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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 27, 2004

27 September 2004
Suspected Criminal Group's Case Goes To Court
Tatarstan's Supreme Court on 27 September began hearing the case of the suspected criminal group known as "Jilka," thus concluding a nine-year investigation that resulted in 25 murder and other felony charges against 16 suspects, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Beginning in 1995, Tatarstan's police tracked felonies believed to have been committed by Jilka members in Kazan, Moscow, and Perm, Orenburg, Ulyanovsk, and Rostov oblasts. The extensive period of the investigation was blamed on the difficulty of collecting evidence to unveil the organized nature of the crimes under consideration.

As a result of ongoing legal reform in Russia, the jury and not the judges will issue a verdict on the case comprising 98 volumes and 3,100 pages.

Legislative Speaker Emphasizes Importance Of Democratizing Local Self-Government
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told the 24 September meeting of a parliamentary working group focusing on reform of local self-government that given Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent proposal to appoint regional leaders in Russia, "we must ensure democratic development on the local level while at the same time forming the new municipal bodies [and] we should give them sufficient powers," reported the same day. Mukhametshin emphasized that it is important for Tatarstan's State Council to prepare draft laws on local self-government "within short time terms."

Tatarstan's Budget Open For Discussion On Internet
For the first time in Tatarstan, the republican draft law on the 2005 budget is available for downloading at the homepage of the republic's State Council -- ostensibly for further discussion and possible proposals by public -- Tatarinform reported on 24 September. The draft document was submitted to the parliament on 16 September and faces initial debate in commission by October; it is expected to face a plenary vote by late November. The document can be viewed at

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Delegation Joins Celebrations Of Salawat Yulaev's Jubilee In Estonia
A delegation headed by Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister and Culture and National Policy Minister Khelef Ishmoratov began a visit to Estonia on 23 September devoted to the 250th anniversary of Bashkir national hero Salawat Yulaev, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The delegation will lay flowers at the Salawat Yulaev monument in Paldiski, where Yulaev was imprisoned by Tsarist forces and later died at the age of 46. A Yulaev museum will also be opened there and a festival devoted to the jubilee will be held. In Tallinn, the Tatar delegation is to hold meetings with Estonian Culture Minister Urmas Paet and Population and Ethnic Affairs Minister Paul-Eerik Rummo.

Bashkir Legislature Creates Stricter Conditions For National, Cultural Associations
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 26 September, Tatarstan's representative to Bashkortostan and the head of Bashkortostan's Tatar Civic Groups Union, Ramil Bignov, said that Tatars living outside Tatarstan, including in Bashkortostan, cannot expect Tatarstan to allocate money for their national and cultural needs.

In order to promote their needs they are going to hold a Congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars on 27 November and will establish Bashkortostan's Tatar National Cultural Autonomy. Bignov said the autonomy will unite Bashkortostan's Tatars and help arrange referendums on key Tatar issues, including the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan. Bignov also said that the autonomy will act in cooperation with the new federal Regional Policy Ministry, the leadership of which he has already invited to the congress.

Meanwhile, the Bashkir State Assembly passed an amendment on 23 September to the law on the national and cultural associations of Bashkortostan's citizens prohibiting allocation of money for such associations from republican and local budgets. Bashkortostan's authorities have for several years been hindering the setting up the Tatar national cultural autonomy in the republic.

Tatar Writers Unable To Publish Their Works
Bashkortostan's Tatar Writers Union head Reshit Sabit told a union meeting on 23 September that Tatar-language writers wait between five and 10 years for their manuscripts to be published in the republican state publishing house, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 24 September. Only four or five Tatar-language belles-lettres are published every year.

The head of the publishing house explains such a practice by saying that there is a lack of money available to publish Tatar books. Sabit said an appeal was sent some time ago to the Bashkir government to increase the number of Tatar-language belles-lettres being published but no response has been received. The union agreed to address a similar appeal to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov.

At the gathering Bignov, the head of Bashkortostan's Tatar National Groups Union, said that President Rakhimov promised to increase publishing Tatar belles-lettres when he spoke at a meeting with Bashkortostan's Tatar leaders in July 2003. A similar measure was also listed in Rakhimov's special decree on the fulfillment of the national and cultural needs of Bashkortostan's Tatars. But nothing has been done, so all promises turned out to be nothing but pre-election promises, Bignov said. He added that it would be unfair to demand that Tatarstan allocate money to publish books by Bashkortostan's Tatar writers since the republic's 1.5 million's Tatars pay taxes to Bashkortostan's republican budget and should therefore be provided with conditions that satisfy the community's cultural needs. He called on Tatars to more actively defend their rights, saying "our silence has resulted in depriving the Tatar language of an official status in Bashkortostan."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova