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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 30, 2004

30 August 2004
Shaimiev Gives Holiday Greeting
On the 14 anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty, which is marked as an official republican holiday on 30 August, President Mintimer Shaimiev said that the document "was an important step toward consolidating the progressive public forces for renewing the republic and strengthening the unity of the multiethnic peoples of Tatarstan," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. In reference to the declaration, which promoted Tatarstan as an independent state subject to international law -- although those stipulations have since been deemed invalid by the federal government -- Shaimiev said: "Today we feel ourselves not only the patriots of the Russian Federation.... But also of our own land." "Fourteen years ago it was especially difficult to find an optimal model of relations between the federal center and the regions," he said. "With its principled and a balanced position, and readiness for reasonable compromise at the time, Tatarstan gained the reputation of a pioneer in establishing federative relations. It is evident that the unitary model of state, as well as its uncontrolled decentralization, are both far from the ideal. For example, the strengthening of the power vertical in Russia and the wise unification of laws were long-overdue measures. However, excessive centralization of the state conceals dangerous illusions of simple solutions."

Tatarstan Marks 14 Years Of Republic
Following a 14-year tradition, various events were held throughout Tatarstan on 30 August to celebrate the republic's declaration of sovereignty, known as Republic Day, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The center of Kazan was closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian zone with numerous show stages.

Kazan also traditionally celebrates its city day on 30 August, and this year's events were considered a rehearsal for next year's millennium ceremonies. Preparations for this year's celebrations included extensive construction and decoration projects in the city. A road-construction company manager told an RFE/RL correspondent that although his subordinates are capable of doing necessary work throughout the summer, the state concentrates its funding "on renovations to completed by 30 August, as it is considered to be a matter of prestige."

Shaimiev, German Ambassador Attend Retail Outlet's Grand Opening
President Mintimer Shaimiev said during the grand opening of a METRO Cash&Carry wholesale retail outlet in Kazan on 27 August that "our republic has a bold task before it -- to reach the European life level." The opening of the German retailer was also attended by German Ambassador to Russia Hans-Friedrich von Pletz and coincided with the opening of German culture days in Tatarstan.

Aleksii II Sets Condition For Returning Icon To Kazan
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II said on 29 August that the 18th-century copy of the Mother of God of Kazan (Our Lady of Kazan) icon that the Vatican returned on 28 August to the Russian Orthodox Church during an official ceremony will be kept in Moscow, Russian media reported.

Patriarch Aleksii said the icon will be kept in Kazan only if the city's Bogoroditskii Monastery, which used to house the icon, is renovated (see "RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 August 2004).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Police Prepare For 'Phone Terrorism'
By the beginning of the new school year on 1 September, Bashkortostan's police have prepared technical facilities for dealing with the expected rise in "phone terrorism," often by children who call in false bomb reports in schools and other public places, Regnum reported on 29 August. Forty-seven such false alarms have already been called in this year, while the republic's new law on administrative violations, which took force from 12 July, stipulates a fine of 25 minimum monthly incomes ($90) for adolescents involved in "phone terrorism," in addition to the usually charged cost for the services of all emergency services, which usually arrive at the potential crime scene.

Yulaev Monument In Need Of Urgent Help
A special research group that inspected the monument to Bashkortostan's national hero Salavat Yulaev came to the conclusion that the 37-year-old symbol of both the republic and its capital needs urgent repair, Vsya Ufa TV reported on 30 August.

It was established by the group of experts that the metal used for making the monument is seriously worn out, while the makers of the monument failed to install some 30 percent of the bolts initially planned for the statue. The 15-meter-tall statue is the tallest mounted monument in Europe.

Pilots Donate To Family Of Colleague Killed By One Of Twin Air Disasters
Pilots of Bashkir Airlines are raising donations for the family of Yurii Andushenko, a pilot on board the Sibir Airlines Tu-154, one of the two passenger jets that crashed in Rostov and Tula oblasts in what investigators believe to be the act of terrorists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 2004).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi