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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 6, 1999

6 April 1999
Tatarstan Official Supports NATO Strikes Against Yugoslavia...
Rafail Khakimov, the state adviser to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, said the flight of some 500,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo was a humanitarian catastrophe. Khakimov said in an interview with Tatar-inform that he "isn't a supporter of air strikes but the European Union is trying to defend the rights of national minorities, using for this a different means, and this is justified." He said the idea of defending the Albanians isn't new, and said that all diplomatic measures and even economic sanctions had been tried -- even when considering that [the Yugoslavs] had earlier pursued a similar policy in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Khakimov said the Serbs' actions in Kosovo are the consequence of the "fascist" ideology of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who has used the NATO strikes to strengthen his own power. He continued that the "position of Milosevic was rather unstable, and due to the war he [has now] obtained the support of the whole country." Khakimov viewed Russia's role in the Balkan crisis negatively. He said Russia supported Milosevic from the very beginning and created an impression that Russia will always be with the Serbs. He added that "it would be better for Russia today not to interfere in the events in Yugoslavia."

At the same time, Khakimov said that air strikes against Yugoslavia are unlikely to result in the desired effect, and the genocide against the Albanians in Kosovo is not likely to end without the use of NATO ground troops. Khakimov added that "the Serbs have large and well-trained military forces, and how NATO troops would fare if confronted by them is still an unknown question." In his opinion, the greatest factor to consider in the entire crisis is the genocide against the ethnic Albanians, and he said neither Europe nor the world can remain indifferent to it.

... And So Does Nationalist Opposition
Leaders of the Tatar Public Center's Kazan branch said they support NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, Tatar-inform reported. The presidium of this nationalist opposition group adopted a statement saying that NATO's action is being taken to "curb Milosevic's bloody regime and is aimed at the defense of the rights of all the ethnic minorities in Yugoslavia."

Former Pension Fund Chief Is Sought
The prosecutor-general of Kazan, Fler Bagautdinov, issued a warrant for the arrest of Valerii Alekseyev, the former head of Tatarstan's affiliate of the Russian Pension Fund. Alekseyev is accused of corruption and misuse of Fund assets resulting in losses of 18.5 million rubles ($740,000). Alekseyev was relieved of his chief duties with the Fund in June 1998. Tatar-inform reported that Alekseyev currently is in hiding but that his son, who is also accused of corruption, has been arrested.

Tatar Youth Group Forms
A Tatar Youth Information and Culture Center has been founded in Kazan by the Tatar State Committee for Youth Affairs and the Executive Committee of the Tatars' World Congress, Tatar-inform reported. The Center will be involved in the coordination and cooperation of youth from the Tatar diaspora, and ethnic cultural associations in Russia and abroad to promote the strengthening of cultural, scientific, and educational ties between Tatar young people.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova