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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 23, 2004

23 September 2004
World PEN Congress Appeals To Russian Constitutional Court To Promote Tatar Latin Script
A congress of PEN clubs held in Troms, Norway, earlier this month appealed to the Russian Constitutional Court to speed up consideration of the appeal against the ban on restoration of the Tatar Latin script, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 23 September. International PEN Club President Jiri Grusa told reporters, "We hope that the appeal will make a start for resolving this issue." Tatarstan was represented at the forum by Tatar PEN Center members Ekhet Mushinskii, Gerei Rekhim, and Gazinur Morat. A previous PEN congress in Macedonia in 2002 also passed a resolution backing the right of the Tatar people to decide on its own which alphabet to use.

The law restoring the Latin Tatar script was adopted by the Tatar State Council in September 1999. In 2002, the State Duma passed an amendment to the law on languages of the peoples of Russia making the Cyrillic-based script mandatory for all state languages in Russia.

State Council Culture, Science, Education, and National Issues Committee Deputy Chairman Tufan Minnullin told "Rossiiskaya gazeta" that the Cyrillic-only amendment infringes on the rights of nationalities as they are not allowed to decide which script to use. Minnullin said the amendment to the law on languages of the peoples of Russia should be abolished as contradicting international law.

World Bank, Tatarstan Discuss $125 Million Credit For Kazan
Following his meeting with Tatarstan's Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 22 September in Kazan, World Bank Executive Director Shengman Jang said the decision on whether to allocate a $125 million credit to Kazan will be made by the end of the year, and "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 22 and 23 September, respectively. Bank representatives said the republic has fulfilled the most important condition for providing the credit by declaring Kazan a municipal entity. A corresponding law was issued and came into force the day before the bank delegation's visit to Kazan. To obtain the status of a municipal entity, Kazan had to refuse the planned doubling of its territory. Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhaqov said the credit will be spent on financing socially oriented programs, including development of education, health care, housing, and municipal services.

Interior Minister Appeals To National Communities To Follow Registration Rules
Tatar Interior Minister Esget Seferov met on 21 September with members of the coordinating council of Tatarstan's Association of National-Cultural Organizations (ANKO) to discuss the issue of terrorism, and RIA-Novosti reported on 22 September. Seferov said of the 215 crimes committed in 2004 by foreigners in Tatarstan, over 60 percent were committed by illegal migrants. "We have to expose and stop the activities of emissaries of terrorist organizations, for which it is necessary to observe the registration regime and implement all procedures in the migration sphere," the minister said. ANKO President Sagit Dzhaksybaev said national communities are ready to provide help in ensuring public order.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Authorities Concerned About Rise In Deaths From Drinking Alcohol Substitutes
Stricter measures to control the sale of liquids containing spirits will be introduced in Bashkortostan, the presidential administration's economic development and social policy board head Ilshat Tajetdinov told a press conference on 22 September, RIA-Novosti reported. A corresponding resolution has been developed and is going through a consultation procedure in ministries and departments. This comes in the wake of a rise in the number of deaths from drinking liquids containing spirits. Most recently, in Bashkortostan's Kaltasinsk Raion three people, including one woman, died and three others were seriously poisoned after drinking window cleaner. Selling spirit-containing products will be permitted only in specialized stores or sections, and only after control of its quality and safety. Health Minister Fenil Shemigulov said Russia is among the leaders in terms of deaths from drinking alcohol substitutes. He said in Bashkortostan, 407 people died from poisoning in 2003.

Unified Russia In Bashkortostan Backs Appointing Governors
The Bashkir regional branch of Unified Russia announced on 22 September that it fully backs the proposals on administrative reform proposed by President Vladimir Putin, Regnum reported the same day. Unified Russia Bashkir presidium member Aleksandr Degtyarev said appointing heads of regions instead of electing them democratically will prevent unworthy people from coming to power and save money that is now being spent on election campaigning. Furthermore, Degtyarev said, this fully corresponds with historical principles of Russian statehood, as during both tsarist and Soviet times, governors were appointed, not elected. At the same time, Degtyarev believes that the principles of democracy will not be violated as the role of local parliaments will increase.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova