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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 4, 2005

4 May 2005
Tatarstan's Ethnic Education System Said To Face Gradual Collapse
Moederris Weliev, director of the Megarif publishing house, the first in Tatarstan to issue ethnic education books, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 3 May that his company's current difficulties are the result of the "gradual destruction of the entire ethnic Tatar education system.' He said that Megarif, which was established in 1992, issues 130-140 publications a year in Tatar, including schoolbooks, dictionaries, and children's books. The company's total annual print run is more than 1 million copies. Weliev said under Russia's current market conditions, Megarif is forced to aggressively market its products in order to compete with other ethnic publishing houses offering Tatar books in regions outside Tatarstan.

Tatarstan's Hockey "Dream Team" Officially Dissolved
Following the failure of Tatarstan's Aq Bars hockey team to reach the finals of the Russian national championship, 15 of its players -- including U.S. National Hockey League (NHL) stars Nikolai Khabibullin, Aleksei Kovalev, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Kovalier -- left the team, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 May. This represented an official end to what Russian sports media called a hockey "dream team." Earlier this year, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev instructed Shefeget Takhautdinov, the general director of the Tatneft oil company, to help the Tatarstan team win the national championship this year -- the year that marks the 1,000-year anniversary of the Tatar capital Kazan. Tatneft help Aq Bars hire a number of NHL stars. But the team, coached by Zinatulla Billaletdinov, failed to win any trophies.

Tatarstan's Oil Output To Reduce From 2015
According to Tatarstan's social and economic development program cited by Tatar-inform on 3 May, the republic in 2015 will begin downgrading its annual oil output, which currently amounts to some 30 million tons. The same program also confirms that the government plans to maintain current output levels until 2010.

EBRD Sells Its Stake In KamAZ
The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development sold its 6.78-percent shares package in the KamAZ automotive works to a Moscow investment company, Intertat reported on 3 May. In 1995, the bank granted a $100 million loan to the company, which managed to convert the debt into the shares package in 2001. Together with Tatarstan's Property Relations Ministry, Russia's Federal Property Management Agency and Vneshtorgbank -- which services Russia's foreign trade -- remain the major shareholders of KamAZ.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Presidential Spokesperson Says Opposition Ran Out Of Funds For Resuming Its Public Activities
Rostislav Morzagulov, a spokesperson for Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, told reporters on 3 May that he believes a two-month break announced by the Bashkortostan opposition stems from a lack of funding, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Opposition groups claimed they had decided against staging any street protests in the days before the 60th anniversary of Victory Day out of respect for World War II veterans. Morzagulov, however, dismissed the explanation. Bashkortostan's official press has speculated that the government of Tatarstan may be supporting the Bashkir opposition in order to weaken Rakhimov's stature, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported.

Blagoveschensk Lawyer Hints At Blatant Violations Of Human Rights
Stanislav Markelov, the lawyer of the four victims of police violence in the December 2004 raid in the Bashkir city of Blagoveschensk, told Regnum on 3 May that he was shocked to hear police officers interrogated about the incident refer to the space where the detainees were held as a "filtration facility." Markelov says Russia's judicial system makes no provision for such a facility and that if one existed, it would represent a limitation of individual freedoms.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi