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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 17, 2001

17 October 2001
Shaimiev Says Enlightenment Is Way To Oppose Radical Islam
In an interview with "Izvestia" published on 17 October, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev says, "One of the goals of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. was to ignite a conflict between different religions and set the world against Muslims." He says he is "concerned about the lack of unity among Russia's Muslim leaders," adding that it "creates an environment which assists alien elements [of Islam] in entering [Russia]." Shaimiev spoke of Islam as a "peaceful and tolerant religion inspiring people to do only good things," while "some terrorists try to use it as a shelter, thus committing a grievous sin."

The president says that "religious and non-religious education are to oppose radical Islam," referring to the recently opened Russian Islamic University in Kazan that succeeded "a more progressive Jadid school." He says an educated person steeped in the Koran would never be radical.

Shaimiev says federal legislation on religion "specifically marks Orthodox Christianity, prompting questions from Muslims who call Russia their motherland." He adds: "Official events are usually attended by the patriarch or other representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Muslim leaders are less common there.... Maintaining balance in these delicate issues would not hurt anybody. President Putin's meeting with the country's muftis [Moslem leaders] made a good impression, and his clear-cut position on separating terrorism from Islam was positively accepted by the entire world."

Tatars Named A Major Muslim Nation In Russia
According to "Izvestia" the same day, Tatars represent almost 50 percent of Russia's Muslim population. The paper reported that, if Tatars and Bashkirs were a single nation, they would represent about 60 percent of the country's Muslim community.

Official Says Oil-Price Decline Would Threaten Tatarstan's Economy...
Deputy Economy and Trade Minister Sergei Mukhin told reporters on 16 October that a possible slump in world oil prices would "negatively influence Tatarstan's economy" by causing the state budget to lose 10-15 billion rubles [$340-510 million] in revenues. Mukhin added, "This year there is a trend toward reducing the dominant role of the oil industry in the republic's economy. For example, in 2000 oil presented over 40 percent of gross domestic product and in 2001 it presented some 35 percent."

...Which Has Otherwise Been Recovering
Sergei Mukhin also said industrial production figures for 2001 had grown by 8 percent compared to the previous year, while Russia's industrial output grew by 5 percent in the same period. Thus far in 2001, Tatarstan reportedly produced 17.5 billion rubles [$595 million] worth of goods. Meanwhile only 68 percent of the republic's companies earned profits this year.

Finance Minister Says Budget Will Double Social-Security Spending
Efir TV quoted Finance Minister Robert Musin on 16 October as saying that 62.4 percent of Tatarstan's budget for 2002 would be spent on social security, twice as much as in 2001. Budget revenues are forecast at 39 billion rubles [$1.33 billion], while expenditures are expected to exceed that sum by 2.5 billion rubles [$85 million].

Egyptian Doctors Ready To Cooperate With Tatarstan
A delegation from Egypt's Health Ministry met the head of Tatarstan's Foreign Affairs Department, Timur Akulov, to discuss imports of Egyptian medicine to the republic and ways to share the experience of Tatar physicians, local media reported on 165 October.

Tatarstan Among Fastest-Developing Russian Regions
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade on 16 October released socio-economic development statistics for 2000. According to a table that factors in the region's living conditions and economic development, Tatarstan is Russia's fourth fastest-developing region.

Government To Sell Kazan Airport
Tatarstan's government intends to sell 65 percent of its shares in Kazan's second airport, which has a registered capital of 19 million rubles [$650,000]. The airport serves shuttle flights inside the republic, which have so far proven unprofitable. The future investor will also face back wages to airport employees and tax arrears totaling over 40 million rubles [$1,36 million].

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Census Official Says Baptized Tatars To Be Identified As Part Of 'Tatar Nation'
The chief of Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee, Akram Ganiyev, said on 16 October that during the national census in October, 2002, baptized Tatars living in the republic -- known as Kryashens -- will "have to register themselves as Tatars, although they tend to separate themselves from this ethnic group." He said previous censuses showed that some Mishar and Tipter Tatars living in the republic defined themselves as Tatars, while others preferred to register as Bashkirs.

Federal Ministry Approves Bashkortostan's Plans To Complete Construction Of Nuclear Power Plant
Experts from the Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry visiting the stalled nuclear power-plant project in Agidel said the buildings constructed so far met the appropriate standards for resuming construction, AROMI reported on 16 October. The project has been halted by environmental concerns for nearly a decade. Earlier media reports said the Bashkir government had not consulted with the government of neighboring Tatarstan before re-launching the nuclear project, which lies close to their mutual border. Some 21,000 Agidel residents have been in limbo in the interim, as they were expecting jobs connected with the project.

Germany's Wagner and OLT Could Help Outfit NefAZ Plant
A German representative for the companies Wagner and OLT, visited the NefAZ automotive plant in Neftekamsk on 16 October, expressed preparedness to supply car-painting equipment to the plant.

Private Medicine Law Discussed By Parliament
Bashkortostan's parliament is discussing a draft law on private medicine that sets additional restrictions on low-profile physicians who intend to begin private practices, Bashinform reported on 17 October.

Bashkir Capital Also An Industrial Center
Industrial production from enterprises located in the Bashkir capital Ufa totals more than 33 billion rubles [$1.12 billion] so far in 2001. Production is reportedly being fueled by the oil, machinery, and metals industries.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi