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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 8, 2005

8 July 2005
Tatarstan�s Foreign Relations Experience Approved
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov on 7 July said Tatarstan�s experience in developing international and foreign economic relations deserves the broadest propagation, RFE/RL�s Kazan bureau reported the same day. Tatarstan�s experience was on the agenda of the meeting of the Council of heads of Russian Federation subjects under the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry held in Moscow. Speaking at the gathering, Lavrov said Tatarstan has significant successes in concluding agreements on international and foreign economic cooperation and such countries as the Netherlands, Finland, the United States, Turkey are among its leading economic partners. The council backed Tatarstan�s initiative calling for more active participation of regions in Russia�s relations with the Organization of the Islamic Conference, praised Tatarstan�s activity on support of fellow countrymen living in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic countries and voted for spreading Tatarstan�s experience of cooperation with UNESCO and the Organization of Cities of World Heritage.

Speaking at the council meeting, President Mintimer Shaimiev said Tatarstan opened in the past 15 years 16 representations abroad, signed over 50 cooperation agreements with foreign partners. The foreign trade turnover grew sixfold during the same period to $6.3 billion in 2004. In the past 12 years, $3.9 billion of investments were attracted to the republic. Shaimiev said Eurasian mentality inherent to Tatarstan can help develop cooperation with many countries in this direction.

Tatar Companies Russia�s Best Exporters
Nizhnekamskneftekhim and KamAZ were recognized winners of the competition among Russia�s best exporters, reported on 7 July. Nizhnekamskneftekhim was nominated the best among chemical industry companies while KamAZ -- among automobile producers.

Tatarstan Sells 2 Percent Of Finance Leasing Company
Tatarstan�s Land and Property Relations Ministry sold on 7 July to an unspecified buyer 2 percent�s stake of the Finance Leasing Company (FLK) for 74.87 million rubles ($2.6 million), AK&M reported the same day, citing the ministry press service. The starting price of the stake was 68.07 million rubles. The ministry maintained 9.3 percent of FLK.

FLK was established in 1997 by Tatneft, the Zenit bank and the Solid investment and finance company for leasing Tu-214 jets produced by the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant. In 2002, the state took over the controlling interest of the company. Its authorized capital totals 3.738 billion rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Mandatory Studying Bashkir To Be Introduced In State Educational Institutions
The Bashkir State Assembly on 7 July passed in the first reading amendments to the republican law on education making studying the Bashkir language mandatory in all state educational institutions, RosBalt reported the same day. Education Minister Zugura Rakhmatullina commented at the session that Russian and Bashkir are republic�s state languages under the law on the languages of peoples of Bashkortostan but this norm still hasn�t fixed in the law on education. Rakhmatullina said only �minimum hours,� specifically, one or two hours a week, will be allocated for studying Bashkir so that to �teach representatives of non-Bashkir nationalities to verbal communication with the indigenous people.� No additional lessons will be introduced for teaching Bashkir, instead, hours allocated for other subjects will be reduced, the minister said.

Parliament Promotes Postponement Of Local Self-Government Reform
The State Assembly passed on 7 July amendments to the federal law on general principles of local self-government in Russia aimed at postponement introduction of the law till 1 January 2008, RosBalt reported the same day. The Bashkir parliament suggested that regions be given power to determine on their own time and order of newly formed municipal bodies� coming to power. State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said at the session that introduction of the law on local self-government as of 1 January 2006 is undesirable as this would be fraught with serious social shock. �Local budgets won�t have enough money for sufficient financing schools, housing and municipal-service sector and health care,� Tolkachev argued.

BTK Members Allege Organization Leadership Of Extremism
The official news agency Bashinform released on 5 July a statement by 15 members of Bashkortostan�s Tatar Congress (BTK) Executive Committee sharply criticizing the activity of the current leadership of BTK, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 6 July. The group headed by Executive Committee former chairman, State Duma Deputy Eduard Khemitov charged that the committee chairman and his deputy don�t do anything to resolve national-cultural and educational problems of Tatars but instead take steps aimed at splitting good-neighborhood relations between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan and brotherly Tatar and Bashkir peoples. The statement signatories blamed the BTK leadership for its �extremist,� �illegal� and �provocative� actions, specifically, for calls for Bashkortostan�s merger with neighboring Orenburg and Chelyabinsk oblasts and for non-admission of Bashkortostan�s leadership to take part in the Kazan millennium celebrations. According to the authors, the 22 June BTK congress during which the latter calls were voiced was �illegitimate.�

The authors expressed non-confidence to the new leaders of BTK and called for their replacement. They said in case the Executive Committee refuses to act in a constructive way, they will call an extraordinary congress of the organization. �We won�t let a group of politicians use the so-called �Tatar issue� for rousing interethnic discord,� the authors said and emphasized that they are ready for cooperation with authority bodies and public organizations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova