Accessibility links

Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 18, 2002

18 October 2002
Rakhimov Says Liquidation Of Post Of President To Contribute To Interethnic Harmony In Bashkortostan
Switching to a parliamentary republic is necessary to solve the nationality issue, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said at a meeting of the Constitutional Assembly on 16 October, Bashinform reported the same day. He said that on the threshold of presidential elections "some people in the fight for the presidential post are quite willing to use obscene and even illegal methods of attracting the electorate, methods based on insulting the dignity of certain nations, humiliation of national feelings, and rousing interethnic discord."

Rakhimov said he believes the abolishment of the institute of presidency "will dampen the ardor of those who seek to take over the highest post by artificially sharpening the nationality issue in society." He said that "losing interethnic stability is similar to death" for the republic. And if the upcoming presidential elections can worsen the situation in the society, "we should rather abolish the post of president and thus exclude even the possibility for negative consequences," Rakhimov added.

Tatar Official Comments On Problems In Tatar-Bashkir Relations
In an article published in "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 10 October, Tatar presidential adviser Rafael Khekimov said a certain tension in Tatar-Bashkir relations existed at the level of political elites in the past, and it grew when Tatar was not declared a state language in Bashkortostan, even though there are more Tatars in Bashkortostan than Bashkirs. The current census has sharpened the issue of the Bashkirization of Tatars, Khekimov said, since the Bashkir leadership does not even hide that it is seeking to make the number of Bashkirs bigger than that of Tatars. The Congress of Bashkirs passed several documents to promote an increase in the number of Bashkirs in the republic and outside it on the account of Tatars. The most simple way is to turn Tipters, Christian Tatars, and Mishers into Bashkirs, or at least into non-Tatars. Then, Tatars are forced to identify themselves as Bashkirs. In addition, authorities threaten that if Bashkirs are not a majority in the republic, then the republic will be liquidated, Khekimov said.

Khekimov suggested that those representatives of the Bashkir intelligentsia who appealed recently to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev "compose a parallel appeal to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov proposing to declare Tatar a state language" in Bashkortostan. Khekimov said the Bashkir applicants should do this to demonstrate in practice that Tatars and Bashkirs "have always been faithful supporters of each other," as they wrote in the mentioned appeal to Shaimiev. Khekimov also said the lack of Bashkir schools in Tatarstan cannot be a grounds for closing Tatar schools in Bashkortostan, since 21,000 Bashkirs dispersed in Tatarstan cannot be compared to 1.2 million Tatars living in communities in Bashkortostan and an additional 300,000 Tatar-speaking Bashkirs in the republic.

More Reports Of Census Violations In Bashkortostan
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" listed on 17 October the falsification methods used in the census in Bashkortostan, among them filling in blanks with pencils, marking data in notebooks, leaving the "nationality" entry empty, and persuading residents to choose the "Bashkir" identity.

An RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 14 October that in Chaqmagysh Raion, census takers filed data in ordinary notebooks, not on census forms. In Oktyabrskii, there were cases where blanks were filled in with pencils, not with pens. In Sterletamaq, census takers pushed residents to identify themselves as Bashkirs, arguing that it was necessary for maintaining Bashkortostan's sovereignty.

Fenize Gyimadieva told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 14 October that census takers registered her brothers and sisters living in Ishimbai Raion's Ehmet village as Bashkirs, saying, "Since you live in Bashkortostan, you are all Bashkirs." Gyimadieva said, "The entire Tatar village was made a Bashkir one."

Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Sharan Raion leader Fail Ekhmetshin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 14 October that census takers were ordered not to ask people's ethnic identity and not to fill in the "nationality" entry, in which "Bashkir" is then filled. Ekhmetshin said raion authorities threatened people that if they did not identify themselves as Bashkirs, their children would be unable to enter even a professional school in the raion and they wouldn't be paid due subsidies. Ekhmetshin said interior bodies are also taking part in the anti-Tatar campaign and pursue Tatar activists and hinder their visits to Tatar raions.

Bashkortostan's Tatar National Cultural Autonomy deputy head Elfir Saqaev was detained in Qyiga Raion by police and questioned for three hours, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 13 October. Policemen asked Saqaev about what he had been doing. Saqaev was visiting Tatar schools in Qyiga Raion and delivering primers to them.

Enfis Seibekov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 14 October that in Baltach Raion, census takers did not ask people's ethnic identity but only native language and left the "nationality" entry empty.

TIU in Belebei Chairman Mejit Kerimov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 16 October that census takers visiting him on 13 October tried to fill in census blanks with pencils. Kerimov said he refused to answer and appealed the next day to the raion prosecutor's office.

Philologist 'Forgot' Russian Language To Protest Division Of Tatars In Census
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 16 October, professor Sufiyan Safuanov, the Tatar-language and -literature department head at the Bashkir Pedagogical University, said he responded to the census questionnaire that he does not know the Russian language, though in fact he knows it. Safuanov said he did this to preserve his native Tatar language and to protest attempts to divide Tatars into several ethnic groups in the census.

Bashkir Official Promotes Teaching Bashkir In Russian Regions
Bashkir Deputy Education Minister Mindibai Yulmokhemmetov sharply criticized the situation regarding teaching the Bashkir language outside Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 14 October. Yulmokhemmetov said secondary-school curriculums in federation subjects with Bashkir communities provide only one hour a week for teaching Bashkir, two or three times less than for foreign languages, a state he called "humiliating." Meanwhile, Bashkortostan has 15 agreements with Russian entities in the educational sector aimed at the development of Bashkir nationality education outside the republic, where 40 percent of Bashkirs live.

Hungarian Scholar Commemorated In Ufa
A memorial plaque was opened on 14 October in Ufa at the initiative of the Bashkir and Hungarian governments to honor Hungarian specialist in Turkic philology Jozef Torma, RosBalt reported the same day citing the Bashkir Industry, Foreign Relations and Trade Ministry. A Hungarian delegation led by the head of the consul department of the Hungarian Embassy in Russia, Imre Laslotski, was in attendance. In the 1970s, Torma was a postgraduate at Bashkir State University. In the 1990s, he was Hungary's first ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Government To Look For Money To Resettle Residents Of Radiation-Polluted Chelyabinsk Village
Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin urged the development of proposals on insertion in the federal budget of a special line to finance the moving and rehabilitation of the residents of the village of Tatarskaya Karabolka and other residential areas polluted by radiation in Chelyabinsk Oblast (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 11 October 2002), Ural-Press-Inform reported on 16 October citing Yabloko's Chelyabinsk Oblast press service. Kudrin was responding to the appeal by Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin (Yabloko). The government is to make its proposals on the issue on 18 October during a hearing on the 2003 budget in the Duma, the agency said.

Nizhnii Duma Dismisses Speaker
The Nizhnii Novgorod City Duma impeached its speaker, Sergei Abyshev, by 23 votes out of 31 on 16 October, "Nizhegorodskie novosti" reported the same day. Abyshev was accused of manipulation during the adoption of decisions in the duma, embezzlement, irresponsible position on budget issues, tactless statements in the media that defamed the status of a deputy, and other charges. Abyshev was a member of the team of former Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Yurii Lebedev. Deputies elected Ivan Karnilin as the new duma speaker.

Wife Of Murdered Newspaper Editor In Sverdlovsk Oblast Ends Publication Due To Threats
"Novyi Reft" Editor in Chief Tatyana Markevich told a press conference in Yekaterinburg on 15 October that she will close the newspaper and leave the village of Reftinskii because of the constant threats she receives, "Novyi region" reported the same day. Markevich said unknown people tried on 9 October night to set fire to the door of her apartment and threw a dumbbell with a threatening note through the window. Her husband, Eduard Markevich, the newspaper's previous editor in chief, was shot in September 2001, but no suspects have been found.

The editor in chief of "Vechernii Asbest," told the same press conference that law enforcement representatives repeatedly told him that the Markevich murder won't be investigated, since the person who contracted it is known, but he will hush up everything. Tatyana Markevich said just before the murder, Eduard had been collecting compromising materials about one influential resident of the village, but she refused to name him, saying she has no proof of his guilt.

Liberal Russia's Tyumen Branch Backs Berezovskii
The branch of the Liberal Russia party in Tyumen protested the decision by the party's political council to expel party co-Chairman Boris Berezovskii, reported on 15 October citing The Tyumen branch appealed to the party's regional and local bodies, saying the ouster of Berezovskii "causes bewilderment and anxiety." Berezovskii was expelled for his interview with "Zavtra," in which he promoted the idea of cooperation with anyone who opposes the Putin regime. The statement authors said, "If anyone did not enjoy Berezovskii's theses, that should only become a reason for a discussion, not for sanctions." Tyumen party members sharply criticized the fact that the party leaders "did not explain which clause of the Party Charter [Berezovskii] violated, what was the political harm for the party, and how to explain the speed with which Berezovskii was expelled." The Tyumen branch said Berezovskii is "the person who developed the party's ideology and made the largest financial contributions to the organization." Recently, a similar appeal was issued by Liberal Russia's Bashkir branch (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 October 2002).

Census Data Hashed Up
The deputy chairwoman of the Tyumen Oblast State Statistics Committee, Vera Markova, said the committee received a recommendation from Moscow not to inform the media about the number and percentage of those who have been registered in the census, Tyumenskaya liniya agency reported on 15 October. A corresponding document received by the local committee was signed by federal State Statistics Committee Chairman Vladimir Sokolin. Markova said the figures reported by census takers are preliminary and have to be checked, while publication of unchecked data could misinform people. Before the census, the State Statistics Committee called on the media for active cooperation, the agency said.

One Deserter A Day In Volga-Ural Military District
At least one serviceman deserts every day from the Volga-Ural Military District troops, "Novyi region" reported on 14 October. According to the district military prosecutors' office, 326 soldiers have left their units this year. In 10 cases, deserters took arms and ammunition for them, and in five cases crimes were committed using those arms. District press service head Colonel Igor Budykin told the agency that psychologists and teachers now work with servicemen to prevent desertions. As a whole, however, Budykin said, "for a normal man conditions in the army are more than comfortable."

Trade Unions Protest Back Wages, Rising Prices
Some 15,000 workers took part in Nizhnii Novgorod in a nationwide action by trade unions against delays in wage payments and price increases for communal services on 17 October, Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported the same day citing the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Trade Unions Council. Some 30,000 people joined the action in Chelyabinsk Oblast, 6,000-7,000 of them in Chelyabinsk, Ural-Press-Inform reported the same day. The Kurgan Oblast Trade Unions Federation told Uralinformbureau that 4,000 its representatives staged a meeting in Kurgan. In Yekaterinburg, 2,500 residents took part in the action, according to local law enforcement bodies cited by Region-Inform on 17 October.

In all, 9 million people participated in demonstrations throughout Russia organized by the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) and the Unified Russia party, FNPR leader Mikhail Shmakov told Interfax on 17 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova