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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 17, 2004

17 June 2004
Russian Presidential Envoy Says Moscow Not Planning Future Regional Mergers...
According to presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko, the recent merger of Komi-Perm Autonomous Okrug and Perm Oblast "was an individual case rather than an indication of a general trend towards merging all of the regions in Russia," "Izvestiya Tatarstana" weekly reported on 16 June. Kirienko added that when merging federation entities, "it is important to pay attention to the ethnic factor for preserving the unique culture of ethnic minorities" and hold special referendums on mergers. He emphasized that the federal districts were not created to draw the shape of future regions, "but for moving parts of the presidential staff closer to the regions because it is impossible to follow and control what is taking place there from Moscow."

Kirienko asked rhetorically "How can one unite ethnic territorial entities, and which principles should be used to attaching, for example, a poor Ulyanovsk Oblast to the prosperous Tatarstan?"

...And Happy With Shaimiev's Performance As President
Kirienko also said that the federal authorities "regret" that Tatarstan's Mintimer Shaimiev refused to seek another presidential term, which would be his fourth, although it is allowed by law.

Shaimiev Meets With Finnish Ambassador
President Shaimiev and Finnish Ambassador to Russia Rene Nuberg discussed on 16 June the possibility of implementing that country's energy-saving technologies in Tatarstan and attracting more foreign investments to local industries, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. During the meeting, Nuberg hinted that Russia currently does not have sufficient legislation guaranteeing the safety of foreign investment, a situation that he expects will be improved by Russia's planned entry to the World Trade Organization.

After the talks, Nuberg told reporters that his visit was possible mostly due to the efforts of Okan Daher, chairman of the Helsinki Tatar community.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Activists Continue Struggle To Raise Status Of Tatar
Representatives of Bashkortostan's Tatar organizations during a 15 June meeting in Ufa discussed further steps in their fight for to obtain higher status of the Tatar language in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. It was announced at the gathering that a second appeal has been handed to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov that calls on him to resolve the issue of granting state-language status to Tatar. They reminded him that they sent an earlier appeal to him on 6 January. The authors said that if the president continues to ignore their appeals they will take other measures to promote official status for Tatar, including initiating a referendum. The activists have included the issue in the agenda of a congress of Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center slated for 19 June.

Durtoile Company Employees Stage Hunger Strike
An unspecified number of employees of the Durtoile Raion's Tang public catering and entertainment company, which employs 120 persons, announced a hunger strike to protest what they perceive as harassment from raion authorities, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 15 June. Employees of the company earlier held protest strikes (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 June 2004). In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 15 June, Tang General Director Rinat Sekhibjatin said Durtoile Raion administration head Rawil Dewletov has persecuted the company because the raion intends to take over a plot of land near the company. Sekhibjatin claimed pressure against his company grew following the December Bashkir presidential campaign, during which meetings with voters of presidential candidate Relif Safin were held on company premises.

Businessman Killed In Salawat
Igor Panchenko, a 33-year-old department head at the Salawatnefteorgsintez oil refining and petrochemical company, was recently killed in his apartment in Salawat, RosBalt reported on 16 June. Panchenko's body was found on 12 June with bullet wounds to the head and back. The Bashkir Prosecutor's Office commented that the killing was probably contracted and is most likely linked to the company's economic activities.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova