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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 26, 2004

26 April 2004
Altai Republic's Legislative Speaker Visits Tatarstan
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 23 April met with Altai Republic State Assembly Chairman Igor Yaimov, who was on a two-day visit to Tatarstan to establish business, political, and cultural contacts, and Tatar-inform reported. Yaimov invited the Tatar president to attend celebrations in the Altai Republic in 2006 marking the 250th anniversary of Altai joining Russia. Yaimov said the people of the Altai Republic are linked to Tatarstan by common lineage, as Altai is an ancient motherland of all Turkic peoples and the location of the first Turkic state. At a meeting with State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin, Yaimov discussed the prospects of signing a bilateral interparliamentary agreement and it was decided that parliamentary delegations should exchange visits. Yaimov, who visited several agricultural regions and farms the previous day, said Tatarstan's use of new technologies in cattle breeding, crop growing, and business management in the agriculture sphere can be held up as a model for the Altai Republic. Approximately two of three residents of the Altai Republic live in rural areas.

Day Of Native Language Celebrated In Tatarstan
Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva on 26 April addressed residents of the republic on the occasion of the Day of Native Language, saying that native languages ensure the survival of peoples' individuality, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported. Welieva said the republic's authorities constantly work to develop the languages of the peoples of Tatarstan, and noted that a state program is being implemented to protect native languages. Preparations for ratification by the Russian Federation of the European Charter of Regional and Minorities' Languages make it important for Russia and federation subjects to pay greater attention to the issue, Welieva said in a written address.

Meanwhile, the first Tatar gymnasium in Ulyanovsk Oblast will be opened this year in Dimitrovgrad, Regnum reported on 23 April, citing The Tatar language and literature will be taught in all of the school's 11 grades. Instruction on artistic and aesthetic subjects will be held in Tatar, while major subjects will be taught in Russian. Gymnasium graduates will be provided quotas to enter Tatarstan's institutions of higher education.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim Ordered To Boost Production�
A Nizhnekamskneftekhim annual shareholders meeting on 23 April decided to pay out 113.4 million rubles ($4 million) in dividends for 2003, 13 percent higher than in 2002, Tatarinform and other news agencies reported. Robert Musin was re-elected chairman of the board of directors and Vladimir Busygin as general director. Busygin announced that the company plans to hike production by 0.5 percent over 2003 levels. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov responded by demanding that production be increased to equal the republic's average of 4 percent growth. In 2003, the petrochemical giant posted a gross profit of 3.6 billion rubles, up from 2.5 billion rubles in 2002.

...As KamAZ Threatened By Another Crisis
The management of KamAZ has revised the truckmaker's 2004 business plan to estimate that the company will lose 3.5 billion rubles ($121 million) next year, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 23 April. The plan originally predicted profits of 112 million rubles. Subsidiaries of the company have been ordered to cut expenses by 1.2 billion rubles. Rising costs for energy and raw materials are reportedly the primary reason the revised earnings forecast, and the weekly commented that layoffs are the only feasible way to improve the situation. Meanwhile, the weekly cited an official report according to which KamAZ posted a profit of 75.8 million rubles in the first quarter of this year. At the same time, the RBK rating agency the previous week ranked Russia's largest companies in terms of losses in the first nine months of 2003, and KamAZ was listed fourth with losses of 503.8 million rubles. However, the company reported that it finished the year with a profit of 92.5 million rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir, Perm Oblast Leaders Disagree Over Suicide Bombers
Chairman of Bashkortostan's Muslim Spiritual Directorate Normokhemmet Nigmetullin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 23 April that he disagreed with the recent proposals of Muhammad Gali Khuzin, the Perm Oblast mufti and deputy chairman of the Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (TsDUM), who suggested that the relatives of suicide bombers should share their responsibilities. Khuzin reportedly said suicide bombers "should know before going to kill other people that [their] relatives will take on the consequences on [their] behalf." Khuzin also said that family members of suicide bombers should "have some of their civil rights suspended" rather than be put in prison. Disagreeing, Nigmetullin told RFE/RL that "no one can bear the punishment for other people's actions." One week before Khuzin's statement, Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov called for the banning of the Wahhabi stream of Islam in order to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Bashkir Experts Oppose Official Status Of Tatar Language
Bashkir state television on 23 April aired a program devoted to the possibility of granting official status to the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Tatars are the second-largest ethnic group in Bashkortostan. Academics and experts quoted on the program concluded that it is unacceptable to raise Tatar's status as this would "cause other ethnic claim official status for their native tongues, force Bashkortostan to be renamed the Tatar-Bashkir Republic, and spur the assimilation of the Bashkir population by ethnic Tatars." During his December 2003 re-election bid, President Murtaza Rakhimov pledged to reconsider the Tatar-language issue, but has since failed to mention the matter in public.

Bashkir Interior Ministry Defends Itself Against Corruption Claims
Bashkir Interior Minister Refeil Divaev told reporters on 23 April that recent criticism of his ministry's performance with regard to corruption by the republic's prosecutors "cannot be accepted without reserve," Rosbalt reported the same day. Divaev said that the prosecutors' claims that ministry officials are forging statistics on police work are "50 percent false." Divaev said that in general his ministry is doing good work and problems with its efficiency will be discussed at the ministry's annual conference on 25 May. Earlier that day, Mikhail Zelepuki, Bashkortostan's acting prosecutor, said that the republic's law enforcement bodies had withdrawn themselves from the struggle against economic crime and corruption.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi