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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 31, 2005

31 August 2005
Kazan Wraps Up Millennium Celebrations...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 30 August sent Tatarstan's people his greetings on the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the declaration of Tatarstan's state sovereignty and on Kazan's millennium, in which he said "we can say with confidence that Kazan has become a Eurasian capital," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. "We have already become a good model for the entire Russian Federation in many respects but our potential is far from exhausted," Shaimiev said.

Shaimiev held meetings during the day with numerous visiting guests, including the federal director for the use of natural resources, Anatolii Ledovskikh, LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, and Russian Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev. Shoigu told reporters following the meeting that he cannot find the words to express his feelings, adding that "Kazan has given the whole country an example of how to live and celebrate."

The final day's program of celebrations included a historical show called "Golden Horseshoe," races at the new international horseracing complex, the air show "Millennium in the Sky" performed by elite flying groups using five MIG-29s and six Su-27 fighters, the "Kazan Forever" performance at the central stadium with baritone Dmitrii Khvorostovskii, a pop music concert near the Kazan Kremlin attended by some 120,000 spectators, a multimedia show, and a firework display with about 1,000 volleys.

...And Attended By Russia's Duma Speaker
Russian State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov met on 30 August in Kazan with the heads of the parliaments of the regions within the Volga Federal District who took part in the Kazan millennium celebrations, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Gryzlov toured Kazan to observe the projects built for the jubilee, including the Millennium Bridge, the Qol Sherif Mosque, and the reconstructed Lady Day Cathedral.

Gryzlov told a news conference the same day that the bilateral treaty on power sharing between Tatarstan and Russia "will be passed as soon as it is introduced to the State Duma," as it now has the status of a federal law. Gryzlov added, however, that he "doesn't know when this will happen." Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said "there is still one item of one article in the draft that Moscow doesn't like," adding that it doesn't concern any financial preferences of Tatarstan but promotes a lowering of the rate of the tax on the extraction of natural resources. "Our oil wells are aging and it becomes more and more difficult to produce oil, so we believe a differentiated approach in taxation should exist that is to be fixed in the treaty," Mukhametshin said.

At the news conference, Gryzlov spoke against making amendments to the Russian Constitution regarding an extension of the Russian presidential term. Gryzlov said a qualified majority in the State Duma "intends to preserve the constitution and prevent attempts aimed at changing it."

Greetings From UN Secretary-General On Kazan Millennium
Kofi Annan has sent President Shaimiev his congratulations on Kazan's jubilee in which he said that "Kazan during its rich history was a crossroads of civilizations and a place where peoples representing different cultures and traditions were engaged in trade and the exchange of ideas," reported on 29 August. Annan said "this knowledge and experience of global diversity is an important advantage in a world that is becoming more and more interdependent." He called on the Kazan people "to maintain this openness by maintaining the distinctiveness of their city in the future."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Opposition Deputy Describes Opposition's Difficulties
In an interview with published on 29 August, Bashkir State Assembly opposition deputy Edvard Murzin said that the recent conflict between President Murtaza Rakhimov and his son Ural is more accurately described as "collusion." He said demonstrations planned by Bashkortostan's opposition for the fall will have no effect since a "larger scale is needed."

Murzin said he doesn't support opposition leader Ramil Bignov's "exaggerating the Tatar issue," as it is impossible to unite Mariis, Bashkirs, Udmurts, and Russians living in Bashkortostan on this issue. Murzin added that using Bashkir nationalist youth organization against people during opposition meetings wasn't Rakhimov's idea, as he "isn't bloodthirsty," but that of his chief of staff, Radii Khebirov, because of his "youth and lack of experience." Murzin also said Rakhimov's team will likely hold power till 2008.

He also criticized the law introducing mandatory study of Bashkir in secondary schools. Murzin said hundreds of Tatar residents have appealed to him to complain that their children face problems, since they are forced to study Bashkir in place of Tatar in school.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova