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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 17, 2005

17 October 2005
Day Of Memory Held In Kazan
The Day of Memory -- which commemorates Kazan defenders who died during the city's conquest by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 -- was held in Kazan on 15 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Representatives of Bashkir, Chavash, and Mari national movements arrived in Kazan to join the event. Tatar State Council Committee Chairman Razil Weliev, a former deputy in the State Duma; Tatar Latin Front leader Fendes Safiullin; Tatar Public Center Chairman Telget Bariev; writer Rabit Batulla; and actors Renat Tajetdin and Nail Dunai spoke at the meeting on Freedom Square. Tatar nationalist movement leader Feuziye Beiremova criticized the recently published draft concept of Russia's national policy, which promotes a dominating role for Russians among Russia's other ethnicities. Beiremova charged that hundreds of Tatar Muslims have been imprisoned and are being persecuted and tortured. Tatars are currently subject to the same policy they were 453 years ago, she concluded. Participants then marched in downtown Kazan to the Soembike Tower in the city's �kremlin� and prayed in the Qol Sherif Mosque.

Municipal Elections Valid In All Districts
Turnout in Tatarstan's municipal elections on 16 October totaled 60.4 percent, reported the same day, citing Central Election Commission Secretary Valentina Kamenkova. In Kazan, the turnout totalled roughly 40 percent while in some rural districts it reached 90 percent. The 20 percent minimum was exceeded in all 999 municipal entities. Some 9,800 candidates competed for 8,058 offices.

Tatneft May Retake Control Of Ukrtatnafta
The Ukrainian Constitutional Court on 13 October annulled the transfer of 43 percent of Ukrtatnafta to Naftohaz Ukrayiny, "Kommersant-Volga-Ural" reported on 15 October. The stake will instead be passed to Ukraine's State Property Fund, which will sell it in an auction. The previous month, Ukraine's Supreme Economic Court invalidated the purchase of 18 percent of Ukrtatnafta by the Swiss AmRuz Trading AG and the U.S. SeaGroup International, which are Tatneft's affiliates. A FGI spokesperson told the daily that the fund plans to sell 61 percent of Ukrtatnafta for at least $500 million. Meanwhile, AmRuz and SeaGroup have appealed the verdict. The next hearing on the appeal is slated for 17 October. Meanwhile, Ukrtatnafta Observers Council chairman and Tatarstan's first deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov told the daily that Tatneft will likely seek to purchase the stake.

Budget Deficit To Total 1 Billion Rubles
Tatar Finance Minister Radik Gaizatullin presented on 14 October Tatarstan's draft 2006 budget at a session of the State Council Committee on Economy, Investments, and Entrepreneurship, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Gaizatullin said the current budget differs from previous ones because of a significant increase in allocations for the sociocultural sphere and support for municipal budgets. According to the draft, income will total 51.4 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) while expenses will reach 52.4 billion rubles. The maximum budget deficit is estimated at 1.4 billion rubles. Growth of gross regional product is expected to total 6.5 percent. Transfers from the federal budget will total 9 billion rubles, of which 6.8 billion rubles will come under the federal program on socioeconomic development of Tatarstan until 2006. Some 28.4 billion rubles, or 72 percent of the republican budget, will be spent in the sociocultural sector.

Tatar Rights Movement Opposes Obligatory Teaching Of Bashkir
Cewdet Gilecetdinov, chief executive of the World Tatar Congress office in Bashkortostan, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 14 October that he considers the revised republican law on education to "violate all international norms."

This statement was backed by the republic's Tatar rights movement, which strongly criticized the introduction of obligatory Bashkir language lessons in local schools because, critics say, the legislation infringes on the rights of numerous non-Bashkir nationals. Meanwhile, Ayrat Giniyatullin, leader of the Tatar Public Center in Bashkortostan, and the deputy chairman of Tatar ethnic and cultural autonomy, Mecit Khucin, told RFE/RL the same day that they would consider it normal to make Bashkir language lessons for school children optional.

Ufa Wants To Be Older Than Kazan
Following this year's celebrations of the Kazan millennium anniversary, the World Bashkir Congress initiated a conference discussing the age of Bashkortostan's capital, Ufa, on 14 October, a local RFE/RL correspondent reported the same day.

According to Bashkir researchers cited at the conference, Ufa is thought to be older than the current estimate of 430 years. Further planned research is reportedly compromised by the unwillingness of local construction companies to allow archeological work at sites occupied by new buildings in Ufa.

These reports have led to a number of local media outlets, most of them Bashkir-speaking, to suggest that Ufa is older than the 1,000 year-old Kazan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi