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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 3, 2005

3 October 2005
Kremlin Rejects Proposal To Introduce Of Post Of Vice President
The federal presidential administration rejects the idea of introducing a post of federal vice president that would be earmarked for a Muslim, RIA-Novosti reported on 30 September, quoting a senior Kremlin aide. "Our state is secular, and that proposal could never under any circumstances be implemented," presidential-administration deputy head Vladislav Surkov told reporters the same day.

Council of Muftis of Russia Chairman Rawil Gainetdin suggested at a news conference in Moscow on 27 September that Muslim leaders might raise the issue of introducing such a post. He said the effort could pay off if "the number of Muslims grows while the demographic situation worsens." Gainetdin said he thinks Muslims deserve to be represented through a senior state post. "We are not promoters of changing the current constitution," Gainetdin said, and he added, "The time has not yet come for such discussions.... We should not frighten representatives of other faiths."

The "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly speculated on 29 September that Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev might be selected for the post if it were introduced.

Tatarstan Mufti Injured In Road Accident
The chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Mufti Gosman Iskhaqov, was hospitalized on 29 September in serious condition after a road accident, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The car in which Iskhaqov was riding reportedly collided with a moose in a Kazan suburb, leaving him with broken bones, a concussion, and lacerations. Iskhaqov was admitted to intensive care and listed as being in "serious but stable condition," according to RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 30 September. Iskhaqov's wife, who was in the car with him, was hospitalized with cuts and bruises.

Tatar Speaker Chairs Council Of Europe Committee Meeting
Tatarstan State Council Chairman Farid Mukhmetshin chaired a session of the Council of Europe's Congress of Regional Authorities' committee on culture and education in the Turkish city of Denizli, the State Council's press service reported on 30 September. The forum passed decisions on preparing reports on regional cooperation among universities and on support for minority languages.

The committee also accepted an action plan that was passed by a Warsaw summit of the Council of Europe. The plan stresses the importance of unified standards in the sphere of social unity, culture, and education alongside human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.

Nuclear Project Sparks Criticism
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 1 October, the chairman of a civic group opposing the construction of the Tatar Nuclear Power Station, Albert Garapov, warned that restarting the construction of that project in Kama Alany and raising the level of the Tuben Kama reservoir from 62 to 68 meters would have catastrophic consequences for the environment. Both measures are included in the government-backed five-year plan for Tatarstan's economic development, which was passed by the State Council on 9 September. Garapov said the issue of radioactive waste has not been resolved and claimed that the cost of storing such waste would outweigh the project's economic benefits. Garapov also said the project is fraught with danger of a nuclear disaster that could prove fatal for Tatars, since Tatarstan is the sole center of Tatar culture. Such a disaster is possible, Garapov said, since the station is located in an area of high seismic activity. The areas of the Volga and Kama rivers would be contaminated by radiation in the event of a disaster whose effects could be felt for thousands of years, he added. Garapov noted that construction was begun in a populated area near the city of Tuben Kama, and that the evacuation of 500,000 people would be required in the event of a disaster.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova