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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 23, 2004

23 June 2004
Tatar Supreme Court Rejects Case Against Kashapov
Tatarstan's Supreme Court rejected on 22 June a lawsuit by the Chally city prosecutor against the leader of the local Tatar Public Center (TIU) branch, Refis Kashapov, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Prosecutor Ildus Nafiyqov had issued a warrant to arrest Kashapov, charging him with inciting interethnic hatred. This was based on TIU leaflets found by investigators during a search of Kashapov's apartment. Kashapov was facing up to five years in prison.

During his career as a nationalist movement leader, Kashapov became known for numerous statements accusing Russian government of a policy of genocide against ethnic minorities and the breakaway republic of Chechnya. In the late 1990ies he even had declared his organization a recruiting center for those who wish to support Chechen militant groups, but no evidence of his actual ties with militant groups had been found.

Tatar Parliament Concerned With Lack Of Tatar In Universities
Despite a 10-year-old program giving equal official status to Tatar and Russian in Tatarstan and stable interest in studying the sciences in Tatar at republican universities, only 4 percent of students actually study the subjects in their native language, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 23 June, citing a 22 June conference of Tatarstan's State Council. The program introducing Tatar as an official language in the republic was said to lack mechanisms for ensuring its implementation, as many higher educational institutions are still unaware of the existing Tatar-language programs on basic sciences.

Author Of Regional Mergers Concept Strongly Opposes Presence Of Ethnic Republics In Russia...
At a special roundtable discussion on merging Russia's regions at RosBalt news agency's Moscow office on 22 June, Aleko Adamesku, a member of Russia's Academy of Economic Sciences and Entrepreneurship and one of the authors of a draft plan to reduce the number of regions from 89 to 28, said that all of Russia's regions should be made equal, so that there are no entities with any advantages and there are no regions formed on the ethnic principle.

Adamesku said that regions should have equal conditions and equal constitutional rights, although the current territorial entities naturally have different climates, mineral and natural wealth, and human resources, while the Russian Constitution gives the regions equal rights. He said that 28 governorates should be formed in Russia, because "the merger is mostly opposed by such entities as Ingushetia, Buryatia, and Tuva, which are not economically self-sufficient. Let there be Yakut or Tatar governorates, but no republics."

In late May, the Council for the Study of Production Resources of the Russian Academy of Sciences presented a draft plan in which Russia would be divided into 28 administrative units according to their geographic position, for example the Central Governorate and the Volgo-Kamskaya Governorate,.

...As Another Researcher Says Merger Will Bring More Problems Than Use
The director of the regional program of the Independent Institute of Social Policies, Natalya Zubarevich, told the same roundtable that merging regions would bring more negative effects than positive, because it would lead to a loss of control on the municipal and regional levels. She also said that previous government reforms lacked quality, "as months have passed since the federal government reform and it's still impossible to tell the functions of the reformed governmental bodies."

Zubarevich also predicted that regional mergers would increase government expenses and aggravate the economic situation of small cities. Nevertheless, she admitted that the recent merger of Perm Oblast with Komi-Perm Autonomous Okrug reflected peculiar natural processes in the autonomous okrugs of Russia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Official Jobless Rate Reported Best In District
Bashkortostan's official unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the Volga Federal District at 1.23 percent of the workforce, Bashinform reported on 22 June. In most of the industrial centers of the republic, unemployment is reportedly nearer to 1 percent, while the jobless rate is nearly 16 percent at the former construction site of Bashkir nuclear power plant, the city of Agidel. Approximately 22,500 people are registered unemployed in Bashkortostan, a figure that does not include cases of local factories ordering their workers to take "administrative leave" to avoid having to pay their salaries. Sixty-one percent of the jobless are women.

Republican Inflation Rate Nears 8 Percent
Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee announced on 22 June that inflation in the republic exceeded 7.6 percent in the first five months of 2004. The index factors in the prices of housing services, foodstuffs, and consumer goods. During the same period, the cost of telecommunications services showed a 7.1 percent decline that statisticians credit to strong competition in that sector of the economy.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi