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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 12, 2001

12 November 2001
Working Group Discusses Constitutional Amendments
President Mintimer Shaimiev led a working-group meeting of Tatarstan's Constitutional Commission to discuss amendments to the republic's constitution, Tatar-inform reported on 9 November.

Kazan, India's Hyderabad Become Sister Cities
The mayors of Kazan and Hyderabad, the capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, signed a cooperation agreement on 9 November in Kazan, Tatar-inform reported. Hyderabad Mayor P. K. Mukhanti said the Indian side is interested in cooperation in computer technologies and the pharmaceutical sector. Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov called the agreement a first step toward joint economic, cultural, and educational projects.

Tatar-Swedish Business Forum To Be Held In Kazan
Jan Ulof Nyustrem, a representative with the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, is in Kazan to prepare for the "Days of Sweden in Tatarstan" business forum due to open on 15 November, Tatar-inform reported on 9 November. The forum, initiated by the embassy and Tatarstan's Trade and Economic Cooperation Ministry, is intended to develop direct ties between businesses and cultural relations. A Swedish film festival will be held within the framework of the forum.

Tatarstan's Human Rights Organizations Join 'Young Europe'
The Human Rights Youth Center and the Kazan Human Rights Center became Tatarstan's regional representatives to the Russia-wide youth organization Young Europe at its founding conference in Sochi, Tatar-inform reported on 9 November. The new organization aims to create a "new Europe" by promoting civil society, self-governance, European legal standards, tolerance, and intercultural relations.

Unemployment Down
The Labor Ministry said the number of jobless residents has fallen by 15 percent, to 16,900, in the past year. That represents 0.93 percent of the workforce, Tatar-inform reported on 9 November.

Duma Leaders To Visit Kazan
Leaders from the Duma factions of Unity, Fatherland-All Russia (OVR), and the deputies' groups People's Deputy and Regions of Russia -- including Vladimir Pekhtin, Vyacheslav Volodin, Gennadii Raikov, and Oleg Morozov -- were expected to leave for Kazan on 11 November to meet Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev, RIA-Novosti reported on 9 November. The agency cited Raikov as saying the leasing of aviation production facilities will be among the top issues on the agenda.

Parliament Begins Budget Debate
The parliamentary economic development and reforms committee on 9 November began discussion of the draft 2002 budget, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported the next day. Under the draft budget, revenues are estimated at 35.6 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) while expenses total 37.9 billion rubles ($1.276 billion).

Mufti Strongly Opposes Bombings During Ramadan
In an interview with Interfax on 5 November, the supreme mufti of Russia and European countries of the CIS, Talgat Tadjuddin, sharply criticized plans by the United States to continue the bombing of Afghanistan during Ramadan. Tadjuddin called those plans "flouting the religious values of a billion Islam followers living around the world."

Growth Of Sympathy With Islam In Russia Reported
Participants in a seminar organized by the Carnegie Center in Moscow said there is no alternative to the struggle against terrorism but condemned the continuing bombardment of Afghanistan. Meanwhile some said bombings damage the authority of "[U.S. President George W.] Bush and his companions" and lead to increasing sympathy for Islam and even Osama bin Laden, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 9 November.

Speaking at the seminar, a Duma deputy and the leader of the Eurasian Party of Russia, Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, cited VTsIOM poll figures that showed 76 percent of those questioned expressed sympathy for Islam and 59 percent said they supported bin Laden. Some 70 percent were against the support by Russia of the retaliatory actions.

Aleksei Malashenko, a professor at Moscow International Relations Institute, said that even Westernized Muslim elites had mixed feelings and added that the reaction of the Muslim world may be very unpleasant for Americans and their allies. He said Tatarstan had significant authority in the Muslim world and lauded its efforts in solving ethnic and religious issues. Malashenko told the daily that Tatarstan has taken a wonderfully delicate and diplomatic position in the past decade since it remains a federation member and, at the same time, promotes its own national interests both at home and in its foreign policy. It is a very positive phenomenon providing a balance between Moscow and the region and strengthening political stability in Russia, Malashenko said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russian Court Reverses Bashkortostan Verdicts
The Russian Supreme Court reversed a decision last year by the Bashkortostan Supreme Court, which had upheld a 1 million ruble fine against Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii. Yavlinskii was originally ordered to pay Bashkortostan President Rakhimov compensation for insulting him during the republic's last presidential campaign, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 11 November. The Russian Supreme Court sent the case to the Moscow Kuntsevo Municipal Court for a new hearing.

The Russian Supreme Court overturned another verdict by the Bashkortostan Supreme Court, reversing a five-year sentence against Damir Yenikeev for accepting a bribe. Yenikeev, a professor at Ufa Medical University, had been convicted in May 2001 of accepting a bribe of 7,000 rubles. The Russian court said there was insufficient evidence that a bribe had changed hands.

Federal Budget To Finance Republican Projects
Duma Deputy Rim Bakiev (OVR) told Bashinform on 9 November that due to the efforts by Duma deputies from Bashkortostan, 27 of the republic's institutions will be financed from the federal budget. Bakiev said the Sibai Bashkir Drama Theater will receive 3 million rubles, the Russian Drama Theater of Bashkortostan will get 5 million rubles, and the Irendyq historical-archaeological reserve will be given 3 million rubles. Educational institutions in Bashkortostan will receive some 83.6 million rubles in subsidies, and health-care institutions another 20 million rubles. Some 15 million rubles will be earmarked for the construction of the Polief chemical plant and another 10 million will go toward the construction of the Yumaguzy reservoir.

Bashkortostan Higher Institutions Attract Bashkirs From Neighboring Regions
Bashkir University's Sibai Institute and its representative offices in the Argayash Raion of the Chelyabinsk Oblast, where a large number of Bashkirs live, have accepted more than 100 students from the raion to the institute, Bashinform reported on 9 November. The institution also is developing ties with residential areas in the Kurgan Oblast that are populated by Bashkirs.

Economic Decline Predicted
Economy and Antimonopoly Policy Minister Valentin Vlasov on 8 November delivered a forecast of the 2002 social and economic developments in the republic at a State Assembly session, Bashinform reported. According to the document, next year the republic's economy will face contraction in the chemical and petrochemical industries, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, light industry, and agricultural production.

Tatar Language Teachers Say Children Must Study Their Native Language
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 9 November cited Bashkortostan's Tatar language teachers as saying that in Tatar schools within raions where Tatars live, instruction of the Bashkir language was forcibly introduced this year in first grade. A teacher from the Asqyn Raion's Kubyaz village said that Tatar children studying Bashkir may not be able to speak their native language by the time they graduate. And generally, they will likely speak a "mixture of Tatar and Bashkir," she said, since they study Bashkir at school but speak Tatar outside the classroom. Some 50 Tatar language teachers who gathered recently in the Ilesh Raion center Yugary Yerkei demanded that Tatar schoolchildren be allowed to study their native language. The teachers said this right is provided for by the Bashkortostan Constitution.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova