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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 14, 2001

14 December 2001
Russian Constitution Day Marked Quietly In Tatarstan
Reporting on the eighth anniversary of the Russian Constitution on 12 December, much of Tatarstan's media avoided noting that less than 10 percent of their voters showed up for a constitutional referendum in 1993. A huge majority boycotted the vote to show their loyalty to the previously adopted Tatarstan Constitution and the declaration of republic's sovereignty.

This year, both Tatar- and Russian-language media concentrated on the importance of the federal document, which for the first time in Russia's history declared human rights a priority.

Paper Slams Tatarstan Representative To Federation Council
The "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly on 14 December suggested that Tatarstan's leadership is unhappy with the work of the republic's representative to the Russian Federation Council, former Chally Mayor Rafgat Altinbaev. Altinbaev didn't propose a single draft law and didn't make a single speech before the assembly, the paper said. The paper accused Altinbaev of failing to "lobby for Tatarstan's interests," saying he preferred to take marching orders from the "Federation" group, which is not supported by President Mintimer Shaimiev.

Chally Mayor Forces 'Voluntary' Contribution Payment
Chally Mayor Rashid Khamadeev met industrial leaders on 12 December and effectively threatened them with reprisal if they did not contribute to the republic's ramshackle housing fund. Khamadeev urged them to pay or face "unexpected raids by the Tax Police" or other inspectors. The republic's off-budget ramshackle housing fund finances free apartments for residents in the oldest districts of Tatarstan's cities. The federal government pressured Tatar legislators to transform the former republican tax into a voluntary payment and the fund's revenues have slumped as a result.

Chally Official Challenges Criticism Of Bashkir Teaching
Responding to recent statements by Bashkortostan Education Ministry officials charging that children in Tatarstan's Bashkir community, especially in Chally, had no opportunity to study their native language, the Chally city administration official in charge for ethnic education told RFE/RL on 12 December that only 100 of over 700 Bashkir children attend the three Sunday schools to learn their people's language and history. Viner Kharisov said city school directors planned to open more Bashkir classes next year but added that no Bashkir parents have asked the city authorities for more Bashkir language lessons.

Writer Urges Mixed Households To Register 'Tatar' In Census
Tatar writer Rakhmay Khismatulla on 12 December publicly urged his countrymen living in mixed marriages to register their families as Tatars during the future national census "in order to pay tribute to their forefathers and preserve their nation from dispersal."

Education Ministry Official Says Bashkortostan Could Provide More Help To Local Tatar Learning
A delegation representing Tatarstan's Education Ministry and led by Deputy Minister Ilsur Khadiullin held a roundtable with their Bashkortostan counterparts during a recent visit to Ufa, RFE/RL reported on 9 December. According to reports of the event, Tatar is taught in over 1,200 schools in Bashkortostan, but there are problems with providing the classes with Tatar books because the republican government wants locally printed literature.

After the roundtable, Khadiullin told RFE/RL that in his opinion, "Bashkortostan's government should do more to enable more Tatar education for the local Tatar community." In his words, Bashkortostan's Education Ministry will encounter a similar situation to Tatarstan's in introducing Bashkir language in schools.

Kazan Official Says Tatar Getting Rejected For Business Affairs
Irek Arslanov, the head of the Ethnic Affairs Department in the Kazan city administration, told a meeting of the Kazan City Council and Tatarstan's State Council deputies on 11 December that, "Despite active efforts by Kazan and republican authorities for introducing Tatar courses for various-level officials, there was a strong trend toward rejecting this language in business affairs." He also said the republican branch of the federal Justice Ministry refused to register new companies bearing Tatar names.

Tatarstan's Communists Mark 10th Anniversary
Roughly 200 supporters of the Russian Communist Party chapter in Tatarstan gathered in the small, unheated conference hall of Kazan Electrotechnical School on 8 December to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their organization. In his opening speech, branch leader and Russian State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Saliy enthusiastically reiterated a familiar set of accusations against the existing Russian and Tatarstan governments, praised the prosperity of former Soviet Union, and blamed television "for depraving modern youth, which has no values." Saliy claimed that Communists enjoy wide support among Tatarstan's population and only "the wide-scale falsification by the ruling regime" of this year's presidential poll results prevented Communist Robert Sadikov from becoming the republic's leader.

During the event, party veterans received honorary diplomas and jubilee medals devoted to the 80th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution and Josef Stalin's 120th birthday.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Federal Inspector Not Responsive To Tatar Demands
Tatar public representatives have appealed several times to Chief Federal Inspector to Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov to protect Tatar rights in the republic but have received no response, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 9 December. Khamitov as well refused a request by a group of Tatars in Sterletamaq to open a Tatar secondary school on the grounds of one local school where Russian children also study.

...As Kazan Requests Ufa's Help Arranging Bashkir Teaching In Tatarstan
Tatarstan Deputy Education Minister Khadiullin told the same roundtable that there are 1,200 Tatar schools in Tatarstan, and 49.3 percent of Tatar children attend schools where instruction of different subjects is conducted in Tatar. He said 1,481 Bashkir schoolchildren live in Tatarstan, more than 700 of them in Chally. Khadiullin appealed to his Bashkortostan counterparts to help Tatarstan open Bashkir classes in Chally and teach Bashkir schoolchildren the Bashkir language.

Khadiullin told RFE/RL on 10 December that there are common problems in teaching the Tatar language in Bashkortostan and the Bashkir language in Tatarstan. Khadiullin said all students in Bashkortostan should study their native languages alongside state languages and called on Bashkortostan to provide conditions for all Tatar children to study Tatar.

Chally Authorities Plan To Open Bashkir Classes
The head of the National Education Department at Tatarstan's Chally Education Board, Vener Kharisov, told RFE/RL's Chally correspondent on 12 December that three Bashkir Sunday schools function in the city and roughly 100 Bashkir students from some 700 study their native language, history, and culture. Opening Bashkir classes is on the agenda in Chally secondary schools. Such a class is planned to open in 2002, Kharisov said; his department so far has received no appeals from Bashkir residents seeking to encourage assistance so their children can study Bashkir.

Gainutdin Outstrips Tadjuddin In Influence
The People's Voice public opinion center reported that the chairman of the Russian Muftis Council, Ravil Gainutdin, was rated 59th on the list of most-influential politicians in November. Gainutdin entered the top 100 for the first time. Meanwhile, Talgat Tadjuddin, the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, fell from the list, People's Voice said.

Tatar Youth Union Discusses Problems Afflicting Young People
Bashkortostan's Azatlyq Tatar Youth Union held a congress on unemployment, education, drug addiction, and AIDS issues on 7-8 December, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 10 December. Participants stressed a need for more union branches to boost moral education and fight alcoholism and drug adduction among youth. Zalia Khismatullina was reelected to chair the local chapter of the union.

Tatar Congress Members Plan To Check Census Results
The Executive Committee of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress on 7 December discussed preparations for the 2002 census and for the second congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars, planned for June-July 2002. The committee agreed to address a protest letter to the Russian government and the Duma against the alleged division of Tatars into six smaller groups in the census. Committee members pledged to take action to check future census results.

Youth Forum Participants Promote State Language Status For Tatar
Participants in the Tatar Youth Days on 8 December held a roundtable to discuss problems of the development of the Tatar culture, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 10 December. A Tatar language teacher from Sterlebash, Golshat Khairullina, said Tatar schools have just one textbook for every five students. Representatives from the Asqyn Raion said raion libraries did not receive any books from Tatarstan since late 1980s. They said local authority bodies register all newly born Tatar children as Bashkirs in their birth certificates. Participants adopted a resolution demanding to introduce quotas for Tatars to enter higher educational institutions and to announce Tatar a state language in Bashkortostan.

Bashkortostan Official Tells European Forum About Ufa's Fair National Policy
Deputy Prime Minister and Culture and National Policy Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov on 30 November-1 December took part in a conference on the Council of Europe's Regional and Minorities Languages Charter in the Netherlands, "Yeshlek" reported on 6 December. Ishmuratov told the forum that 113 peoples live in Bashkortostan and that the republic's authorities provide a fair national policy toward them. Ishmuratov told the paper that conference participants "could not believe it" when he told them that instruction in 15 languages is held in republican schools, while newspapers and magazines are published in eight languages. RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 9 December cited Ishmuratov as saying of the Frisian minority in the Netherlands that it is provided with 18 hours a day of radio and one hour of television broadcasts in their own language. He asked why it is that, in Bashkortostan, Tatars almost completely lack radio and TV in their native language.

Ufa Seeks To Boost Supply Of Tatar Textbooks...
A delegation from the Tatarstan Education Ministry headed by Deputy Minister Ilsur Khadiullin attended educational institutions in Ufa and held a roundtable with counterparts from Bashkortostan, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 10 December.

Bashkortostan's deputy education minister, Mindubai Elmokhemmetov, said republican authorities are paying growing attention to education in native languages. In the last school year, native language programs began in 206 schools -- the Tatar language in nine of them. Teaching Bashkir as a state language began in 170 schools. The Tatar language is taught in 1,230 schools in the republic, 960 of which have well-equipped Tatar language and literature shelves. Bashkortostan's deputy minister said the main obstacle for Tatar schools is the supply of textbooks with regional content; he added that the ministry is seeking to stop using Tatar textbooks provided by Tatarstan and develop its own Tatar textbooks. Elmokhemmetov said teaching Bashkir as a state language does not meet requirements, since only 42 percent of schoolchildren study it. In Tatarstan, he added, all students study the state languages.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Campaign Violations Alleged On Eve Of Chavash Presidential Elections
Russian Central Election Commission Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov criticized the Chavash Republic's electoral laws over what he considers an excessive restriction on candidates' electoral funds of just 300,000 rubles, reported on 11 December. He also said a local TV company broke the law by refusing to provide candidates with appropriate airtime or slots for free broadcasts.

Meanwhile, a group of Chavashia's presidential candidates and republican State Council deputies on 10 December appealed to Veshnyakov, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov to protest violations of electoral legislation by the presidential administration and executive authorities in Chavashia, Russian agencies reported. Presidential candidates General Stanislav Voronov, Igor Kashaev, and Valentin Shurchanov and several deputies reported excesses by Interior Ministry employees claiming to seize agitation materials or pursue and intimidate supporters of opposition candidates. published another open letter signed by more than 200 residents of the Chavash Republic on 10 December, protesting violations of electoral law by incumbent President Nikolai Fedorov. One candidate, General Voronov, on 8 December accused Chavash Interior Minister Vadim Antonov of illegal campaigning in Fedorov's favor.

The presidential elections are slated for 16 December.

AvtoVAZ Seeking Alternative To Russian Utility UES
AvtoVAZ Vice President Nikolai Lyachenkov said his company plans to stop purchasing energy from Samaraenergo, a regional branch of Russia's United Energy Systems (UES), because of its alleged plans to raise energy tariffs, "Samara segodnya" reported on 11 December. Lyachenkov said the Balakovo Nuclear Power Station in Saratov Oblast and Kazakh energy manufacturers could supply the plant.

Sverdlovsk Official Promotes Seven-Year Term For Russian President, Governors
The head of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Gubernatorial Information Department, Aleksandr Levin, told Region-Inform on 10 December that a four-year term is not enough for leaders of the federation or its territorial entities, adding that an optimum term is seven years. Apart from this, Levin said there are too many presidents of various types in Russia and stressed that there should be just one "president" in Russia. He suggested that leaders of federation members be called "governors."

Ulyanovsk City TV Channel Closed
The Ulyanovsk TV channel Reporter was shut down over debts it owes to a retransmission center, reported on 7 December. The retransmission facility is reportedly owed money by the ORT and RTR channels, too. Meanwhile, a meeting between Ulyanovsk administration leaders and representatives of TV companies and transmitters discussed measures to improve the quality of television broadcasting in the city, which is a subject of frequent criticism by residents.

Presidential Candidate Withdraws, Throws Support To Voronov
The head of the Russian Union of Afghanistan Veterans in the Chavash Republic, Igor Kashaev, withdrew from the presidential race and threw his support behind General Stanislav Voronov, reported. The agency called Kashaev's move "unexpected," since he was considered close to the incumbent president and Fedorov's staff supposed he would withdraw in favor of Fedorov. Instead, Kashaev sharply criticized Fedorov's activities and called the current electoral campaign "a complete outrage."

Tyumen Residents Protest Pressure On Journalists, Candidates
About 20 residents staged a meeting in Tyumen on 11 December to protest administrative pressure on journalists at local television channel Tyumen-Region and on two candidates for the Oblast Duma, Vyacheslav Sidorkin and Pavel Golovin, "Tyumenskaya linia" reported.

Ecologists Say Mayak Threatens Urals' Radiation Security
Ecologists told Uralinformbureau on 10 December that the Mayak company's activities represent a major threat to safety in the Ural region. The company is reported to have accumulated a massive quantity of radioactive waste stored in open reservoirs like Karachai Lake and the Techenskii Cascade alongside special facilities. The activists said Mayak does not have the technology for handling nuclear waste.

Meanwhile Mayak's information department head, Yevgenii Ryzhkov, on 11 December denied the accusations and said his company possesses ecologically sound technology for processing radioactive waste, Ural-Press-Inform reported.

Marii El Authorities Sweep Market For Illegals
Yoshkar-Ola police detained 15 citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Uzbekistan during an inspection of the city's central market, reported on 10 December. All reportedly lacked permission to stay in the republic, and four had no identity cards.

Samara Prosecutors Contest Duma Election Results
Samara prosecutors have launched a lawsuit against the electoral bodies in two districts, accusing them of falsifying the results of 9 December Samara Oblast Duma elections, "Kommersant" reported on 14 December. Supporters of Samara Mayor Georgii Limansky, who has clashed with oblast authorities in the past, were elected in both districts. Prosecutors assert that part of the electorate reported as having voted did not take part in balloting. Candidates backed by the Russian Communist Party (KPRF), the People's Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), and Limansky adherents won one-third of Oblast Duma mandates.

Samara Governor Konstantin Titov on 10 December told that he is "satisfied with elections results." He said the fact that elections were valid in an overwhelming majority of electoral districts is a sign of highly developed democracy in the region.

Meanwhile, Samara political researcher Yevgenii Molevich called the election results a defeat for the oblast administration. Molevich predicted that the new Duma will be even more independent of oblast authorities than its predecessor. He said oblast leaders lost a significant portion of their control of Samara and may soon lose control of other cities and raions of the oblast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova