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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 17, 2001


17 December 2001
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Putin Addresses Muslims On Eid Fetr Holiday
President Vladimir Putin offered his best wishes to Russia's Muslims to mark the end-of-Ramadan, Eid Fetr holiday, strana.ru reported on 16 December. Putin said a renaissance for the country's Islamic population is underway. He said Russia is a nation where religion is the basis of peace, tolerance, and mutual assistance, adding that Russians should oppose anything that stirs up tensions based on intolerance. "We have to [work together to] prevent attempts to sow ethnic and religious discord between people," he said.

Envoy Says Volga Leads By Example In Inter-Faith Relations
The Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko, told "Vek" on 14 December that a dialogue between Islam and Christianity is Russia's "special mission." Kirienko said the multi-ethnic and multi-faith character of Russia is its wealth, adding that the Volga district has a great and unique experience and demonstrates the potential for the peaceful coexistence of Islam and Orthodoxy.

Kirienko predicted that the 2002 census will show a higher number of Muslims in Russia than the currently reported 20 million. He said monthly monitoring in the Volga district is registering a trend of acceptance of Islam by the Russian-speaking population.

Kirienko called for measures to support traditional Islam to prevent its radicalization, including the development of Islamic educational institutions, the publication of Muslim literature in the Russian language, and training for secular specialists to take part in an inter-faith dialogue. He noted that some Orthodox leaders oppose publishing Islamic literature in Russian, arguing that it would serve to spread Islam. Kirienko praised the "bright" activities of the Kazan Russian Islamic University.

Rumors Emerge Of Kazan Mayor Moving To Federation Council
"Vechernyaya Kazan" on 14 December reported that Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov may be nominated to represent the Tatarstan State Council at the Federation Council to replace Speaker Farit Mukhametshin, who left the Russian parliament's upper chamber on 15 December. The daily called the new Federation Council "a useless but honorable place of exile for influential and potentially dangerous political rivals."

Scholar Says Tatars May 'Lose' Majority Status After Census
Ethnologist Damir Iskhakov told "Vostochnyi ekspress" on 14 December that 400,000 Tatars were assimilated between the 1979 and 1989 censuses, but he suggested that the assimilation has since slowed. Some 25 percent of Tatars are living in ethnically mixed marriages, he said. Iskhakov called on Tatarstan's authorities to establish special bodies in charge of relations with Tatars outside Tatarstan. He stressed that Tatar leaders always considered the frameworks of the republic too narrow for Tatars -- as they were developed under 20th-century ideas of a Russia-wide national-cultural autonomy, the Idel-Ural State, and the Tatar-Bashkir Republic. Some Moscow ideologists are seeking to separate the Tatar diaspora from Tatarstan in order to weaken Tatars, Iskhakov asserted.

Iskhakov considers the idea of dividing the Tatar nation into six ethnic groups in the 2002 census "a deliberate, subversive act" and believes it will largely fail. Specifically, Tatars supposed to be "Mishers" in fact do not consider themselves Mishers, he said.

Iskhakov said less than half of Siberian Tatars questioned are going to register in the 2002 census as "Siberian Tatars" -- in hopes, he says, of obtaining land and other benefits if they register as aborigines. Iskhakov said the idea that Christian Tatars existed before Ivan the Terrible conquered the Kazan khanate and began baptizing Tatars is scientifically unfounded. He added that Christian Tatars total up to 7 percent of Tatars, saying if they are registered separately in the census, the portion of Tatars in Tatarstan will fall below 50 percent from its current figure of 52 percent.

Meanwhile, "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 14 December reported that Moscow plans to annul the republics where representatives of a titular nation represent less than half the population.

Court Strikes Down Budget Provisions Of Constitution
The Tatarstan Supreme Court sustained a challenge by Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev against provisions of the republican law on the budget and the budgetary process in Tatarstan as contradicting federal legislation, regions.ru reported on 14 December. The court annulled paragraphs of the law according to which territorial state bodies were given the financial powers of local self-governance bodies.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Tatarstan, Bashkortostan Discuss Common Strategy In Moscow Relations
A parliamentary delegation from Tatarstan led by Speaker Farit Mukhametshin visited Ufa on 13-14 December to discuss the ongoing harmonization of republican legislation with federal law, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. The visitors included Tatarstan State Council Presidium member Marat Galeev and Midkhat Farukshin, an adviser to that republic's State Council chairman. Meetings included three-hour, closed-door talks with Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov. The group also met with Bashkortostan State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev to discuss inter-parliamentary relations. Bashkortostan's parliamentary spokesman, Ravil Umetbaev, said the officials came to discuss harmonization of republican legislation with federal law and to promote a common position in the two republics' relations with Moscow.

Eight Injured In Chechnya From Bashkortostan Contingent
The Bashkortostan Interior Ministry's press service reported on 14 December that eight of 342 members of the republic's interior detachment serving in Chechnya's Urus-Martan were injured, six of them seriously, a week ago in an attack by Chechen fighters.

RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 14 December cited a police captain who served in Chechnya as saying such militiamen are sent to the North Caucasus with little training and understanding little about the mission. He added that his detachment, which recently returned from Chechnya, was still owed a portion of the money due for that service.

Duma Deputy Claims Bashkortostan Increased Subsidies Tenfold
Duma Deputy Rim Bakiev told Bashinform on 14 December that Russian parliamentary deputies from Bashkortostan successfully introduced an amendment to Russia's 2002 budget, according to which 40 facilities in the republic -- rather than the originally planned eight -- will receive funding from the federal budget. Subsidies increased from an initial 18.5 million rubles ($616,000) to 200 million rubles ($6.6 million), Bakiev added.

Federal Inspector Calls Power-Sharing A Historical Reality
The chief federal inspector to Bashkortostan, Rustem Khamitov, told a press conference on 14 December that a system of treaty-based relations between Moscow and the republic will likely change in mid-2002. Khamitov suggested that such relations be regulated by a special law. He said he considers it necessary to maintain the practice of treaty-based relations with several federation members, including Bashkortostan. Treaties should be maintained in those regions which have historical traditions of such relations and in which the population considers itself belonging to Russia through treaties, he added. Bashkortostan has a centuries-old tradition of treaty-based relations with Russia, so Moscow "should treat this fact with more restraint," he said.

Khamitov said the remaining contradictions between republican legislation and federal laws are connected to the power-sharing treaty. He identified just two more "complex" issues, including laws regulating ownership of natural resources and funding.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
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