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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 21, 2004

21 December 2004
World Tatar Congress Calls For Broader Use Of Latin Tatar Script
The World Tatar Congress Executive Committee at its meeting on 10 December in Kazan passed a resolution to wider use of the Tatar Latin script in writing, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported the next day. Representatives of Tatar national-cultural organizations of Tatarstan and Tatar diasporas of the CIS and other foreign countries took part in the forum.

Speaking at the forum, Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva said there is a trend of decreasing use of Tatar even in Tatarstan, where the number of Tatar schools is falling and children in Tatar families don't learn to speak Tatar since their parents speak Russian. Presidential adviser Rafael Khekimov criticized Russia for giving up on the principle of federalism and reducing the powers of Russia's regions. Tyumen University professor Khenise Alishina delivered a statement from Siberian Tatars supporting the preservation of Cyrillic script of the Tatar language, which sparked strong reactions. The meeting also decided to extend the admission of Tatars from outside Tatarstan to republic's higher-educational institutions and training teachers for Tatar schools in Tatarstan and regions with concentrations of Tatars.

Supreme Court Rules 10 Legal Acts In Contradiction Of Federal Legislation
The number of suits considered by Tatarstan's Supreme Court on Tatarstan laws and legal acts contradicting federal ones fell from 42 in 2002 to 18 in the first nine months of 2004, reported on 11 December. Tatarstan's prosecutor has filed suit this year against five republican laws, eight government resolutions, the Declaration of State Sovereignty, and the Tatar Constitution as contradicting federal law. Of 11 prosecutor's appeals considered by the court, nine have been satisfied fully or partly.

Deputy Mufti Completes Doctoral Work
Tatarstan's First Deputy Mufti Weliulla Yaqupov defended his PhD thesis on the Islamic component of state relations with religious groups in Tatarstan in the 1990s, reported on 10 December. In his research, Yaqupov describes Russia's Muslim religious boards' battles for influence in Tatarstan, the establishment of an independent Muslim Religious Board in Tatarstan; and intrigue among mullahs, sects, and the system of Muslim education in Tatarstan. Yaqupov, who was a Komsomol leader before 1990, then joined the national movement, headed Kazan's leading madrasah, Mokhemmedie, and worked on Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board.

FSB To Focus On Safety Of Kazan Millennium Celebration
At its annual meeting on 14 December, the Federal Security Service (FSB) department in Tatarstan announced that ensuring the safety of the preparations and celebration of Kazan's 1000th anniversary in August 2005 will be a priority next year, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. Improving the coordination of the activities of law enforcement and state authorities in security will also be an important task for the FSB in 2005. The meeting also discussed the department's efforts in fighting terrorism, extremism, and organized crime, and its intelligence and counterintelligence activity. the meeting was attended by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, Interior Minister Esget Seferov, and chief prosecutor Kafil Emirov.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim Signs Agreement With Basell
Tatar petrochemical giant Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Italy's Basell signed an agreement on the purchase by the Tatar company of a license and a package of technological documentation for production of up to 230,000 tons of different types of polyethylene a year, reported on 14 December, citing Nizhnekamskneftekhim's press service. The agreement continues cooperation begun in the production of up to 180,000 tons of polypropylene at Nizhnekamskneftekhim that started in 2003.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

EBRD Awards $45 Million Loan To UralSib
The council of directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a $45 million credit for the UralSib bank, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 11 December. UralSib International Financing board head Leonid Vakeev told the daily that the credit line was opened for a four-year term. EBRD Moscow spokesman Richard Wallis said $30 million will be allocated for loans to small and medium-sized businesses, $10 million for commercial guarantees for foreign trade operations, and $5 million for loans to agricultural companies. Credits to businesses will be issued at 25-27 percent interest rates, which is too high, according to of the Brokerkreditservis analyst Valerii Petrenko. EBRD expert Roman Lesokhin said, however, that the loans' high interest rate is compensated for by the high speed of its provision, since neither a business plan nor a special bank account is needed to obtain the credit.

Hizb ut-Tahrir Activists Detained In Ufa
Two alleged distributors of leaflets issued by the prohibited Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir have been detained in Bashkortostan, RIA-Novosti reported on 13 December, quoting an unidentified source inside Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry. One suspect was detained near the central market of the town of Davelkanovo, and the other was seized near a department store in Beloretsk. The activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir are prohibited under enforcement policies that have been backed by the Russian Supreme Court.

More Money Tentatively Slated For Republic's Youth
The financing of programs that target the republic's young people will be increased significantly in 2005 under the current draft budget, Regnum reported on 13 December, quoting statements from the State Youth Policy Committee. Projects include combating drug addiction, alcoholism, and smoking. More money would also be allocated for providing housing for young families. Currently, only 200 young families per year are provided funds to purchase apartments, while 4,000 such families are waiting for apartments in the capital Ufa alone.

Kazakh Bank Opens Branch In Bashkortostan
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 14 December in Ufa with Kazakhstan's Bank TuranAlem Chairman Yerzhan Tatishev to discuss cooperation issues, Bashinform reported the same day. Tatishev informed Rakhimov about the bank's plans to open a branch in Bashkortostan and attract investments in Bashkortostan's economy. The same day, Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and Tatishev signed a protocol on intentions regarding cooperation between the Bashkir government and the bank.

2005 Declared Year Of Preventing Drug Addiction, Alcoholism, Smoking In Bashkortostan
The Bashkir Presidential Council decided at its meeting on 14 December to declare 2005 the year of preventing drug addiction, alcoholism, and smoking in the republic, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 15 December. Speaking at the meeting, Rakhimov said the scale and consequences of the problem present a global threat not only for the health and wealth of the population but also for national security. The council summarized activity on protecting the environment this year, which had been declared the year of the environment. A total of 7.2 billion rubles ($256 million) was spent in this area in 2004, of which 1.16 billion rubles came from the republic and 4.38 billion rubles from republican companies.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Human Rights Situation In Chelyabinsk Oblast 'Satisfactory'
Activists from the human rights organization Legal Consciousness presented a report on the human rights situation in Chelyabinsk Oblast in which they noted that as a whole, the situation in the oblast is better than in other regions and can be called satisfactory, reported on 14 December. At the same time, the report names the nonpayment of wages, interference of security agencies, and nonobservance of environmental legislation as major violations. The report cites the riot of prisoners in the Verkhneuralsk prison against poor conditions and treatment, the exit of the liberal parties Yabloko and Union of Rightist Forces from the oblast, and Federal Security Service interference in public life. The report recommends passing the draft law on the office of ombudsman in Chelyabinsk Oblast from 2003 and adopting legislation ensuring the exchange of information concerning human rights.

Kurgan Oblast Governor Reelected...
Incumbent Kurgan Oblast Governor Oleg Bogomolov was reelected as governor in the second round on 19 December, Regnum reported on 20 December. Bogomolov, who was supported by Unified Russia, received 49.15 percent of votes. His competitor, Moscow businessman Yevgenii Sobakin, supported by the Union of Rightist Forces, got 40.13 percent, while 9.51 percent voted against all candidates. In the first round, 35 percent voted for Bogomolov and 23.7 percent for Sobakin. The second round was initially scheduled for 5 December but the Kurgan Oblast court cancelled the decision and postponed the elections. The Russian Supreme Court, however, then overruled the verdict of the oblast court.

...As Is Marii-El President
The Marii-El Central Election Commission announced on 20 December with 98 percent of votes counted that incumbent President Leonid Markelov was reelected to a second term in office in the 19 December elections with 56.9 percent of the vote, Regnum reported the same day. His closest rival among the other four candidates, Moscow notary Mikhail Dolgov, received 18.93 percent of the vote, while Aleksandr Korotkov, the deputy chairman of the charity fund Victory-1945, got 10.39 percent. Some 9.87 percent voted against all candidates. Turnout was 63 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of registered voters in the Marii-El presidential elections was 517,552, while only five months ago, in the 14 July parliamentary elections in the republic, it was 555,395, Regnum reported on 20 December, citing the website of the republic's Central Election Commission ( The commission said that work on the refinement of voter lists between the elections resulted in such a drop.

Hunger Strike In Tavda Over
On 20 December, 23 workers at the Tavda Microbiological Plant (TMBK), part of the Tavda Hydrolyze Plant (TGZ), ended a hunger strike they had been holding since 15 December, reported on 20 December, citing union leader Lyudmila Soloveva. On 19 December, two hunger strikers were hospitalized. The strike was stopped after all back wages owed to the strikers and 10 of their relatives working at the plant was repaid. A payment of 3 million rubles ($104,000) was paid, though plant workers are still owed 12 million rubles. TMBK General Director Sergei Bagreev and TGZ Competition Manager Grigorii Pervukhin have been detained and are under investigation for nonpayment of wages and embezzlement, Regnum reported on 17 December. On 25 November, the plant's management announced it was closing the plant and laying off some 1,000 workers, who have not been paid since September and were not given severance pay.

Udmurt Congress Opposes Merger Of Regions
The ninth All-Udmurt Congress of the Udmurt Kenesh association at its congress on 11-12 December in Udmurtia's capital Izhevsk opposed the merger of Russia's federation entities, the Den information agency reported on 14 December. The issue of merging regions was a key one at the forum of 381 delegates from across Russia. Participants expressed concern and strong disagreement with the possible changing of the status of the Udmurt Republic in the course of reforming the state-territorial system of the Russian Federation. It was noted that the current statehood of the Udmurt people has historically taken shape from the self-determination of Udmurts in their voluntarily joining the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic through the establishment of its state entity, the Udmurt Autonomy, in 1920. In early November, Udmurt President Aleksandr Volkov, who is ethnic Russian, opposed the merger of Russia's regions.

Court Removes Candidate From Ulyanovsk Election
The Ulyanovsk Oblast court has disqualified Sergei Gerasimov from the second round of the Ulyanovsk gubernatorial elections set for 26 December, RBC reported on 20 December. The court ruled in favor of a suit by Gerasimov's rival, Dimitrovgrad Mayor Sergei Morozov, who accused Gerasimov of bribing voters by reducing prices at the dairy company of which he is chairman. In the 5 December first round, Morozov came in first with 27 percent, followed by Gerasimov with 20.9 percent. Gerasimov's representatives told the news agency on 20 December that the Ulyanovsk court's verdict will be appealed to the Russian Supreme Court. If the verdict is not annulled, State Duma Deputy Margarita Barzhanova, who was third in the first round, will take Gerasimov's place in the second round. She has already appealed to the election commission.

Meanwhile, Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov said on 20 December that the second round of the Ulyanovsk Oblast elections will take place in any case "since nobody has the right to postpone them." He said it is not yet clear who will take part in them.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova