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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 24, 2004

24 June 2004
Shaimiev Admits Uncertainty About Latin Tatar-Script Reform
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told "Feldpochta" weekly in an issue published on 23 June that he "is still uncertain whether it is necessary and if Tatarstan is ready" to introduce the Latin Tatar script, a law on which was adopted in 1997. He noted that there were some 2 million Tatars living in Tatarstan and another 5 million outside the republic. "We cannot force them to comply with this law," Shaimiev said. "It is impossible, why should we separate ourselves from them where the revival and development of Tatar language, culture, and literature are concerned." He added that "there are also some other serious objections" regarding this matter.

Nevertheless, Shaimiev described as "illegal" the State Duma's amendment of Russia's language law banning the use of non-Cyrillic scripts in the ethnic republics. He argued that Tatarstan's residents have the right to use any script they choose, according to international law. "We would think a hundred times before beginning the transition [to a Latin script], but the problem is that it was unacceptable to prohibit it, such a direct ban is a violation of the nationalities' rights to self-development, something that creates tension and brings quite the opposite results."

National Bank Chairman: Tatarstan Has Nothing To Worry About
Tatarstan's National Bank Chairman Yevgenii Bogachev told on 23 June that the republican financial system "can remain calm," despite the current tensions among the Russian banks following the recent freeze of Sodbiznesbank's and Kreditrast's licenses by the Russian Central Bank and rumors that Moscow has a blacklist of other banks that are to undergo liquidation. Bogachev cited Russian Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatiev as admitting that that some other banks have similar problems with money laundering as those which led to the liquidation of Sodbiznesbank, "but these drawbacks cannot be considered a crucial factor in assessing Russia's banking system." Bogachev added that there were no "blacklists" of banks to be liquidated, and the rumors will soon come to an end.

Bogachev said that there were no substantial violations committed by Tatarstan's banks, "which tend to present even over-detailed bookkeeping reports." He said that after last year's kidnapping of KamAZ Deputy General Director Viktor Faber, the ransom money was transferred via the accounts of Sodbiznesbank and accounts in offshore zones.

Kazan Police Block Prostitution Agencies' Phones
Kazan police are taking a roundabout way to fight prostitution, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 24 June. For several years, the streets of Kazan have been littered with increasing numbers of leaflets and even graffiti with telephone numbers of "adult entertainment" agencies. In order to eliminate the telephone agencies, police began blocking the most frequently used numbers. According to the head of the Kazan police's antidrug department, Radik Faizullin, who led this operation, local prostitution agencies are already suffering significant material losses because of their inability to contact clients.

Shashurin's Cases Handed To Investigators Outside Tatarstan
The Prosecutor-General's Office ordered the investigation of Sergei Shashurin to be handed over to the Chavash Republic's Interior Ministry and the Volga Federal District investigation directorate, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 23 June. Sergei Shashurin, a former State Duma deputy elected in Tatarstan, was detained by the republic's Interior Ministry in December 2003 and charged with defamation of top ministry officials as well as illegal commercial practices. According to the daily, the prosecutor-general decided to hand the case over to other investigators in order to ensure the maximum possible objectivity. Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General in charge of the Volga Federal District Sergei Gerasimov will reportedly supervise the investigation of the felony case against Shashurin, while the chief prosecutor of neighboring Chavash Republic, Sergei Zaitsev, will supervise the investigation of defamation charges against Shashurin. Until 2000, Zaitsev worked as Tatarstan's deputy chief prosecutor.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Share Of Profitable Enterprises Rises, But Losses Continue To Accrue
Some 30 percent of Bashkortostan's industrial enterprises report that they are unprofitable, a decline of 10 percent from a year ago, Bashinform reported on 23 June, quoting figures announced by Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov. Such companies posted $58 million in combined losses in the first quarter of the year, a majority of that sum hitting enterprises in the industrial and construction sectors. The republic has instituted measures that include administrative sanctions and in some cases imprisonment for executives who repeatedly fail to pay their employees.

Federal Interior Ministry Official Praises Bashkir Police...
The head of the Russian Interior Ministry's board in the Volga Federal District, Vladimir Sherbakov, told a news conference in Ufa on 23 June that the number of legal violations committed by police officers in Bashkortostan this year has fallen by nearly 10 percent versus the same period in 2003, RosBalt reported the same day. In the first five months of 2004, Bashkir police registered 23,600 crimes, most of which were cases of theft or robbery. Investigations have been completed in 64 percent of the cases, one of the highest investigation rates in the Volga Federal District.

...And Says Confidence In Police Is Up
Sherbakov told the same news conference that recent opinion polls in Bashkortostan suggest that 63 percent of local residents see improvements in the work of the police, more than double the figure registered last year, RosBalt reported the same day. Sherbakov claimed that the general level of confidence in republican law enforcement was reported at 72 percent, which is higher than the Russia-wide average. Sherbakov suggested that biased coverage by the media of police activities during the republic's 2003 presidential campaign led to any lack of confidence in the local police.

Industrial Explosion Kills One, Seriously Injures Two In Ufa
One worker was killed and two were seriously injured in an explosion at a hydrogen facility of the Ufa-Khimprom chemical factory on 23 June, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. According to republican Emergency Ministry experts, the explosion was the result of a violation of fire-safety regulations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi