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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 10, 2004

10 May 2004
Tatar President Attends Putin's Inauguration
Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev and his chief of staff, Ekzem Gobeidullin, who led Russian President Vladimir Putin's re-election effort in Tatarstan, attended Putin's inauguration ceremony on 7 May, Tatar media reported. Shaimiev also met the same day with deputy presidential-administration head Vladislav Surkov and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov to negotiate the development of federal and interbudgetary relations.

Watan Party Demands Official Status For Tatar Language
The National-Democratic Watan (Motherland) party staged a sparsely attended picket on 5 May on Pushkin Square in Moscow to demand that Tatar be given the status of a second state language in Russia, an RFE/RL Moscow correspondent reported on 8 May. About 15 members of the party held placards with slogans such as "We demand equality" and "Russia, show your tolerance." Protesters also called for reform of the Cyrillic alphabet by adding six letters to enable the proper spelling of Tatar names. Watan Chairman Mokhemmed Minachev told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 8 May that raising the status of Tatar to a state language status would contribute to Russian stability. Meanwhile, Russian Academy of Sciences member Yurii Vorotnikov told Ekho Moskvy on 5 May that the demand for such status for Tatar is absolutely unfounded.

Land, Property Relations Ministry Accused Of Corruption
At a meeting of the interdepartmental commission in charge of the timely payment of wages on 7 May, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov criticized the Tatar Land and Property Relations Ministry for affiliations between officials there and property assessors who allegedly underestimate the value of state property slated for sale, "Kommersant" reported on 8 May. Tatar Deputy Interior Minister Rafael Gyilmanov listed a handful of dubious state-property transactions from 2003-03, including the construction of a downtown Kazan cinema. Gyilmanov suggested that companies on an Interior Ministry black list be deprived of the right to valuate state property. Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov listed ministry officials with relatives who head companies in the same sector. Minnikhanov demanded that radical measures be taken, reminding that promotion by an official of the interests of an affiliated firm entails corruption.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Urges Harsh Retaliation For Grozny Bombing
Reacting to the 9 May bombing in the Chechen capital Grozny, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said that "it is evident that it was done by international extremists interested in destabilizing the situation in that region." Rakhimov claimed that the fact that the explosion was during the World War II Victory Day celebrations was a sign that the terrorists had nothing in common with the Chechen people, who during the war fought against fascism along with other nationalities. In his opinion, "Russia's citizens will unanimously uphold the Russian president's decisiveness to undertake the strictest measures of retaliation against separatists in Chechnya." Rakhimov sent his condolences to the family of deceased Chechen President Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, whom he knew personally and who "sincerely wanted to return peace and welfare to the Chechen land."

Is Pro-Moscow Tatar Organization Loyal To Rakhimov?
After a recent meeting between President Rakhimov and the leader of the Moscow-based, pro-Kremlin Watan Tatar public organization, Rinat Aqchurin, the leader of the Ufa branch of Watan, Mecit Khucin, was replaced with Ufa State Pedagogical University rector Rail Esedullin, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 7 May. As a leader of the Ufa branch, Khucin actively participated in the Tatar-rights movement in Bashkortostan and was among those demanding state status for the Tatar language in the republic. Unlike its Ufa branch, the Moscow office of Watan was often condemned by the moderate Tatar nationalist movement in Russia for being organized by the Kremlin to manipulate the Tatar public. As a sign of the Bashkir government's attitude to the new Watan head in Ufa, the state-owned Tatar-language "Kyzyl Tang'" daily offered the organization an office on its premises while its looking for a site in Ufa, something that is hard to imagine happening to any other Tatar organization.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi