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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 15, 2001

15 October 2001
Mourning Event Turns Into A Meeting On Tatarstan's Independence...
More than 2,000 people gathered at Kazan's Ireklek [Freedom] Square on 14 October to mourn those who defended the city during the conquest of Ivan the Terrible in 1552. Some of the mourners burned likenesses of the Russian state symbol and historical maps, while others shouted slogans like "Freedom" and "Unity." Leaders of moderate nationalist Tatar movements decried "Moscow's mistaken policies regarding different ethnic groups living in Russia," while speeches also included references to growing federal pressure on Tatarstan's legislators. Those gathered pledged to defend the chairman of the republic's State Council, Farit Mukhametshin "in case Moscow orders his arrest for failing to amend republican laws to [comply with] federal ones." Russian media have reported that federal laws prescribe penalties of up to two years in jail for the heads of regional legislatures that refuse to proceed with legal convergence. Demonstrators also adopted a call for the republican and Russian governments to "adopt an act on Tatarstan's full independence and create an Idel-Ural confederation [uniting the regions of the Volga River basin and the Ural Mountains], reject Russian passports and introduce our own, and [hand] law enforcement and military bodies [to] local authorities." The group later marched to the Kazan Kremlin for a Muslim prayer to those who died defending Kazan.

...While The Orthodox Church Mourns Those Who Stormed Kazan
The Russian Orthodox Church on 13 October held a prayer ceremony near a monument to the forces of Ivan the Terrible killed in the battle for Kazan in 1552. Some 30 individuals, plus priests and ethnic Russian residents of Kazan joined the event.

Baptized Tatars To Declare Themselves A Separate Ethnic Group
The ethnic-cultural organizations of Kryashens, or baptized Tatars living in Tatarstan, gathered for a conference on 13 October. According to documents adopted at the conference, Kryashens plan to hold an international congress in February 2002 to declare baptized Tatars a separate ethnic group -- with its own language, orthography, culture, history -- living in the Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Bashkorotstan, and Orenburg oblasts. Currently Tatarstan is home to a community of 200,000 Kryashens, while only 120,000 live outside Tatarstan. In national censuses, baptized Tatars have been registered as representatives of the Tatar nation. The next national census is to be held in October 2002.

Refugee Statistics Show A Return Of Tatars From Conflict Zones
Representative offices of the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district issued a public statement on 12 October saying that 9,000 people are currently registered as refugees in Tatarstan, mostly from Central Asia, while over 40,000 refugees have already canceled their refugee status and begun a "normal life" since 1992. Some 73 percent of the refugees coming to Tatarstan are reportedly Tatars who prefer to live in towns, rather than settle in rural areas.

Moscow Finishes Alterations To Tatarstan's Judicial System
Marsel Galimardanov, chief federal inspector in Tatarstan, distributed identification documents signed by president Vladimir Putin to the republic's judges on 12 October. He took the opportunity to note that from the moment judges obtained new identification, "they have more responsibility because they appear on behalf of the Russian Federation's president." In early 2001 federal authorities canceled the powers of judges appointed by the republican parliament, requiring that they be approved by the Russian president. Since then, some have been unable to resume work as they wait for Moscow to authorize their candidacies -- thus causing delays in Tatarstan's judicial system. According to Galimardanov, only two judges are still awaiting authorization.

Kazan's Public Transport Seeks To Stop Free Rides For Pensioners
Officials of Kazan's tram and trolley-bus company, Kazangorelektrotransport, suggested on 12 October that pensioners should be deprived of the right to use their transport for free, complaining that their enterprise faces serious losses due to figures showing that more than 30 of its customers are elderly people.

Preservationists Complain Of Insufficient Wages
Yuri Gorshkov, director of the Idel-Kama natural reserve, told a meeting of Russian Federation Council officials and Tatarstan environmental officials on 12 October that his forest rangers earned some 800 rubles [$27] per month, which is lower than even the salaries of their counterparts in natural parks of African states like Kenya, Butan, or Uganda.

Tatenergo Cuts Heat To 100 Companies
Heat and energy producer Tatenergo is owed 2.8 billion rubles [$95 million] by Tatarstan's industrial companies, 104 of which are already cut off from the heating network, Tatnews agency reported on 13 October.

Bread Producers On Brink Of Collapse
Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy and Industry Sergei Kogogin told a government meeting on 12 October that the failure rate of Tatarstan's bakeries was over 90 percent. He added that the production cost of bread in Alabuga, Tuben Kama, Chally, and Bogelme exceeded its market price.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets With Senior Border Official
President Murtaza Rakhimov met with the chief of the Russian Border Police's southeastern regional department, Ruslan Mullayanov, to discuss ways to improve security at Ufa international airport, the presidential press service reported on 12 October.

Republic Introduces Subsidies For Student-Families
Bashkortostan's government issued a decree introducing 100-ruble [$3.40] monthly subsidies to the families of university students with children, Bashkortostan's media reported on 15 October.

Residents Could Be Legally Obliged To Visit Dentists
Radmir Khasanov, the Health Ministry's man in charge of dental hygiene, told reporters on 12 October that "in order to ensure proper medical assistance to Bashkortostan's residents, there should be a legal act obliging them to regularly attend the dentists." He said Bashkir legislators are expected to endorse such an act, which is to introduce cheaper medical services for disciplined patients in spring of 2002.

Bashkortostan Marks Anniversary Of State Symbols
The Bashkortostan Republic officially marked the eighth anniversary of its adoption of a state seal and national anthem on 12 October 1993, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi