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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 22, 2004

22 July 2004
Shaimiev Outlines Possible Drawbacks Of Social Reform Plan...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 22 July that he considers it essential to amend the federal law on veterans by establishing minimal social subsidies that are to apply for the period of transition from the current system of social discounts to monetary compensation. He said he is certain that the federal government will manage to ensure the stable payment of compensations to World War II veterans, disabled people, and other categories of the socially needy. However, he admitted that not all regions will manage to provide compensation to the larger groups like labor veterans and poor children. Shaimiev added that under these circumstances, social reform may cause serious social imbalance. Nevertheless, he emphasized that the Tatar government supports the reform in general and was preparing draft laws on introducing it in the republic.

...And Meets The Classic Of Tatar And Bashkir Poetry
President Mintimer Shaimiev met with Mustay Kerim, a poet and prominent public figure from Bashkortostan, in Kazan on 21 July, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. After the closed-door meeting, Kerim told reporters that the two discussed ways to establish closer relations between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. One-third of Bashkortostan's population are Tatars, while only the Russian and Bashkir languages have official status. Tatar activists also accuse the Bashkir authorities of interfering in the 2002 national census by exaggerating the numbers of ethnic Bashkirs and misrepresenting the actual number of Tatars.

Kerim avoided answering questions about his own ethnicity, noting that "only in the 1990s did there come a division into Tatars and Bashkirs." Of ethnic Tatar origin, the poet has never been in opposition to Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov and is currently working on his memoirs and writing poems in Bashkir. During Rakhimov's 2003 reelection campaign, Kerim made numerous statements in his support and criticized the Tatar rights movement for misrepresenting the Tatars' situation in Bashkortostan.

Zyuganov's Supporters Fail To Replace Tatarstan's Communist Leader
Following the 1-2 July breakup of Russia's Communist Party into groups led by longtime Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov and Ivanovo Oblast Governor Vladimir Tikhonov, a group within the party branch in Tatarstan held a plenum to remove branch leader Aleksandr Salii, who had joined the anti-Zyuganov bloc.

However, Tatarstan's Justice Ministry refused to recognize the plenum as legitimate, thus suspending the group's decision to replace Salii with the Chally city Communist committee chairman Khafiz Mirgalimov.

Israeli Police Establishes Ties With Tatar Counterparts
A group of 20 Israeli policemen including active and retired officers are visiting Kazan on 21-24 July to meet with the Tatar Interior Ministry officials, visit historical sites in Kazan, and see the KamAZ automotive works, Intertat reported on 21 July. The Israeli police is reportedly interested in both professional cooperation and informal ties with their Tatar counterparts within the framework of International Police Association.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan�s Military Commissioner Supports The Idea Of Professional Army For Russia
Bashkortostan�s Military Commissioner Timofei Azarov told the press conference on 21 July that in 2003 his office recommended 201 recruits from his republic as candidates for joining the professional Russian Army and serving in the Central Russia, Chechen Republic, Tajikistan and the Russian Navy, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. He noted that gradually all of the Russia�s Armed Forces will be transited to the contract-based service, which in his opinion is more effective that the current system of obligatory army service. Bashkortostan Republic traditionally remains one of the leaders in recruitment for army service, ensuring the highest percentage of draft-age young men sent to army. Azarov also said that the republic will resume its material assistance to families of Bashkortostan�s soldiers killed in action. Each of these families reportedly gets 20,000 rubles ($690) in monthly compensations from the republican government.

Daily Makes Forecasts For The Future Presidential Elections In Bashkortostan
Recently dismissed head of the general staff of Russia�s Armed Forces Anatolii Kvashnin is weighting up his chances of running for Bashkortostan�s president in 2008, the republican edition of the nation-wide �Argumenti i fakty� daily wrote on 21 July. Besides Kvashnin, head of the Belorussia�s presidential administration Ural Latypov is reportedly also mentioned among the possible contestants for the Bashkir presidency. Both mentioned to-be candidates were born in Ufa, but later continued their career in Moscow.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi