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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 29, 2001

29 June 2001
State Council Defends Tatarstan's Interests in Harmonization Process
Tatarstan State Council endorsed 82 draft bills during its sessions on 27-28 June 2001, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported. Many of these measures were part of the harmonization process, but the deputies also passed laws which defend the republic against federal demands, including on pensions. The State Council upheld the proposal of deputy and World Tatar Congress Executive Committee chairman Indus Tahirov who offered to let the republican Constitution Court consider the suits against Tatar Constitution according to the principles of both federal and international law. At the closing session on 28 June, State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin said that "our parliament persistently resumed its work for establishing the principles of true federalism in Russia."

President Confirms that Tatarstan Constitution to Be Amended
At a closed door session of government officials on 27 June, President Mintimer Shaimiev said that further rearrangements should be made to the republic's Constitution and governmental staff, �in order for Russia to develop as a federal state,� the presidential press service reported.

KamAZ To Cut Ten Percent of Workers
"Vostochniy Ekspress" on 29 June reported that KamAZ plans to cut ten percent of its employees in order to try to make the firm profitable again. Top managers are also slated to be fired.

Kazan Weekly Says Putin Still Has a Chance to Build Democracy
"Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 28 June that Russian President Putin �needed [president] Shaimiev in order to eliminate contradictions� between his declarations of democratic reforms and actual policies aimed on weakening the regions. The weekly said that �if Russian president is guided by the empire-like instincts and thus infringes on the interests of Russia�s peoples, he will inevitably loose.�

Regional Governments Said Hiding Revenues
Sergei Valentei, a russian scholar, said in Kazan on 22 June that republic governments are hiding some $15 billion in revenues and that the situation could be improved by merging the federal subjects into larger and more easily controlled units.

Shaimiev Says Moscow Should Be More Supportive of Aircraft Industry
President Shaimiev told "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" on 23 June that the Russian government should provide more assistance to the domestic aircraft industries, because �the recent protest activities of aircraft constructors reflected a structural crisis dating back to several years ago.�

Kazan Gets IBRD Loan...
Igor Privedentsev, the Russian representative of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 28 June that Tatarstan�s capital had won the contest for $9,1 million IBRD loan to rebuild the city�s downtown area.

...While EBRD Becomes Major Foreign Shareholder of KamAZ
The Russian federal stocks commission announced on 28 June that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have agreed to accept 6.5 percent of the shares in KamAZ in exchange for the company's debts to the bank.

Two Senior City Officials Found Guilty of Bribery
Chief Solicitor of Kazan city administration Ravil Sabirzyanov and city Reconstruction Board chief Alexander Ugarov were convicted of bribery but their sentences were suspended, "Novaya Vecherka" reported on 27 June.

Tatar Diasporas Hold Sabantuy Celebrations
About 50,000 Tatars living in Krasnoyarsk kray will hold the traditional Sabantuy holiday celebrations on 30 June, Tatarinform reported. Moscow Tatar community also plans to maintain the ancient tradition by holding the annual Sabantuy on 1 July in Sokolniky Park.

Tatarstan�s Oil Company Gets Higher International Rating
Standard & Poor's rating agency has marked up the credit rating of Tatneft oil company, Tatarstan's media reported on 28 June.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Kirienko Says Russian Society Not Divided on Ethnic Lines
Sergei Kirienko, presidential envoy to the Volga district, told �Vedomosti� on 25 June that �the Russian society had become much more stable and was not divided along ethnic or religious identity lines.� He said that presidents of national republics represent their federation subjects but not their nations. Thus, the presidents of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan do not represent all Tatars and Bashkirs. In other comments, Kirienko said that two legal acts of 130 originally are still to be harmonized in Bashkortostan and seven of 150 originally in Tatarstan. He also said that the Volga district prosecutors� bodies had performed �brilliant work.�

Rakhimov Sees Infrastructure Wearing Out
President Murtaza Rakhimov said that the basic infrastructure of the country is wearing out and that more funds must be devoted to preventing problems over the next five years, "Ekspert" reported on 25 June.

Middle Volga Seen as Most Dynamic Linguistically and Culturally
Vladimir Neroznak, the director of the CIS and Baltic countries languages and cultures center of the European Charter, said on 22 June that the Volga region is the area of the most dynamic ethno-cultural and language interaction of Russia�s North Eurasian part and that close ethnic and language ties of Tatars and Bashkirs is a peculiarity of the region, Bashinform reported.

Ankara Promotes Business, Educational Cooperation With Ufa
Turkish officials and businessmen visiting Ufa met with their Bashkir counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation, Bashinform reported on 25 June. The delegation also plans to take part in graduation ceremonies in Bashkir-Turkish lyceums throughout the republic.

Ufa Needs New Buses
Anatoly Kantsefarov, the head of the Ufa administration transport board, said on 22 June that all buses in the republic�s capital are worn out and need to be replaced. On 25 June, Bashavtotrans chiefs agreed to purchase 50 PAZ buses.

Prison Population Up 5 Percent
The Justice Ministry board in Bashkortostan on 25 June said that there are 21,000 prisoners currently in the republic, some 1,000 more than six months earlier, Bashinform reported.

More Drug Users among Young
The Bashkir anti-drug center on 25 June said that the number of drug addicts among children and teenagers has doubled to 1,000 over the last three months and now totals 18 percent of the republic's total, Bashinform reported.

Unemployment Falls
The Ufa labor exchange on 25 June said that the unemployment rate had fallen in the republic from 4.5 to 1.2 percent during the past three years, Bashinform reported.

Consumers� Cooperative Societies Face Troubles
Nail Dautov, the Bashpotrebsoyuz head, said on 25 June that consumers� cooperative societies currently are in financial crisis, the presidential press service reported. Prime Minister Rafail Baidavletov said that the body must work up more detailed proposals before getting any government help.

Great Patriotic War Anniversary Marked in Ufa
The Ufa district administration held civil funeral rites to mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic war, Bashinform reported.

Authorities Concerned About Private Medical Services
The Ufa administration official in charge of healthcare on 25 June said that he could say �nothing positive� about the activity of privately owned clinics and independent doctors, Bashinform reported. He said that 40 percent of such bodies do not meet existing sanitation requirements.

Sverdlovsk Bashkirs Hold Congress
Sverdlovsk Bashkirs at their second oblast congress elected Nafisa Tyumentseva, the manager of the Hotel Eurasia, to be the congress executive committee chairwoman, Bashinform reported on 26 June. A governmental delegation from Bashkortostan took part in the forum.

Talgat Tadjutdin Visits Khanty-Mansi Okrug
Supreme Mufti of the Russian Muslims Central Religious Board Talgat Tadjutdin on 27 June visited a mosque under construction in Surgut, Samotlor-ekspress reported.

Restrictions on Tatar Language Spark Protests
"Obshchaya gazeta" on 14-20 June wrote that the Bashkortostan language law has generated protests by republic Tatars. The republic's Tatars noted that the number of Tatar-language schools is falling and that one must be a Bashkir to enter local higher educational institutions.

Construction of Bashkir Nuclear Power Plant Sparks Protests
The Tatarstan Anti-Nuclear Society on 27 June began collecting signatures against the construction of the Bashkir nuclear power station, Tatar-inform reported. The organization chairman Albert Garapov told the news agency that the decision to build the plant reflected the fact that the president of the Bashkir Academy of Sciences is the brother of the Russian deputy nuclear power engineering minister.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chechen War Victims Memorialized in Marii El
A memorial marker has been laid in Yoshkar-Ola to commemorate those who died in Chechnya, reported. Some 2,000 republic residents have taken part in the Chechen campaigns, 45 of whom died and 55 injured.

New Prosecutor Nominated in Mordovia
Mordovia�s State Assembly agreed to the appointment of Sergei Kudeneev, previously the prosecutor in the Jewish autonomous oblast prosecutor, reported on 22 June.

Mordovian Radio Set Up in Orenburg
The first Mordovian radio station outside Mordovia began broadcasting in Orenburg oblast where several tens of thousands of Mordovians reside, Rosbalt reported on 26 June. The project is promoted by the Buguruslan Mordovian cultural center and is being financed by the municipal budget. The station will issue monthly transmission in two Mordovian languages, Erzya and Moksha.

Orthodox Church in Latyshev�s Residence
Archbishop Vikentii of Yekaterinburg on 22 June met with Presidential Envoy to the Ural District Petr Latyshev to discuss construction of Orthodox church on the territory of envoy�s future residence, Region-Inform reported. Latyshev said that the church "must show people the priorities of the state as well as the role of Orthodoxy in the life of society."

Unity Backs Sklyarov
The Unity political council presidium on 26 June in Moscow called for reelection of Ivan Sklyarov as Nizhny Novgorod oblast Governor, Nizhny Novgorod telegraph agency reported.

Court Confirms CEC Refusal To Register Lebedev
The Nizhny Novgorod oblast court has dismissed a suit by city mayor Yuri Lebedev protesting the refusal by the oblast electoral commission to register him as a candidate for oblast governor, reported on 26 June. Prosecutor Natalya Zimina said at the hearing that the court had proved that Lebedev had abused power while collecting signatures. Lebedev said �the court confirmed the decision that had been made at the cabinets of Sergei Kirienko and Ivan Sklyarov� and that �strong pressure was made on the court and the judge.�

Former Defense Minister Unhappy With Putin�s Policies
Igor Rodionov, a Duma deputy (KPRF) and Central military servicemen trade unions committee chairman, on 26 June said in Nizhny Novgorod that �President Vladimir Putin does currently too little for the country and supports corrupted officials.�

New Mosque Opens In Nizhny
Presidential envoy to the Volga district Sergei Kirienko and Nizhny Novgorod oblast Governor Ivan Sklyarov took part in the ceremony of opening the Tauba mosque in Nizhny Novgorod, RIA-novosti reported on 24 June. Kirienko said that the oblast was always known by its traditions of peaceful coexistence of Orthodoxy and Islam. Mufti of Nizhny Novgorod Umar Idrisov, Supreme Mufti of the Russian Muslims Central Religious Board Talgat Tadjutdin, Tatarstan�s Mufti Gusman Iskhakov, Nizhny Novgorod Jewish religious community leader Eduard Chaprak were in attendance. Participants have laid the cornerstone of a future madrasah.

VAZ, GM Create Joint Venture
AvtoVAZ, General Motors and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 27 June signed an agreement on setting up a joint venture on production of VAZ-2123 cars, reported. The three will invest $330 million in the project.

Samara Journalist Freed From Captivity
Samara prosecutor Aleksandr Yefremov on 27 June said that Samara RIO television company journalist Viktor Petrov had been freed in Chechnya after two years of captivity, ITAR-TASS reported.

Ayatskov Settles Debt With Gazprom
Saratov oblast Governor Dmitry Ayatskov and Gazprom head Aleksei Miller on 25 June agreed that the oblast will give the monopoly access to pipelines in exchange for debt, RBC reported.

SPS Regional Organization Set Up in Yekaterinburg
Pavel Krasheninnikov, the chairman of the Duma legislation committee, was elected a leader of the SPS in Sverdlovsk oblast at a meeting of the party�s regional organization, Ural Information Bureau reported on 23 June.

Yekaterinburg, Perm Human Rights Defenders Sign Agreement
The Yekaterinburg and Perm branches of Memorial agreed to join efforts on promotion of alternative military service, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 25 June.

State University to Provide Training in Orthodoxy
The Ural State Pedagogical University will begin training specialists in Orthodox theology, Region-Inform reported on 25 June.

Religious Scandal at Ural University
The Yekaterinburg archbishops board protested the display at the Ural State University of a placard featuring Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed drinking vodka together as "blasphemy", Region-Inform reported on 25 June. The Designers Union that organized the exhibit with the support of the Soros Fund to promote "tolerance".

Tyumen Governor Visits Synagogue
Tyumen Governor Sergei Sobyanin on 26 June visited that city's synagogue, reported. He told religious leaders that he will help rebuild the synagogue and also return property seized in Soviet times to Jewish groups.

Kremlin Official Comments On State Information Policy
Pavel Kudryavtsev, a presidential information board official, said in Izhevsk on 26 June that �the federal authorities had failed on the information during the first Chechen campaign and that more efforts were needed in that area during the current counter-terrorist operation." He also said that the press arrangements concerning the Kursk disaster had been inadequate.

Udmurt Parliament Adopts Law on State Languages
Natalya Smirnova, the Udmurtia Deputy National Policy Minister, told the European Charter seminar in Ufa that the republic legislature has passed the law on state languages on the first reading, Bashinform reported on 22 June.

Gazprom Reduces Gas Deliveries to Ulyanovskenergo
Gazprom has cut by 50 percent gas deliveries to Ulyanovskenergo, VolgaInform reported on 22 June. The debt of Ulyanovskenergo now totals 4 billion rubles ($138.4 million).

New Head at Ulyanovsk Interior Board
Valery Lukin, previously the first deputy chairman of the Tomsk oblast interior board, was appointed a head of the Ulyanovsk oblast interior board, VolgaInform reported on 26 June.

Latyshev Says Importing Spent Nuclear Fuel Will be Profitable
Petr Latyshev, the presidential envoy to the Ural district, said on 25 June that importing spent nuclear fuel will provide money for the region, reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova