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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 9, 2002

9 August 2002
Duma Deputy From Tatarstan Claims That Power-Sharing Treaties Have No Future
Oleg Morozov, the Russian State Duma deputy representing Tatarstan who heads the Russia's Regions faction and is also known as one of the Unified Russia party leaders in charge of ideology, told the "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly on 1 August that in his opinion, power-sharing treaties between Moscow and the regions practiced in the early 1990s "were temporary and I'm not a supporter of concluding new treaties. Everything must be regulated by federal laws." He stressed that the federal government is still working on its power-sharing concept, but in his opinion the issue of power-sharing treaties is "closed."

In its 8 August issue "Zvezda povolzhya" expressed surprise with such a reaction from the politician, who "is considered to be Tatarstan's main representative in the Duma." Meanwhile, the 1994 treaty on sharing powers between the Russian and Tatar governments, extended in 1998, expired on 28 July this year and Moscow has so far expressed no interest in extending it further. Nevertheless, Tatarstan's Constitution, currently criticized by federal prosecutors for violating federal laws in some 40 of its provisions, still contains the text of the power-sharing treaty.

Unified Russia's Executive Blamed For Disrespecting Tatar Language
The same weekly reported another controversial incident during the visit of the Unified Russia party leadership to Kazan on 1-2 August, connected with a statement by the party's Executive Committee Chairman Aleksandr Bespalov, who spoke to reporters after a 2 August meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev. One of the Tatar journalists used his native language in asking Shaimiev and his guest about Unified Russia's attitude to ethnic-policy issues. Bespalov immediately reacted to this by saying, "Asking questions using a language which an individual doesn't know is a violation of human rights." According to "Zvezda povolzhya," Shaimiev, his staff, and the reporters were shocked by these words and both Shaimiev and then his interpreter translated the question for Bespalov.

"Zvezda povolzhya" called this statement a "gesture of disrespect to the local 'alien' language."

Prime Minister On Troubles Of Tatar Economy
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told a meeting of government officials and heads of Tatarstan's industries on 6 August that unprofitable companies have caused losses of 3 billion rubles ($96.7 million) for the republic's economy already this year, RFE/RL reported on 8 August. He also admitted that "black cash" paid to the workers of some local companies without declaring it to tax bodies cost the budget up to 1 billion rubles ($32.2 million) annually in tax revenues. Minnikhanov noted that "in this situation, the government has to create the conditions for businesses to step out of the shadows," but the only measure offered in his report was the creation of an electronic payment-card system for paying salaries.

Tatar Congress Delegates Elections Over In CIS, Near Abroad
According to the World Tatar Congress Executive Committee, elections of the delegates for this year's third World Tatar Congress are over in CIS countries and the near abroad, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 8 August. Six delegates are to represent the Tatar community of Belarus, four delegates are to come from Latvia, 19 from Kazakhstan, three from Kyrgyzstan, two from Moldova, and four from Azerbaijan. The delegates are reportedly mostly Tatar culture workers, scientists, and businessmen, many of whom are young people.

Quarter Of Crops Already Harvested
Some 25 percent of Tatarstan's crops were harvested by 7 August and 20 percent were already processed, Tatar-Inform reported the same day. The Drozhzhanoy region's farmers currently lead the harvesting race with about 50 percent of grain gathered, while the Nurlat region set the record with the highest average grain collection (in the republic) with 4.53 tons gathered per hectare.

Conference Held To Reassess And Promote Role Of Volga River
A scientific conference called "Great Volga Way," devoted to the coming 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and Kazan's millennium began on 6 August in St. Petersburg, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Tatarstan's parliamentary speaker Farit Mukhametshin made the opening speech at the event, outlining the historic role of the Volga River for Russia's economy and culture. Later the event resumed with roundtables of the Volga way's history and its modern role in the country's economy. The conference is sponsored by UNESCO, the European Council, President Shaimiev, St. Petersburg Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev, and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov.

Tatneft Ousted From Moscow Oil-Processing Plant's Board Of Directors
The shareholders of the Moscow Oil-Processing Plant (MNPZ) voted on 2 August to dismiss Nail Maganov, first deputy general director of the Tatneft oil company in charge of oil processing and sale, from the plant's board of directors, Tatnews agency reported on 5 August. As a result, five members of the directors board now represent Moscow Oil Company and four Sibneft company. Tatneft owns a 10 percent stake in MNPZ.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar Congress Calls For Revival Of Nationalities Ministry
Delegates at the second congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars in Ufa on 3 August expressed their concern about growing displays of chauvinism, nationalism, fascism, and extremism in Russia, RosBalt reported on 5 August. A corresponding appeal to the third World Tatar Congress to be held on 28-30 August in Kazan was adopted at the congress.

The Ufa congress suggested that the World Tatar Congress appeal to federal bodies and Russian civic groups to increase the fight against nationalism and extremism and to promote tolerance and cooperation among the peoples of Russia.

The appeal said that federal authorities have taken steps backward in their nationalities policy, adding that what exists as a nationalities policy does not take into account the rights and interests of peoples.

Delegates called on the World Tatar Congress to appeal to federal authorities, requesting that the federal Nationalities Ministry be revived and that regional bodies also be established.

Bashkir Academician Changes Stance On Latinization Of Tatar
Speaking at the congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars on 3 August, State Duma Deputy and President of the Bashkir Academy of Sciences Robert Nigmatullin called for the introduction of the Latin script as a parallel to the Cyrillic script for languages of all Turkic peoples in Russia -- Tatars, Bashkirs, Balkars, Karachais, and Kazakhs -- Bashinform reported the same day. Nigmatullin also stressed that the Latin script should be similar to the Turkish script. "This should be done together, and it will help unite and strengthen the Turkic basis in Russia," Nigmatullin noted. He added that the use of the Latin script is also under discussion for the Russian language, as many people use it to write Russian words in e-mail messages, for example.

Nigmatullin had previously opposed the introduction of the Latin script for Tatar and had signed a letter opposing the idea of introducing the script.

German Fund Collects 22,000 Euros For Crash Victims' Families
The editor in chief of Germany's "Suedkurier" newspaper, Martin Baur, told Bashinform on 2 August that a fund begun by the newspaper to raise funds for the families of victims of the 1 July air crash involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet has collected more than 22,000 euros ($21,300). Baur said that proceeds from the fund, which is called the Bridge To Ufa, will be used to help victims' relatives come to Germany to communicate with residents of the region around Lake Constance where the crash occurred.

Bashkir Schoolchildren Take Part In Congress In Ueberlingen
The siblings of Bashkir schoolchildren who died in the 1 July plane crash near Ueberlingen, Germany, recently took part in an international youth congress in that city, Bashinform reported on 2 August. The Bashkir children presented reports about their republic, specifically about the youth movement in Bashkortostan, the Shulgan-tash cave, and the famous Bashkir dancer Faizi Gaskarov.

Bashkir Delegation Meets With German Police Officials
An official Bashkir delegation recently visited the Lake Constance region of Germany in the province of Baden-Wuerttemberg, where meetings were held with the head of the district police, who expressed his condolences to the visitors for the 1 July plane crash, saying that special relations had come into being between the province and Bashkortostan as a result of the crash, Bashinform reported on 2 August. The head of the Bashkir delegation, who is also the chairman of the support group for the relatives of the crash victims, Zulfat Khammatov thanked the district police for their efforts on behalf of the Bashkir president, prime minister, head of the Bashkir presidential administration, and the parents of the victims. Khammotov said that the delegation wanted to meet the last people who saw their children and helped to look for and identify them.

The delegation also met with police officials in Tuebingen, whom they thanked for helping with the recovery operation. Khammatov told officials that a memorial is being arranged at the Bashkir National Museum where a special exhibition will be set up devoted to German police officers.

Chavash Representative Office Receives Bashkir Accreditation
Bashkortostan's minister of industry, foreign relations, and trade, Boris Kolbin, gave the official representative of the Chavash Republic in Bashkortostan, Georgii Orlov, a certificate of accreditation for the republic's reresentative office on 2 August, Bashinform reported the same day. More than 120,000 Chavash live in Bashkortostan, while 8,000 Bashkirs are residents of Chavashia. Bilateral relations between the two republics are based on a treaty of friendship and cooperation signed in March 1994. Trade turnover between the two has increased over the past three years from 69.2 million rubles ($2.2 million) to 226.9 million rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Moscow To Celebrate 450th Anniversary Of Marii El's Entering Russia
The celebration of the 450th anniversary of Marii El entering the Russian state was granted federal status after President Vladimir Putin signed a special decree on holding festive events, "NTA Privolzhe" reported on 5 August. The agency said a federal organizing committee headed by a Russian deputy prime minister is to be appointed in several days to prepare for the jubilee.

The territory of Marii El was included in Russia as a result of the conquest of the Kazan Khanate by Ivan the Terrible in 1552.

Nizhnii Businessman Who Helped Arrest Deputy Mayor For Bribe Threatened
Businessman Yevgenii Popov, who reported Nizhnii Novgorod Deputy Mayor Vyacheslav Sashchenkov to the authorities for demanding a bribe, has been threatened, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 8 August. Sashchenkov was arrested on 26 July while receiving from Popov a $20,000 bribe and is currently being held in an investigation isolation ward. When Sashchenkov was asked why he extorted money from the businessman, the deputy mayor said, "We are collecting money for the elections."

Three days after Sashchenkov's arrest, four young men came to Popov to say that he "will have to seriously answer for his statement." Popov's mother has also received threatening phone calls. On 29 July, the Nizhnii Novgorod Committee on Managing State Property warned Popov, who possesses a plot of land on which he keeps a car-washing facility, that he is to vacate that plot before 10 August.

Federation Council Head To Be Guarantor Of Perm Oblast, Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug Merger
Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov expressed his readiness to become a guarantor of the merger of Perm Oblast and Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 5 August. The agency said presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District Leonid Drachevskii also backed the idea of the merger, saying, "the merger of territories is a topical issue, as it is extremely difficult to rule over 89 federation subjects."

Journalists' Rights Restricted In Saratov Oblast, Marii El
The Russian Supreme Court confirmed that the rules for accreditation of journalists of the Saratov Oblast government correspond to Russian legislation, "Kommersant" reported on 5 August. Among the rules' requirements are an obligation for reporters to list their pseudonyms in applying for accreditation, and a provision according to which a correspondent is deprived of accreditation for not reporting on the government's work for three months. According to the rules, if an accredited journalist is ill, the journalist's employer must present a document proving that the journalist is unable to get to the government in order to obtain accreditation for another reporter.

The rules were approved on 22 March by resolution of Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov and were then opposed by oblast prosecutor Anatolii Bondar in the oblast court. On 27 April the court ruled in favor of the prosecutor's challenge and declared the protested provisions invalid. The government appealed to the Russian Supreme Court, which ruled that "the adoption of the rules was not only legal but even necessary." The court noted that the demand for reporters to list their pseudonyms "does not restrict the journalists' right to a pseudonym provided by Article 47 of the Russian law on mass media."

Meanwhile, Marii El journalist Olga Shingareeva appealed to the republic's prosecutors' office to protest the statute on journalist accreditation at the Marii El State Assembly adopted by the legislature in June, "NTA Privolzhe" reported on 2 August. Under the statute, only state media reporters are permitted to be parliamentary correspondents. Reporters also can be deprived of accreditation if they do not report about the activity of the parliament for six months. The Glasnost Defense Foundation held an independent legal review of the document that confirmed violating journalists' rights.

Journalists Reportedly Attacked Near U.S. Consulate In Yekaterinburg
Reporters Inna Osipova and Yevgenii Lapidus from Yekaterinburg's Studia-41 TV were reportedly attacked and beaten on 3 August by security guards at the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg, "Novyi Region" reported on 5 August. The pair were preparing a program about Ural skinheads who were demonstrating near the consulate. Consulate Press Secretary Lada Tikhonova told the agency on 5 August, however, that the consulate's guards were not involved in the incident, which took place on a day the consulate was closed and the building is guarded by the Sverdlovsk Oblast department on guarding diplomatic missions.

Osipova said the guards demanded that they stop shooting film, took away their phones and a tape recorder, and then locked them in the consulate. Then the guards called the police, who took them to Yekaterinburg's Lenin Raion administration. The journalists are going to appeal to the oblast prosecutor's office to file charges.

Ulyanovsk's Shamanov Meets With Tadzhuddin
Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Shamanov met with Central Muslim Religious Board head Talgat Tadzhuddin to discuss problems of the local regional Muslim Religious Board, reported on 7 August. Commenting on the split within the local Muslim community, the two men expressed hope that tensions between Muslims in the oblast will be overcome. Shamanov praised the contribution of the Tatar National Cultural Autonomy to the oblast's development. Tadzhuddin also praised the oblast administration and Shamanov personally for his considered approach to the problems of religions and constant concern for the spiritual and moral revival of peoples.

RFE/RL's Ulyanovsk correspondent reported on 8 August that the Ulyanovsk leadership appealed to Tadzhuddin to replace controversial oblast mufti Ayup Deberdeev. Following the meeting with Shamanov during which the governor said he would not like to participate in appointing the mufti, Tadzhuddin met with Deberdeev's opponents to discuss the issue. According to a survey conducted by the local Tatar "Omet" newspaper in the Tatar-populated Iske Kulatka Raion, raion citizens named two possible candidates for mufti -- Ulyanovsk Oblast's current unofficial mufti Fatykh Aliullov and Samara's Jemig mosque imam Ilshat Safin.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova