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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 25, 2004

25 February 2004
Presidential Adviser Says Dismissal Of Russian Cabinet Was Predictable
Refeil Khekimov, Tatar presidential adviser on political affairs, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 24 February that Russian President Vladimir Putin's dismissal of the government was "predictable, yet unexpected" for Tatarstan's government. He said it was clear that Putin would inevitably get rid of the Yeltsin-era government, especially after the resignation of former presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin, but he was not expected to make the decision before the 14 March presidential election.

According to Khekimov, the government's dismissal will not affect Putin's approval ratings, but is considered a positive change for Tatarstan, whose aircraft industry suffered from the unclear economic policies of the previous cabinet. Though declaring the necessity of supporting domestic aircraft producers, Mikhail Kasyanov's government tolerated multimillion-ruble contracts for importing airliners by Russian companies.

Conference Acknowledges Increasing Role Of Political Consultants
Kazan State University hosted a national conference titled "Political Consulting: Horizons of the New Reality" on 24 February, focusing on the role of consultants in Russia's modern political life.

Robert Minnullin, deputy speaker of the Tatar parliament, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau that "gradually and inevitably, government is switching from total reliance on so-called administrative resources to a multiparty political system" and therefore the contribution of political experts to parties' or candidates' campaigns is becoming more important. This was the view expressed at the conference, which included reports by Kazan researchers and professional political promoters from Moscow, as well as other Russian regions.

OSCE Monitors In Tatarstan
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers Dermot Velan and Clive Jordan are in Tatarstan to monitor the campaigns for Russian presidential and Tatarstan's State Council elections set for 14 March, Intertat reported on 24 February. A strict condition of their long-term election-campaign monitoring is that they do not comment on current developments. After the vote, the OSCE will publish a report on the conduct of the elections in Russia, with examples from regions across the country.

New School To Offer Native Language Studies
Tatarstan's national-cultural organizations association and "Multiethnic Sunday School" will open an elementary school for children of different ethnic communities, who will be able to study their native tongues along with Russian and Tatar, Tatarinform reported on 24 February.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Presidential Administration Issues New Accreditation Rules
The Bashkir presidential administration has confirmed new accreditation rules for journalists, RosBalt reported on 24 February, citing the presidential press service. The new regulations are intended to promote "openness and glasnost of work by the president and the government, improvement of the population's awareness of their activities, and creation of required conditions for journalists' professional activities." The regulations are founded on the federal law on mass media and cannot be used for "introduction of censorship and other restrictions of journalists' and residents' rights on timely receiving true information" about activities of the republic's head, the government, and authorities.

The right of accreditation was provided to all registered Russian media outlets regardless of their ownership and founders and all foreign media outlets accredited by the Russian Foreign Ministry. At the same time, the Bashkir president's press secretary can refuse accreditation to advertising and other outlets that do not cover the activities of the president, the government, and other authorities. The press secretary can also remove registration from reporters for violating accreditation rules or spreading false information defaming the honor and dignity of the president and the government, if so ruled by a court.

NIKoil Representative Elected UralSib President
NIKoil financial corporation representative Fuad Akhundov was elected UralSib president at the bank's extraordinary shareholders meeting on 24 February, "Kommersant-Daily" and RosBalt reported. Former president Azat Qormanaev remained the head of the bank's observer council. Akhundov, who was previously NIKoil's first vice president, has been acting UralSib president since December. The Bashkir government's stake in UralSib decreased from 66.3 percent in January 2003 to 22.5 percent in October. In February, NIKoil requested the Russian Antimonopoly Ministry to register its ownership of 75 percent in UralSib.

Swiss Air-Traffic Controller Accused Of Causing Midair Collision Killed
The Swiss air-traffic controller who was on duty during the midair collision between a Bashkir Airlines airliner and a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany in July 2002 was killed on 24 February at his home outside Zurich, RIA-Novosti reported on 25 February. Swiss police said the 36-year-old Dane was stabbed by an unknown man after a short quarrel. It is nit clear if there is any connection between the accident and the killing. The accident claimed the lives of 71 people, most of whom were children from Bashkortostan.

Education Authorities Dissatisfied With Teaching Of Bashkir
The Bashkir Education Ministry is dissatisfied with the teaching of the Bashkir language in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 24 February. Bashkir Deputy Education Minister Mindebai Yulmokhemmetov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that in Bashkortostan's northwestern raions, children registered as Bashkirs nevertheless consider themselves Tatars like their parents and refuse to study Bashkir. The official said it is necessary to amend the law on education to make studying Bashkir obligatory. Currently, only 38 percent of Bashkortostan's schoolchildren study Bashkir. A Sterletamaq court recently ruled in favor of a suit by parents against the teaching of Bashkir to their child in secondary school, as the republic's law on education does not say it is mandatory. As a result, the study of Bashkir in the student's class was stopped.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova