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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 3, 2004

3 August 2004
Kuwaiti Minister Visits Tatarstan
A Kuwaiti delegation led by Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullah Ma'tuq al-Ma'tuq visited Tatarstan on 1-2 August, and Tatarinform reported. The delegation is on a visit to Russia at the invitation of Council of Muftis of Russia Chairman Rawil Gainetdin.

On 2 August, al-Ma'tuq met with President Mintimer Shaimiev, during which they exchanged opinions on joint oil-production projects in Kuwait, deliveries of KamAZ and Kazan Helicopter Plant products, and assembly of KamAZ trucks in Kuwait. Al-Ma'tuq told reporters that Kuwait is ready to make investments in the Tatarstan's economy. Shaimiev said attempts to establish an atheistic society were unsuccessful and over 1,000 mosques have been built in Tatarstan in the past 15 years while there were only 23 in 1990. Al-Ma'tuq praised "the support provided by Tatarstan's president to Tatarstan's religious communities. We are also impressed by the tolerance of religions of people in the republic."

Shaimiev Says Regions Must Have Control Of Compensation To Labor Veterans
In an interview with Interfax on 2 August, President Shaimiev said the issue of paying compensation to labor veterans and people who served in the rear must be resolved by regions on their own. Decisions on removing benefits and on their amounts should not be made at the federal level since it is regional budgets and local self-government bodies that are given financial powers on this point. Shaimiev noted that in the conditions of the transition to the market economy, the system of social benefits cannot continue and their monetarization is inevitable. He added that monetarization of benefits paid from the federal budget will not rouse big controversies unlike payments to veterans of labor and people who served in the rear, which may cause great problems for regions. That is why, he said, incomes of regional budgets in 2005 should not be less than this year's incomes. Shaimiev said the Political Council of Unified Russia, which discussed the issue the previous week, agreed that the social-benefits reform should not result in lowering the living standard of people receiving benefits.

New Education Minister Appointed
President Shaimiev signed on 2 August a decree to appoint Reis Sheikhelislamov Tatarstan's education minister, reported the same day. Sheikhelislamov, 53, an economics professor, has been heading Kazan State University's Chally branch. In 1992-97, he served as the head of the Chally administration education department. While introducing the new minister to the ministry employees on 2 August, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said, "The ministry will become main executor of projects of innovation education in Tatarstan. Renaming the institution into the Education and Science Ministry that had been proposed by the Tatar president will promote this."

Justice Body Seeks Closure Of TIU's Chally Branch...
The Russian Justice Chief Directorate in Tatarstan asked the Chally City Court to abolish the Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center (TIU), reported on 2 August. The appeal cited the federal law on public associations, according to which the TIU Chally branch had to pass state reregistration by July 1999 but had not done so. The branch also had to report annually on its activity, its permanent address, and heads of the organization but nothing was done. TIU coordinator Yunis Kamaletdinov said that attempts to reregister the Chally branch were made several times but documents were returned every time for revision.

...As Prosecutor Apologizes To Its Leader
Meanwhile, TIU Chally branch leader Rafis Kashapov received on 2 August a letter from Chally prosecutor Ildus Nefiqov in which he offered an official apology for criminal persecution and recommended that Kashapov appeal for compensation for moral and financial damage, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 August. Kashapov was accused of inciting national, racial, and religious hatred after police searched the TIU Chally branch office and found leaflets allegedly inciting interethnic discord. Kashapov was also accused of organizing an attempt to destroy the foundation of a chapel of the St. Tatyana Orthodox Church under construction near Chally's Victory Park (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 14, and 31 October, and 4 and 25 November 2002). On 16 April, the Chally court acquitted Kashapov and the Tatar Supreme Court on 22 June upheld the verdict.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Kazan Scholar Doubts Discoveries By Bashkir Historians
The two main ideas promoted at a 27 July roundtable titled "Ufa Is 1,200 Years Old" were that Ufa is older than Kazan and that it was Bashkir khans who founded Ufa, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 1 August. The forum, organized by the World Bashkir Congress Executive Committee, was aimed at placing the founding of Ufa earlier than the current 430 years ago to at least 1,200 years ago. Tatarstan ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 1 August that attempts by Bashkir scholars to make Ufa older and prove that it was founded as a Bashkir settlement are motivated by their desire to provide evidence of Bashkirs being the oldest and indigenous people on the territory. Iskhaqov said recent archeological findings in Ufa should be subjected to independent chronological analysis to determine their age and their ethnic origin should be clarified. According to historical data, Finno-Ugric tribes populated the territory before nomadic Bashkir tribes appeared there in the 9th-13th centuries.

French Scholars Concerned About Preservation Of Rock Paintings In Bashkortostan
French experts on preservation of rock paintings in Bashkortostan's caves Jack Brune and Philip Maloran will work through 14 August in Shulgan Tash (Kapovaya Cave) in Burzen Raion, RIA-Novosti reported on 2 August. Together with scholars from the Institute of History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Scientific-Research Geological Institute, and the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of the Ufa Scientific Center will analyze the current state of the rock paintings and examine proposals by Russian specialists on their preservation. Pictures of mammoths, horses, and rhinoceroses dating to the early Stone Age in the Kapovaya Cave are fading and scholars fear they may disappear.

Trade Between Ufa, Yekaterinburg Growing
Commenting on the first anniversary of Bashkortostan's opening of a representation in Yekaterinburg, mission head Nefise Tomentseva told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 30 July that bilateral trade between Bashkortostan and Sverdlovsk Oblast increased 170 percent in the last year. The office was opened during a visit by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov to Sverdlovsk Oblast. Tomentseva said that in addition to economic cooperation, the office pays major attention to satisfying national cultural needs of Bashkirs living in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova