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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 19, 2001

19 October 2001
Speaker Refutes Publication Of Russian Paper
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 18 October published an appeal by Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhamenshin to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" Editor-In-Chief Tatyana Koshkareva in which he refuted information the paper had published about his "contacts" with the Libyan fund Taiba. Mukhametshin said he has never had any such contacts. He also dismissed the paper's report that the construction of the Yoldyz madrasah in Chally was sponsored by that fund and said that, after Yoldyz' reorganization in 1999, no foreign missionaries influence the madrasah. He called Islam an important part of the Tatar spiritual heritage, culture, and history but noted that politicization of Islam and other religions in Russia as well as active attempts by foreign religious missions to influence believers present dangerous trends. Maintaining a balance of interests of traditional religions is a position of principle held by Tatarstan's authorities, he added.

Zvyagintsev Appeals Against Tatarstan Constitution Decision
Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev has appealed the Tatarstan Supreme Court's rejection on 3 October of several of his recommendations on amendments to the republic's constitution, RIA-Novosti reported on 18 October. Zvyagintsev told the agency that the court had not satisfied his assertion that the activities of prosecutors' bodies are regulated only by federal legislation. He also disagreed with local state bodies' responsibility for local self-governance, as spelled out in the republic's constitution.

Duma Deputy Says Moscow Seeks To Annul Tatarstan And Its President
Duma Deputy Fandas Safiullin, commenting on proposals by Moscow politicians to annul the post of president within Russia's republics, says that, "If Moscow is unhappy with the title �president,' Tatarstan's head can be called �khan,'" "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 18 October. Safiullin said the assault was not only on the post of president in Tatarstan, but it seemed the republic itself has been annulled; he noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention Tatarstan, whose harvest was third-largest in Russia, when he praised regions with the highest agricultural production this year.

Memorial Meeting Calls For Tatarstan's Full Independence
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 18 October published an appeal by participants in a meeting commemorating the conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible. The statement calls on the preservation of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty, constitution, and legislation. It also appeals for an announcement declaring an "anti-sovereignty ruling" by the Russian Constitutional Court unenforceable on the republic's territory. The resolution called for initiating a declaration of Tatarstan's full independence and beginning negotiations with leaders of neighboring republics on establishing an Idel-Ural confederation. The meeting participants demanded the introduction of Tatarstan's own passport and citizenship, and the assumption of control over judicial and law enforcement bodies located in the republic. They also called for a switch to the Latin alphabet as soon as possible.

Public Movement Leader Calls On Shaimiev To Step Down
Airat Sharipov, the leader of the civic movement Creation, called on the Tatars of the world to unite to preserve their culture, language, and statehood and to defend their interests, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 18 October. He said that Russia is becoming an increasingly totalitarian and authoritarian state, which threatens its social and economic wealth and territorial integrity. He protested Moscow's "gross interference" with Tatars' internal affairs, saying that they are not allowed to decide which language they should speak and write or to dispose of the natural resources of their land. He said that no political body in Tatarstan is able to protect the interests of the state and its residents. He appealed to President Mintimer Shaimiev to pass his powers to those able to preserve and defend achievements.

Bible Published In Tatar
The first full edition of the Bible in the Tatar language was issued by the Kazan Idel-Press publishing house in 25,000 copies, reported on 18 October. The project and translation were carried out by a Moscow research institute. The institute also finished the translation of 27 books from the New Testament with the help of professional interpreters from Kazan. The Bibles will be freely distributed to libraries and penal institutions throughout Russia, according to the reports.

Milli Mejlis To Renew Activities
Milli Mejlis, an alternative Tatar parliament, is to hold one session in Kazan's National Culture Center on 20 October. Tatar nationalist groups organizing the event reportedly sent an invitation to President Mintimer Shaimiev and his chief of staff, Egzam Gubaydullin. According to recent media reports, Milli Mejlis is expected to replace its present leader, Tatar writer Aidar Khalim.

Radical Nationalist From Chally Says Volunteers Ready To 'Help Afghan People'
Rafis Kashapov, leader of the nationalist Tatar Public Center branch in Chally, told Efir TV on 17 October that volunteers have expressed readiness "to help the people of Afghanistan in struggling with the aggression of the United States." Kashapov added that TPC "didn't send anyone to join the military conflict in Afghanistan, since it is not a militant organization." Kashapov characterized the volunteers as "people who know how to use guns and provide basic medical aid." In his words, Chally TPC made a decision on gathering humanitarian aid for Afghan people.

Kashapov earned a reputation as a radical nationalist by declaring at rallies of nationalist Tatar organizations that he has sent "volunteer groups" to join the forces of Chechen militants, though he reportedly denied those statements during an investigation by Tatarstan's interior bodies.

Tatneft Developing Cooperation With Iraq...
Khamit Kaveyev, the Tatneft oil company's official in charge of foreign economic activities, told Solid-info on 18 October that his company has recently signed contracts to drill 78 oil wells and train oil-mining engineers for Iraq. Kaveyev assured reporters that Tatneft "closely followed developments in this region and consulted the Russian Embassy and Trade Representation in Iraq" to ensure the timely evacuation of its employees in case of any threat to their lives. In the meantime, Tatarstan's dominant oil company is preparing to take part in an upcoming oil and gas fair in Baghdad.

...And Iran
The same agency reported that Tatneft is about to sign a contract on oil prospecting in Iran and to promote the use of its technology for reinforcing the sides of bore-holes there. Iran is also interested in Tatneft's services in prospecting for drinking water and know-how for maximizing oil output. Due to the special features of oil extracted in Tatarstan, Tatneft has rich experience in extracting "hard" high-sulfur oil.

Deputies Cite Financial Abuses By Local Housing Services
The parliamentary Control Committee of Tatarstan's State Council revealed cases involving state-funds embezzlement by housing-services companies totaling over 90 million rubles [$3.06 million]. Deputies asked the republic's law-enforcement bodies to investigate cases of padding the costs of new public transport purchased for Kazan and construction materials, among others.

Public And State Organizations Fight HIV And Drug Addiction Among Teenagers
The organization New Century and Tatarstan's Sanitary-Epidemic Monitoring Service on 18 October announced a campaign for preventing the spread of HIV and drug addiction among young people. The effort is sponsored by the United States and the UN, and will invoke youths to tell their peers of the dangers of being careless. According to official figures, five youths have died of AIDS within the last decade in Tatarstan, while drug overdoses have claimed 101 lives. Eighty-three percent of the drug addicts registered at the republican drug clinic are from 14 to 29 years of age. Some 24 percent of teenagers polled in Tatarstan have tried drugs once or continue using them.

Tatarstan A Leader In Foreign Investments Among Volga District Regions
The Volga federal district's Tatarstan Republic attracted the lion's share of investments in the district during the first half of 2001 by obtaining about 22 billion rubles [$748 million]. Tatarstan was also named the most attractive partner for foreign investors, who poured in $442 million in the same period.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova and Iskender Nurmi

UES Representation Falls On Bashkirenergo Board
Bashkirenergo shareholders elected a new management board and reelected Nur Saifullin chairman at an extraordinary meeting initiated by Russian utility UES, Bashinform reported on 18 October. Three UES representatives were elected to the new board, while Russia's electricity grid had five spots on the old board. Five of the 13 represent Bashkirenergo, and two more are Bashneft heads. UES has in the past accused Bashkirenergo, which is independent of UES, of violating its charter and of refusing to pay UES subscription fees for services. Bashkirenergo heads said they do not consider the election results a victory over the monopoly, adding that a compromise must be reached to reconcile the views of the two sides.

Ethnic-Germans' Leader Says Rehabilitation Of His People Remains Formal Pledge
German Arngold, the honorable chairman of Bashkortotan's Union of Germans, said that a full and true rehabilitation of Russian Germans still "remains on paper," Bashinform reported on 18 October. He said that half of all Russia's Germans and one-third of those Germans residing in Bashkortostan have emigrated in the past decade. But the agency noted that the republic has taken measures to help them preserve their ethnic identity. Some 1,000 German students now attend secondary school in Bashkortostan. The republic has 12 German classes and two German Sunday schools, as well as 11 cultural centers and nine libraries.

Architects To Discuss Town Planning
Architects from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kyiv, and Kaliningrad will gather in Ufa to take part in a Russia-wide conference to discuss town planning on 22-25 October, Bashinform reported.

Bashkortostan's Legislative Chamber Starts New Session
The legislative chamber of Bashkortostan's State Assembly began a session on 18 October that reportedly will focus on approximating Russian laws, particularly on the international exchange of information, veterinary practices, basic guarantees of children's rights, and social contributions to orphans.

Russia, Europe Study Bashkortostan's Taxation Experience
Bashkortostan's government met on 18 October to discuss the implementation of a joint project, called Taxation Reform, initiated by Russia and the European Union within the TACIS program. Russian and European officials reportedly were interested in the republic's approach to taxation of the oil industry and stimulating investments in the oil-drilling sector.

No Movement On Alleged Mismanagement Cases
None of the recently unearthed cases of financial mismanagement by enterprise management has been handed over to prosecutors, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Bashkortostan's State Control Committee recently revealed numerous cases of suspected abuse (see "Bashkir Daily Report," 18 October 2001).

Japan Interested In Bashkir Industries
The CIS branch of Japanese Sumimoto Corporation on 18 October expressed its gratitude to President Murtaza Rakhimov for Bashkortostan's assistance in organizing the visit of Japanese businessmen earlier this fall. It also thanked Rakhimov for help in maintaining Sumimoto's cooperation with the local soda plant and expressing its hopes for wider cooperation with Bashkir industries.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova and Iskender Nurmi