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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 24, 2003

24 January 2003
2002 Sees Big Increase In Oil Exports
Tatarstan exported more than 9 million tons of oil in 2002, an increase of about 40 percent in comparison with the previous year, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote on 24 January, citing the head of the republican customs agency, Nikolai Kotsubenko. The republic exported about one-third of its entire oil output, bringing in $1.185 billion in revenues. Oil accounted for 60 percent of all exports, while petroleum-based products made up another 20 percent, and the remainder consisted mostly of aircraft and automobiles.

KamAZ Resumes Exports To Iraq
Following a shareholders meeting on 17 January, KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin said that a 30 December United Nations resolution limiting truck exports from Tatarstan to Iraq concerned only heavy-payload trucks, adding that, "We are completely calm about current KamAZ supplies to Iraq," Efir television reported the same day. Kogogin added that KamAZ had resumed exporting trucks to Iraq, which, he said, would only be stopped by military action in that country.

Road Construction To Decrease In 2003
Tatar Transportation Minister Vladimir Shvetsov told a government meeting on 21 January that, as in the rest of Russia, Tatarstan will focus on maintaining existing roads in 2003 rather than building new ones, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. As a result, the government plans to construction only 220 kilometers of roads this year, as compared to the annual average of 600 kilometers the republic has built over the past six years.

Republic Set For Winter
The Russian State Construction Committee announced in a report released on 21 January that Tatarstan is among seven Russian regions experiencing stable performance of their heating networks, RosBalt reported the same day. The others include Chavashia, Mordovia, Bashkortostan, Kemerovo Oblast, Taimyr Autonomous Okrug, and Moscow.

Paper Claims Vatican Ready Return Holy Icon To Kazan
Russia's "Izvestiya" daily reported on 21 January that the Vatican has agreed to return to Tatarstan's capital the famous Kazan Mother of God icon in time for the city's millennium anniversary in 2005. Although it is not known whether the Vatican has the real Kazan icon, this issue is one of the major points of contention between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches.

Communist Party Archives Being Declassified
Tatar-Inform reported on 22 January that the State Archives Administration has decided to increase access to previously classified documents of the Communist Party and other state bodies in the former Soviet Tatar Autonomous Republic. Many of the declassified documents are to be published in the "Gasirlar Awazi" magazine, while direct access is also going to be provided for historians and political-science researchers.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Antimonopoly Ministry Prescribes Bashkortostan, Udmurtia To Harmonize Bilateral Agreement
The Russian Antimonopoly Ministry on 16 January ordered the governments of Bashkortostan and Udmurtia to harmonize within one month agreements on cooperation in production and processing of oil with federal law signed by the two republics in 1996, reported on 17 January. The resolution came in reaction to several appeals claiming that Bashkir-Udmurt agreements could restrict competitiveness and violate the rights of other market participants.

VGTRK Regional Department Heads Discuss Development Prospects In Ufa
A three-day seminar involving the heads of regional departments of the Russia-wide State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK) from some 50 Russian regions began on 22 January in Ufa, Bashinform reported the same day. Participants discussed the activities of television and radio companies that are in transition to a market economy during the first day of their forum. They talked about the aesthetic and ethical education of the public and securing the spiritual health of young generations. VGTRK Deputy Chairman Petr Zemtsov, who attended the seminar, awarded Secretary Feuket Kidrasov and Deputy Prime Minister Khelef Ishmoratov with honorary silver signs of VGTRK.

Rakhimov's Son To Run For State Assembly
Ural Rakhimov, the son of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, will run for the republican State Assembly as a candidate in the Blagovar Raion, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 22 January. Ural, who heads the boards of Bashneftekhim, Bashneft, and Bashkirenergo, has not ever been a parliament deputy.

NefAZ Boosts Production
The NefAZ auto plant increased its production last year by 15 percent to 2.6 billion rubles ($81.8 million) in comparison with 2001, Bashinform reported on 21 January. The concern assembled 340 buses and some 8,000 dump trucks in 2002. The company was responsible for some 40 percent of the entire industrial production in Neftekamsk and contributed about half of the entire budget for the city.

Tatar Writer Concerned About Drop In Publication Of Tatar Books
The chairman of the Tatar association of the Bashkir Writers Union, Marat Kerimov, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 22 January that the fact that republican authorities pay less attention to publishing belles lettres will have a negative affect on society since literature is the first step in moral education. Kerimov said the publication of Tatar books, which grew in the republic over the past several years, is about to end since the 2003 publication plan of the republic's state-run publishing house includes only two or three Tatar books.

Tatar Teachers Unsatisfied With Tatar Textbook Issued In Ufa
RFE/RL's Boro (Birsk) correspondent reported on 21 January that Tatar language and literature teachers said at their conference in Boro several days earlier that works by Bashkir writers and poets dominate the only Tatar-language textbook published in the republic, while Tatarstan and its capital, Kazan, were not mentioned in that textbook at all. It was reported at the conference that in order to supply Bashkortostan's schools with Tatar-language textbooks, Tatarstan's Education Ministry established direct ties between Tatarstan's raional education departments and the Tatar-language teachers in Bashkortostan's raions.

Few Bashkirs Attend Congress Of Boro Bashkirs
RFE/RL's Boro correspondent reported on 21 January that a congress of Boro (Birsk) Bashkirs, held several days earlier in the city administration's assembly hall and devoted to enacting decisions made at the second World Bashkir Congress, attracted some 90 participants, the overwhelming majority of whom were Russians and Tatars. Only 10 of the participants were Bashkirs, including the deputy chairman of the World Bashkir Congress, Qadyim Aralbaev. About half of the audience were Tatar students from the Bashkir-language department of the Boro Pedagogical Institute. The head of the World Bashkir Congress's Boro branch, Timerbai Iskhakov, said in his report that 2,800 Bashkirs live in Boro and another 800 Bashkirs reside in Boro Raion, adding that after the results of the October 2002 census become available, their number is expected to double. The RFE/RL correspondent, however, cited data from a minicensus of "true Bashkirs" held by local Tatars in September, according to which the number of Bashkirs in Boro city and the raion is 56. Iskhaqov said the Bashkir language is taught in 15 schools attended by 447 schoolchildren, or 90 percent of the total number of Bashkir students. He added that Tatar is taught in 19 schools, involving 64 percent of Tatar students, and one school attended by 1.9 percent of all Tatar students. Iskhaqov concluded that it is necessary to open a school in Boro teaching in Bashkir.

Bashkir Media Oppose Possible War In Iraq
Bashkortostan's official "Qizil tang" newspaper wrote on 15 January that the two different strategies the United States is following regarding Iraq and North Korea -- preparing for military action against Iraq, which denies that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, and negotiating with North Korea, which resorts to nuclear blackmail -- proves that an interest in Iraqi oil is behind the U.S. policy.

The Bashkir communist newspaper "Nash vybor" wrote on 13 January that the U.S. preparations for war in Iraq demonstrate a superpower position and a disregard for the opinion of other people.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Campaign Starts In Chelyabinsk To Elect Former Prosecutor-General To Duma
An initiative group has been set up in Chelyabinsk to propose the candidacy of former Russian Prosecutor-General Yurii Skuratov for the State Duma elections, "Novyi region" reported on 20 January. The group is headed by former deputy speaker of the Chelyabinsk Oblast Legislative Assembly Aleksandr Salomatkin, who was Skuratov's agent in the South Urals during the 2000 presidential race and now works in the Federation Council administration.

Former Raion Administration Head Killed In Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast
Vladimir Volkov, former head of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast's Balakhna Raion administration, was found dead in his apartment on 20 January, NTA Privolzhe reported the next day. Volkov was reportedly shot dead , while his handcuffed body showed signs of torture. The agency cited investigators with the prosecutors' office as saying that Volkov's killing is unlikely to be connected to his activity as Balakhna Raion head.

Balakhna Raion Prosecutor Anatolii Gurylev told NTA Privolzhe on 23 January that Volkov's killing could hardly be a contracted one. The agency cited unidentified representatives of law-enforcement bodies as saying that the killing was likely linked to business activity of Volkov and his son. Oblast State Assembly speaker Yevgenii Lyulin had previously referred to law enforcement bodies in saying that the killing was contracted.

Offices Of TV Company, Newspaper Attacked In Balakovo, Saratov Oblast
The building containing the offices of the Svobodnoe Televidenie television station and the "Svobodnaya gazeta" newspaper in Balakovo, Saratov Oblast, was fired on by a grenade launcher on 22 January, reported the next day, citing RIA-Novosti and Aleksandr Naumov, editor in chief of both media institutions, said political motives may be behind the incident. He said Svobodnoe Televidenie and "Svobodnaya gazeta" sympathize with Vyacheslav Volodin, head of the State Duma Fatherland-All Russia faction, who may run for the State Duma in the next parliamentary elections in the Balakovo electoral district.

Saratov Rabbi Removes Signature From Public Concord, Partnership Treaty
Saratov Synagogue Chief Rabbi Mikhael Frumen removed his signature from the treaty on public-political concord and social partnership in Saratov Oblast when an anti-Semitic article was published in the local pro-government newspaper "Saratovskie vesti" two days after the signing, reported on 22 January, citing State Television and Radio Company Saratov. Frumen said the article includes direct calls to interethnic discord, adding that he appealed to the prosecutors' office to investigate the article, which violates the Criminal Code.

The treaty was signed on 16 January by Saratov Oblast Orthodox Eparchy priest Aleksei Abramov, Volga Region Muslim Religious Board Chairman Moqetdes Bibarsov, and Frumen, reported the next day. The religious leaders joined more than 2,000 civic leaders and government and media representatives who backed the document.

Yekaterinburg Communists Join Antiwar Protest
Some 50 activists of the Communist Party and the Russian Communist Labor Party on 18 January staged a demonstration in front of the U.S. consulate building in Yekaterinburg to protest U.S. preparations for war against Iraq, "Novyi region" reported the same day. The protesters called on all progressive forces "to unite against the American aggression and to defend, if necessary, peaceful interests of the Iraqi people taking up arms."

Tatars Protest Plan For Yermak Monument In Tyumen
Tatar civic leaders of Tyumen held a meeting on 16 January to protest the decision of the Tyumen Oblast Duma Social Issues Committee to build in the city a monument to commemorate the Russian conqueror of Siberia Yermak (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 10 January 2003), reported the next day. The committee backed the initiative by the Tobol-Tyumen Eparchy to erect the monument in the Tyumen Yermak public park where a Muslim cemetery was located and appealed to the Tyumen City Duma to make a final decision on the issue. The meeting participants appealed to city and oblast authorities saying that the measure would mean disrespect of Tatars, who are an indigenous people of Siberia, as well as of all residents of Tyumen, and could rouse interethnic discord. The monument will be a wedge driven between Russians and Tatars in Tyumen Oblast and will discredit the constitutional principle of equality of peoples, the Tatar leaders added.

Jewish Center Vandalized In Ulyanovsk
Several teenagers armed with chains and gas cylinders on 19 January attacked the building of the Ulyanovsk center of the Shalom Jewish community and broke its windows, reported the next day. Police detained a 16-year-old assailant, who said the action was committed by local nationalists he met just before the event.

Kirienko Says Chemical Weapons Will Be Destroyed Within Nine Years
Presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District and head of the State Commission on Chemical Weapon Destruction Sergei Kirienko told a press conference on 22 January in Moscow that Russia's chemical weapons will be completely destroyed by 2012, RosBalt reported the same day. Kirienko said the United States has agreed to allocate money for the construction of such facilities in Russia. He added that beginning this year, half of the funding for chemical-weapon-destruction plants will come from the European Union and the United States, which previously covered only 20 percent of expenses. In 2003, Russia will likely receive $160 million for the program, $150 million of which has already been allocated by the U.S. budget. Chemical plants in Gornyi in Saratov Oblast, Kambarka in Udmurtia, and Shchuche in Kurgan Oblast are to be constructed under the program. The first of them was launched in December in Gornyi.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova