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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 25, 2002

25 October 2002
Tatarstan's Public Figures Comment On Possible Solution To Moscow Situation
"Vostochnii Ekspress" weekly on 25 October published the personal reaction of Tatarstan's public figures to the tragic developments in Moscow. Tatar Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Vaida told the paper that in his opinion, "negotiations were the only possible way out of the problem, because since the terrorists didn't blow up the building it means that they are ready for talks.... Nevertheless, with such a number of hostages and the bandits, it will be impossible not to have any losses and their number depends on the professionalism of those storming the building. I still hope that those directing this operation will do everything possible not to allow bloodshed."

Rober Sadyikov, head of the ideology department of the Tatar branch of the Communist Party, said in his interview that if he was in charge, he would "let the terrorists have [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and other people who began this war [in Chechnya], then I would give them [Interior Minister Boris] Gryzlov and [Federal Security Service chief Nikolai] Patrushev. In this situation when [the hostages] can be blasted at any moment, these people are absolutely useless and helpless. I think that this situation will be finished with great consequences. This hostage taking showed the lack of the current government's talent. This government is a joke." Sadyikov is also a retired Russian Army colonel.

Ivan Grachev, Russian State Duma deputy representing Tatarstan, said: "The situation can be solved by immediately collecting the Chechen community in Russia, including its criminal part, which finances the terrorists, and demand them to stop this disorder. Otherwise there will be storming and victims. We need to clearly and vividly express the position of force in Chechnya, only the use of force will help against the terrorism, separatism, and everything else."

Waliulla Yaqub, deputy chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, said that during the negotiation process, authorities should consider the hostages' interests and their safety a priority.

Pavel Sigal, head of the Union of Rightist Forces executive committee in Tatarstan, emphasized in his statement that only negotiations will solve this problem and worldwide practice proves so. "I was astonished that 30 armed militants in camouflage were able to travel in Moscow, where groups of militia officers check everybody's passports. But they are really doing it to collect bribes."

Shaimiev Comments On Future Local Self-Government Reform
Commenting on the draft law on local self-government discussed by the 23 October session of the Russian State Council in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 October 2002), Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said that his government deliberately abstained from transition to the system of self-government at the regional and municipal level, "not to discredit this most civilized and most democratic system of power." He said that after the law takes force in 2005, the proportion of tax revenues transferred by regions to Moscow will decrease from its current 60 percent to 40 percent to financially support the local self-governments. In Shamiev's words, introduction of the new law will require "enormous preparation work."

Russian Leader Issues Document On Practical Measures After Meeting With Tatar Congress Delegates
Russian President Putin endorsed a list of instructions to the Russian prime minister, media minister, minister of nationalities affairs, and education minister, summing up the results of his 30 August meeting with the delegates of the World Tatar Congress in Kazan, Intertat reported on 23 October (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 September 2002). The document stipulates the creation of regular Tatar programming on Russian state Kultura TV and the opening of a Tatar national and cultural center in Moscow. It also requested the Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov to "consider the issue of amending the Russian State Ethnic Policies Concept, taking into consideration the changes, which took place after its adoption" in 1996. Other instructions reportedly include the launch of various ethnic programming at Kultura TV channel and inclusion of ethnic-language teaching in the national education system.

Paper Says Kazan City Budget For 2003 Facing Sequester
Radical changes in the republican budget system caused by the federal tax reform was implemented in 2002 "will cause the Kazan city government to reduce next year's expenditures by 2.6 billion rubles ($81.76 million)," "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote on 22 October. The republic's government reportedly reacted to Moscow's takeover of much of its tax revenues by claiming the taxes previously meant for the Kazan city budget (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 October 2002).

For example, instead of the former 18 percent of profit-tax revenues in 2003 the city administration will get only 2 percent, while the city's revenues from income and property taxes will be reduced by 30 and 50 percent, respectively. As a result, Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov told the weekly meeting of city officials on 20 October that the republic's government will have to sponsor the renovation of schools, hospitals, and apartment blocks.

Rifnur Suleimanov, head of the city administration's financial department, told the same meeting that the new city budget "will barely be sufficient for paying the salaries to state employees, such as teachers and doctors, while housing maintenance services are expected to get only 6.5 percent of necessary funds."

Audit Chamber Targets KamAZ
The Russian Audit Chamber charged the KamAZ automotive concern with fines for failing to reimburse the state industrial mobilization reserve, used by the automotive giant after the 1993 fire which devastated many of its production facilities, the KamAZ press service said on 21 October. However in late 2001, the company had already converted the 370.2 million-ruble ($11.7 million) mobilization reserve debt into its shares, which were added to the federal government's share in the firm. According to the press service, the draft federal budget for 2003 already contained a provision saying that fines for untimely debt repayment were taken from KamAZ and their market competitors inspired the abovementioned actions of the Accounting Chamber.

Tatar Diplomat Warns Of Environmental Effect Of Possible Strike Against Iraq
Timur Akulov, Tatar presidential advisor on international issues, in an interview with Intertat news agency on 23 October commented on the possible environmental aftermath of military strikes against Iraq. He said that "many of those urging to bomb Iraq are forgetting about the consequences of Operation Desert Storm held by the U.S. and its allies against the Iraqi Army in Kuwait.... Retreating under strikes by allied forces, the Iraqi military set several dozen oil wells on fire, which became an ecological disaster not only for the Persian Gulf region but also for Europe."

Tatneft Asks For Flexible Electricity Tariffs
Aleksandr Yevseev, Tatneft's chief energy expert, told Tatar-Inform on 24 October that his company is considering the possibility of purchasing electricity from the federal wholesale market for electricity, "in case Tatarstan's electricity pricing system does not become more flexible." Tatneft reportedly consumes some 20 percent of power produced in the republic, maintaining 18,000 kilometers of power supply cables, 322 power distribution stations, and 16,000 electricity transformers at it own cost, but these expenses do not affect the electricity tariffs for the oil producer.

Turkish Tutors Invited To Kazan Islamic University
Ismail Sefa Yujeer, the Turkish consul-general in Kazan, visited the Islamic University in Kazan on 24 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. There he met the Tatar Muslim leader and university rector Gosman Iskhaqov, who asked for the consul's assistance in sending his country's doctors of Sharia (Islamic law) sciences to teach in Kazan. Yujeer reportedly pledged his assistance.

German Museum Opens New Exposition Devoted To Tatar Poet
Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva joined the opening ceremony of the renewed special exposition devoted to the Tatar poet Musa Celil in Berlin's Museum of Resistance to Fascism on 23 October. Celil was killed in German captivity during World War II, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 October.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets With State Council, President Putin
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov took part on 23 October in a meeting of the Russian State Council in Moscow that was devoted to the reform of local self-government in the country, the presidential press service reported the next day. Rakhimov discussed during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin the issues of socioeconomic development and constitutional reform. Rakhimov also discussed with officials from the Russian presidential administration a program for the republic's socioeconomic development until 2006, the presidential press service reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 October 2002).

Paper: Officials Burn Copies Of Tatar Journal
Ten thousand copies of the September issue of the Tatar journal "Miras," which was devoted to Tatar-Bashkir relations and contained articles by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and the president of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences, Mansur Khesenov, were distributed in Bashkortostan prior to the Russian census earlier this month, "Zvezda povolzhya" reported on 24 October. The weekly cited an anonymous source as claiming that Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister Khelef Ishmoratov was not happy with the contents of the journal and ordered the heads of local administrations to remove it from circulation. The source added that a number of administration heads went about fulfilling this order zealously, with some of them even collecting and burning copies of the journal.

Tatarstan Kept Out Of The Running For Bashkir Refineries
Tatarstan is noticeably absent from a list of possible buyers of Bashkir oil refineries, despite the fact that a joint project on the integration of the republics' oil-production and oil-processing sectors that has been discussed for the past five years is expected to be profitable for both sides, "Ekspert-Ural" reported on 21 October. The weekly said the reason for the absence of Tatarstan was the negative attitude of Ural Rakhimov, President Murtaza Rakhimov's son, toward the project.

In an interview published in the same edition of the weekly, however, President Rakhimov said he was forced to look for external investment for the development of the Bashkir Fuel Company and Bashneftekhim because the republic's oil reserves are exhausted and its refineries are underused.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Muslim Leaders Comment On Moscow Hostage Crisis
The mufti of the Volga region's Muslim Religious Board, Moqeddes Bibarsov, issued a statement saying that the monstrous terrorist act of taking hundreds of peaceful people hostage and comments on national and religious identity of the hostage takers shocked the Muslim community of the region, reported on 24 October. Bibarsov said the terrorist act should be prosecuted decisively since taking innocent people hostage contradicts moral norms and beliefs of Muslims. Bibarsov added, however, that the crisis was also partly a result of the anti-Islamic propaganda in the mass media and Islamophobia spread in society. An example of this is a series of publications titled "If I were bin Laden" in "Izvestiya," Bibarsov said. The Muslim Religious Board of the Volga region calls for freeing the hostages, peaceful solution of the Chechen issue, and stoppage of the anti-Islamic propaganda in the media, Bibarsov said.

The chairman of the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Muslim Religious Board, Umar Idrisov, on 24 October stated his complete condemnation of the actions of extremists irrespective of their ethnic or religious identity, NTA Privolzhe reported the same day. Idrisov said the action of extremists in Moscow should not be equated with Islamic jihad. "We again face the incorrect use of the 'Islamic factor' label," Idrisov said, adding that Islam never demanded that its followers die senselessly. He opposed attempts to attach a religious meaning to the event in Moscow.

Azat Akhiyarov, an official from the Tyumen Oblast Muslim Religious Board, said on 24 October that the 23 October terrorist act in Moscow has deep routes and it was committed to attract attention to the Chechen conflict, reported on 24 October. Akhiyarov said the war in Chechnya that has gone on for eight years has killed numerous peoples, including Muslims.

Perm Oblast Mufti Mokhemmetgali Khuzin said on 24 October that problems of growing religious and political extremism that have not been resolved for years and indulgence to the West's caprices resulted in a tragedy of a state-scale, reported on the same day. The Moscow hostage situation will only "sharpen social, economic, interethnic and interconfessional tension," Khuzin said.

Marii El President Defends His Honor, Dignity In Court
The Yoshkar-Ola city court has postponed until 1 November a hearing on a suit by Marii El President Leonid Markelov against Sergei Shcheglov and Vladimir Maltsev, editors in chief of "Molodezhnyi kurer" and "Dobre sosedi," respectively, and Volzhsk Mayor Nikolai Svistunov, in which Markelov sought to defend his honor and dignity, reported on 23 October citing "Privolzhe." In an interview in "Molodezhnyi kurer" on 15 August, Svistunov claimed that Markelov in 1995, when he was one of the founders of the Flagman company, took possession of a 3 billion-ruble credit in the Marii El bank of the Sberbank's Yoshkar-Ola department. The money, as the paper reported, "was allocated for Markelov's election to the State Duma from Zhirinovskii's party," while "the criminal case...filed on the fact was closed." "Dobre sosedi" reprinted the interview on 11 September. Markelov in his appeal demanded that untrue information be denied and Shcheglov repay him 1,000 rubles ($31.5), Maltsev 50,000 rubles ($1,577), and Svistunov 10,000 rubles to compensate for moral damages. The hearing was postponed due to the absence of Svistunov, who reportedly was not informed about the trial.

Chechen Community Leader Injured In Khanty-Mansi Okrug
The leader of the Chechen diaspora in Nefteyugansk of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Doku Abakerov, was injured by an explosion on 18 October, reported the same day. A handmade explosive device supposedly filled with nails blew up when Abakerov opened the door of a building in which his apartment is located. He was hospitalized and is in serious condition.

Aviastar Signs Agreement To Produce 46 Tu-204s
Ilyushin Finans Ko General Director Aleksandr Rubtsov and Aviastar-SP General Director Viktor Mikhailov signed on 22 October in Moscow a general agreement on production of 46 Tu-204 jets, NTA Privolzhe reported on 24 October.

Fund Of Financial Support For Regions Distributes Money For 2003
Five regions in the Volga Federal District, including Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and the Perm, Samara, and Orenburg oblasts, won't receive any subsidies from the federal fund for financial support of federation subjects next year, Nizhnii Novgorod Telegraph Agency reported on 22 October. Among other regions, Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast will receive 640 million rubles ($20.2 million), Saratov Oblast 1.9 billion rubles ($60 million), Ulyanovsk Oblast 1.3 billion rubles ($41 million), Kirov Oblast 2.2 billion rubles ($69.4 million), Penza Oblast 3.3 billion rubles ($104 million), the Republic of Marii El 2 billion rubles ($63 million), Mordovia 2 billion rubles, Udmurtia 158 million rubles ($5 million), and Chavashia 2.8 billion rubles ($88.3 million). Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told reporters on 22 October that the total volume of transfers provided for federation entities from the fund will grow next year by 17 percent to some 173 billion rubles ($5.5 billion).

Atomic Energy Ministry To Open Closed Cities In Urals
Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said during his visit to the Urals that all closed territorial entities in the region will be soon opened because of the lack of money to maintain their social network, "Novyi Region" reported on 21 October. Rumyantsev said the ministry will no longer be able to provide all its enterprises with orders and also feed entire cities. Currently there are five closed cities in the Urals, including Lesnoi and Novouralsk in Sverdlovsk Oblast and Ozersk and Snezhinsk in Chelyabinsk Oblast. Sergei Shchekalev, the deputy director in charge of security of the Lesnoi Uralskii Elektrokhimpribor, told the agency that if opened, "atomic cities," which are now to some extent protected from terrorist acts, will instantly become centers of criminal attention.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova