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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 12, 2004

12 August 2004
OIC Official Optimistic About Russia's OIC Membership
Meeting with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 11 August in Kazan, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the newly elected secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the director of the OIC's International Research Center For Islamic History, Art, and Culture, said the issue on Russia's OIC membership may be resolved soon, reported the same day. Ihsanoglu said Russia could receive observer status, adding "I personally wish for Russia to become an OIC member." He added that the Islamic world accepted with great satisfaction the October 2003 statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia is a country of two confessions, where Muslims and Christians live in peace and concord. Tatarstan is a good sample of what Putin said, Ihsanoglu said. The same day, Ihsanoglu was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Institute of History of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences. At the following ceremony, he said, "Tatarstan has obtained its representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference." Ihsanoglu will take the post of OIC secretary-general on 1 January.

Shaimiev praised Ihsanoglu for the organization of the international conference on Islamic culture in Kazan in 2001, adding that the revival of Islam in the hearts of Russia's Muslims is of great importance for Russia. At the meeting, it was decided to hold a conference on the particularities of Islam in the Volga-Ural region in 2005 in Kazan. Ihsanoglu said it "will be our present for the celebration of Kazan's millennium."

Obstacles To Tatar-Abkhaz Cooperation Over?
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said following his meeting with Abkhaz Prime Minister Raul Khadjimba on 10 August that no agreements were reached at the meeting but "spheres of mutual interests and possible cooperation have been determined," Regnum reported the same day. Khadjimba said the visitors "are interested in our health resorts and we are ready to cooperate with Tatarstan in this sector."

Abkhaz Ambassador to Tatarstan Georgii Sangulia told "Kommersant-Povolzhe" on 12 August that Minnikhanov's visit is a good impulse for strengthening bilateral relations broken off 10 years ago and reviving intergovernmental agreements that had been then prepared but not signed. The friendship and cooperation treaty signed between Tatarstan and the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia on 17 August 1994 in Kazan angered the Georgian authorities, who said it threatened Georgia's territorial integrity. Following the move, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "Tatarstan's signing the treaty with Abkhazia opposes the obligations of the Russian Federation resulting from the 1994 treaty on friendship and cooperation between Russia and Georgia" and noted the "inadmissibility of bringing political ambitions to those relations." Tatarstan's Foreign Relations and Issues of the Commonwealth of Independent States Department then responded that there is no any political union between Sukhum and Kazan or intentions of interfering in somebody's internal affairs.

"Kommersant-Povolzhe" speculated that this time the friendship between the two regions in unlikely to draw negative reaction from Moscow, which supports Abkhazia in its conflict with Georgia.

Tatarstan's Pilgrims Take Short Cut To Mecca
Tatarstan's Deputy Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Ayaz Mingaliev said agreements were reached with United Arab Emirates' tourism companies on arranging a new route for Tatarstan's pilgrims to travel to Mecca for hajj through Dubai, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 11 August. Pilgrims will fly to Dubai and then go to Saudi Arabia by bus. The new route will save each pilgrim $200-$300, Mingaliev said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Branch Of Revenge Party To Be Formed In Bashkortostan
Vener Fettakhov, a Bashkir Interior Ministry reserve lieutenant colonel, will head the republican branch of the Revenge party, which held a founding congress in Moscow on 7-8 August, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 August.

Fettakhov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 9 August that the party is united by the idea of protesting the collapse of the Soviet Union. Fettakhov said he proposed including in the party's program provisions on the defense of citizens' rights and on increasing responsibility of courts and judges that currently defend the interests of bureaucrats. He added that the party unites many veterans of the military, Interior Ministry, and Federal Security Service. He said the party wants to revive the Soviet Union and some speakers at the congress admitted that attempts to do so could provoke bloodshed.

Bashkir State-Run Dairy Gets New Owner
The Magadan Diary Factory purchased on 10 August the state's 74 percent stake in the Bashkir Mesyagutovskii Dry Milk Factory at an initial price of 22 million rubles ($752,000), Interfax-Povolzhe reported on 11 August, citing the Bashkir Property Ministry. The Mesyagutovo factory in Bashkortostan's Duvan Raion is one of the republic's five-largest diary factories and was the only state-owned company among them.

Ufa Increases Investments Into Housing Construction
Over 400,000 square meters of housing will be constructed every year in Ufa according to a forecast of Ufa's socioeconomic development through 2007 developed by the city administration, Bashinform reported on 11 August. Investments in the housing and socio-cultural construction will grow from 11 billion rubles in 2005 to 16.5 billion rubles in 2007, according to the forecast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova