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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 1, 2004

1 October 2004
Constitution Court To Consider Case Of Tatar Latin Script...
Russian Constitution Court on 5 October will consider an appeal from Tatarstan�s State Council questioning the legality of a ban on Latin Tatar script imposed by the Russian State Duma in 2001, republican parliament speaker Farid Mukhametshin told reporters on 30 September in Saratov, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Mukhametshin said that the federal law obliging the use of Cyrillic script by all non-Russian languages in Russia "is a topic for serious discussion, and the Constitutional Court has to comment on this." He expressed his hopes that the process "follows the provisions of the European charter on ethnic minorities," which stipulates the right of every nation to freely choose its method of expressing its native language.

...Along With Claim Against Ethnic Education In Schools
Also on 5 October the Constitutional Court will consider the suit of Kazan resident Sergei Khapugin, who is suing Tatarstan's Education Ministry for introducing obligatory Tatar lessons in republican schools, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 30 September. Tatarstan's Supreme Court earlier rejected Khapugin's suit, claiming that the Education Ministry held no responsibility for the school program drafted according to the law on state languages passed by the republican parliament. The Russian court reportedly merged this case with the one on Latin Tatar script.

Tatarstan To Spend $306 Million On Monetarization Of Social-Security System
Tatarstan's Social Security Minister Klavdiya Novikova told a meeting of the governmental social-policies committee on 30 September that due to the planned monetarization of the existing system of social benefits for impoverished citizens, the federal government will cover compensations to veterans of World War II, combat veterans, decorated veterans, those who were exposed to contamination due to the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, and all groups of disabled persons, totaling some 300,000 people, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day.

The republic will have to guarantee payments to those who gained the title of labor veterans during World War II, those who we subjected to political repression, and some pensioners. The republic will have to allocate 8.9 billion rubles ($306 million) of its budget in 2005 to pay the compensations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Swiss Diplomat Opens Construction Of Migrant Settlement In Ufa
Swiss Ambassador to Russia Erwin H. Hofer on 30 September took part in laying the first stone of a village for migrants in Ufa's Nagaevo residential area, Bashinform reported the same day. The project is being implemented under an agreement signed between the Swiss and Bashkir governments in late 2003. The project's senior engineer, Bahadyr Khudayarov, told the news agency that the Ufa administration allocated 3 million rubles ($103,000) for the construction while the Swiss side will contribute 500,000 francs ($400,000) to the project provided it is completely transparent. The project is to provide residence to about 550 people. The Bashkir project is the Swiss government's first in Russia and it will be repeated across Russia if it proves successful.

Government, Unions Discuss Planned Protest
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov met on 30 September with Bashkortostan's Trade Union Federation Chairman Emirkhan Semirkhanov to discuss the union's participation in the forthcoming national demonstration of workers of the education, health-care, and cultural sectors, Bashinform reported the same day. Baidavletov expressed his understanding of the unions' concerns and said that the republican authorities in conditions of centralization of financial resources have to look for additional means of financing social spending. He said the government will take all necessary measures to meet its obligations to public-sector employees and preventing social destabilization. He also said that in the past six years, the share of social spending in the republican budget increased by 14 percent. He also said salaries of public-sector employees will be increased by 20 percent as of 1 January, adding that it is necessary to optimize the number of public-sector institutions and expenses on their maintenance. Semirkhanov stressed that constructive partnership has been established between the government and unions in Bashkortostan and added that the Trade Unions Federation decided to hold meetings to support the nationwide demonstration during off hours.

MegaFon Cellular Provider Develops Network In Bashkortostan
Investment in the MegaFon cellular communications network in Bashkortostan doubled in the first six months of the year to $5 million in comparison with the same period last year, Prime-TASS reported on 30 September, citing the press service of MSS-Povolzhe, the MegaFon representative in the region. Another $5 million will be spent on network development this year. The number of MegaFon subscribers has increased by 150 percent to 200,000 so far this year, while the number of basic stations has been increased from 83 to 122 across the republic. Since the beginning of 2004, MegaFon began operating in 16 raions in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova