks on America, and expressed regret that Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders have not been defeated. A statement said: "These political figures emerged with the help of U.S. and Pakistani special services. History shows that the Afghan problem has no military solution. Only the citizens of that country can bring order to their lives and begin living in peace. And the world community must help them."

Prime Minister Highlights Importance Of Future Census
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, who is also chairman of the State Commission for Census Preparations, on 9 October outlined for Tatarstan residents the importance of a national census taking place on 9-16 October 2002. He stressed the gravity of the republic's effort by saying, "For the next millennium historians will be using the data obtained by this census, just as their modern counterparts rely on the figures of censuses in 1897 and 1989." Minnikhanov said the census "will show Tatarstan's achievements and problems of the last decade. Its results will serve in the adoption of the budget and laws of our republic so that the real situation of social and ethnic groups are taken into consideration." The prime minister urged residents to take part in the event and provide officials with "comprehensive and truthful information" for more solid forecasts of Tatarstan's development and state programs.

Iran Interested In Tatarstan's Assistance In Oil Prospecting
The National Oil Company of Iran intends to sign a contract for oil prospecting with Tatarstan's Tatneftegeofizika, based in Bogelme, Tatarinform reported on 9 October. Iranian officials are currently visiting Bogelme to study the technical opportunities of their possible Tatar partners.

Volga District Tax Officials Gather In Kazan
Top officials of tax bodies operating in regions within the Volga federal district are gathering in Kazan on 10 October for a seminar devoted to new software for their professional needs. The seminar is expected to focus on a new information system for individuals' taxes which was improved and is currently being used in the republic.

World Heritage Organization To Open Branch In Kazan
The World Heritage Organization will open its Eurasian representative office in Kazan, reported on 9 October. Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov recently returned from the World Heritage General Assembly in Pueblo, Mexico, where he was notified of the decision.

Kazan Militia, Emergency Services Given A False Alert
The Kazan militia was put on alert following an anonymous call claiming that there were bombs in the city's railway station, central department store, circus, and main sports hall on 9 October. Checks involving special militia, emergency services, fire brigades, and medics revealed no explosives in the mentioned buildings.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ufa Said To Have No Major Discrepancies With Moscow
Albert Kharisov, Bashkortostan's newly appointed plenipotentiary envoy to the Russian president, said that there were no "principal discrepancies between Moscow and Ufa, because they are united by the common goal of building the Russian Federation," reported. He advocated maintaining the delicate balance between the federal center and the regions by allowing regions to retain some of their freedoms -- otherwise regional officials will not maintain responsibility for anything at all, he said. Kharisov recalled the times when even the issue of buying new curtains for Ufa's theater house was solved by officials of the cultural department at the Communist Party's Central Committee in Moscow.

Fatherland Branch Leader Upbeat About Merger With Unity
The leader of the Fatherland Party branch in Bashkortostan, Rim Bakiev, said that that the future congress of his party and Unity party in Moscow "will form a powerful party called United Fatherland," the daily "Respublika Bashkorotstan" reported on 10 October.

Kiriyenko Says Bashkortostan�s Residents 'Inactive'
Russian presidential representative to the Volga federal district Sergey Kiriyenko said the Bashkortostan public "is not active enough to let the republic host the social and cultural projects fair," Bashinform reported on 9 October.

Jobless Figure Tops 26,000 In Bashkir Capital
Some 26,000 Ufa residents are officially looking for jobs, City Employment Center Director Vasilii Sorokin said on 9 October. More than 5,000 people are formally unemployed, 78% of them women.

Russian Official To Join Celebrations Of Bashkortostan Sovereignty Declaration
Russian Deputy PM Valentina Matviyenko arrived in Ufa to join the opening ceremony at a Republican national center for heart surgery on 10 October and to participate in the Republic Day celebrations on 11 October.

Medics Urged To Prevent Spread of Drug Addiction In Rural Areas
One-quarter of Bashkortostan's officially registered drug users live in rural areas, Health Minister Rais Khasanov said on 9 October. The minister called for intensifying antidrug education in villages. Drug addicts reportedly constitute only 2.8 percent of the republic's rural population.

HIV Statistics Rise
Forty-six additional individuals tested positive for the HIV virus in Bashkortostan last week, Bashinform reported on 9 October, bringing the number of people infected with the virus that can lead to AIDS to about 2,100.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi