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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 26, 2004

26 January 2004
Unified Russia Proposes Most Candidates In Election Districts
The Unified Russia party has proposed the largest number of candidates in the 14 March elections for Tatarstan's State Council, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 26 January. For the 100 republican parliament seats that are to be divided equally between deputies elected in single-mandate districts and deputies elected according to party lists, Unified Russia proposed 90 candidates; the Communist Party, 68; Russian Party of Life, 45; ultra nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 38; Russian Communist Working Party, 29; Development of Entrepreneurship party, 21; and Union of Rightist Forces, 14 candidates. An additional 101 candidates are running for deputy seats in 44 districts, while 250 candidates seek election in 50 single-mandate districts.

LDPR To Seek Ethnic Vote In Tatarstan
Besides other campaigning activities in the run-up to March parliamentary elections, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) will issue leaflets in the Tatar language demonstrating the party's sympathy toward the republic's citizens, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today citing party representatives. In the past, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii has said that ethnic republics are Russia's weakness and should be transformed into oblasts or smaller administrative units.

Tatarstan Environmental Board Gives Republic Bad Marks
Tatarstan's board of natural resources and protection of the environment on 26 January said that most of Tatarstan's regions were characterized in 2003 by a "moderately intense" or "intense" situation with regard to environmental pollution, Intertat reported. The board said the water quality of the Kuybishev water reservoir varied from "moderately polluted" to "polluted" and that of the Tuben Kama reservoir was "extremely polluted" to "polluted."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Swiss Official Vows To Speed Up Compensations For Air Disaster
Switzerland intends to step up efforts to resolve the issue of paying compensations to the relatives of victims of the July 2002 midair crash near Ueberlingen, Germany, involving a Bashkir Airlines jet, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 January. The midair collision between a Bashkir Airlines' Tu-154 and DHL Boeing 757 cargo jet killed 71 people, most of whom were children from Bashkortostan en route to Spain. According to one investigation, the crash was caused by an incorrect command given by an employee of the Swiss air-traffic controller Skyguide. The issue was on the agenda of a meeting that day between Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and Swiss Federal Department of Finance head Hans-Rudolf Merz in Davos, Switzerland. Kudrin told reporters following the meeting that the investigation of the issue continues, and that "today we discussed the possibility of speeding up the payment of compensations." Kudrin said Merz assured him "that the Swiss government will do everything [it can] to speed up a solution to the issue."

Bashkir Congress Opposes Improving Status Of Tatar
The World Bashkir Congress Executive Committee recently held a meeting to discuss results of the December republican presidential elections and to discuss the status of languages in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. Ildus Ileshev, the director of the Bashkir Academy of Sciences' History, Language, and Literature Institute, spoke against giving the Tatar language the status of state or official language in Bashkortostan, noting that the World Bashkir Congress and top Bashkir scholars strongly oppose the idea. The deputy chairman of Bashkortostan's Tatar Congress, Radik Sibegetov, responded that Ileshev's comment is evidence that now that the presidential elections are over, Bashkortostan's leadership has reneged on its promise to revise the status of Tatar. Sibegetov said that it is unlikely Ileshev's comments were his own, and rather he must have been voicing the stance of the republican authorities. Such a shift would not contribute to the improvement of interethnic relations in the republic in the future, Sibegetov added. He said Tatars' hopes were once again unjustified, and they will learn not to trust the republican leadership.

Tatar Outlets Boost Print Runs in Bashkortostan
The majority of Bashkortostan's Tatar-language newspapers have increased their print runs, reported on 23 January. Only the daily "Qyzyl tang," has posted a lower print run, to 34,000. The youth publication "Omet" now boasts a print run of 43,500, while the similar Bashkir-language newspaper "Yeshlek" has 26,000. The Tatar-language youth magazine "Tulpar" prints 18,000 copies, compared to 5,700 for the similar Bashkir-language outlet "Shongqar." The Tatar-language children's magazine "Elluki," which began being published this year, has 3,000 subscribers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova