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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 19, 2004

19 October 2004
Opposition Journalist: Republics Have Failed To Preserve Federalism
The book "When Republics Were Great" by Lev Ovrutskii, a journalist who has been highly critical of Tatarstan's authorities, was presented to the public in Kazan on 14 October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 14 and 15 October. In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 15 October, Ovrutskii said that "the materials in the book answer the question of what Kazan federalists could have done and what they have not done for ideas of federalism to take root in Russia. I think a historical mission fell on the republics to win over the federation from the empire." Ovrutskii asserted: "Now one can see that the republics did not cope with this task. Policy was not structured in a proper way; there was no foresight in the policy; tactical tricks took place. [The republics] have not demonstrated to all of Russia that federal relations are most agreeable and useful. Loyalty and federal discipline has not been demonstrated to the federation." He said it was necessary to show "a Bryansk peasant...that everybody, including himself, gains from Tatarstan's sovereignty and federative relations. We, the current generation of Kazan federalists, have not coped with this task." Ovrutskii also said that President Vladimir Putin's recent initiatives on political reform "frighten" him. "I expect people to appear who will organize public resistance," he said. "It is impossible to imagine the development of federalism [under conditions] when Tatars will be unable to elect their president. This means a crossroads on the development of federalism," he added.

Tatar Delegation Joins Russian-Italian Working-Group Meeting
A delegation from Tatarstan led by Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khefiz Salikhov was expected to take part in a meeting of a Russian and Italian working group on the creation in Russia of industrial zones and cooperation among small and medium-sized businesses in Italy on 19-20 October, reported on 18 October. The schedule includes a plenary session with the participation of Italian Deputy Industry Minister Adolf Urso and bilateral meetings between representatives of Russian and Italian state, public, and private bodies. The delegation will also visit industrial zones in the Emilia-Romanya Oblast.

Program Of Cooperation Between Tatarstan, Bashkortostan Adopted
Members of a bilateral commission on promoting cooperation between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan who held a session the previous week in Ufa have developed a plan of cooperation in the cultural, scientific, and cultural spheres for 2004-05, Tatarinform reported on 18 October. The plan includes a joint celebration of the republics' leading cultural events, including the 85-year jubilee of Bashkir poet Mostai Kerim, the 200th anniversary of Kazan State University, the 95th anniversary of Bashkir State University, and the 70th anniversary of Tatarstan's Writers Union. The document also lists the opening in November of an office of the Bashkortostan State Television and Radio Company in Kazan and that of Tatarstan's New Century Television and Radio Company in Ufa. The exchange of musical programs and others devoted to literature, arts, religion, and amateur and folk arts between the two companies will begin this year, according to the plan. In December, a telebridge between Kazan and Ufa has been planned. Next year's joint projects include the international theater festival of Turkic people Neuruz, an exhibition devoted to the Kazan millennium with the participation of Bashkorostan's painters, exchange of tours of republic's state ensembles of folk singing and dancing.

Authorities Warn Markets Could Be Closed Due To Vulnerability To Terrorism
Not one of the 23 markets in Kazan and Chally meets antiterrorism and security standards, Regnum reported on 18 October. The issue was on the agenda of a joint meeting of the Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation and the Interior ministries. Major shortcomings include a lack of systems for the video observation and a lack of road access. Deputy Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Ilshat Dautov said if the heads of the markets do not eliminate shortcomings, markets will be challenged for closure through court verdicts.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Motor Rally To Protest Police Corruption And Persecution
A Ufa-Nizhnii Novgorod-Moscow motor rally began on 18 October in Ufa, Regnum reported the same day. The rally has been organized to protest police corruption and persecution and is being supported by the National Anticorruption Committee, the nationwide For Human Rights movement, the Moscow Helsinki Group, and the People's Will Party. The rally participants will stop in Nizhnii Novgorod on 20 October, where they plan to stage a picket near the office of presidential Volga Federal District envoy Sergei Kirienko. On 21 and 22 October, a protest will be held in Moscow near the building of the Russian Interior Ministry. Bashkir residents who have left the republic because of alleged persecution will also take part in the protests.

Teachers And Medical Workers To Join Russia-Wide Protests
Bashkortostan's secondary-school and nursery teachers will hold a one-day strike on 20 October, Bashinform reported on 14 October. Over 700 of the republic's educational institutions employing 23,000 people have announced that their staff will join the protests. The same day, workers from the educational, health-care, and cultural sectors will stage protests in Ufa, Beloretsk, Sterletamaq, and Salawat. The events are part of the Russia-wide protests of state employees, who are demanding that their salaries be raised by 50 percent this current year and be doubled the next year. The medical workers' trade union also plans to join the protest on 20 October, Bashinform reported on 18 October. The chairman of the Bashkir branch of the medical workers' trade union, Pavel Zyryanov, told the news agency that the union "has no claims on the republican government" since in Bashkortostan, unlike in other regions, people "have long ago forgotten what wages arrears are." He said that his organization is protesting low salaries, which is the responsibility of the federal government.

New Federal Inspector In Bashkortostan
Presidential Volga Federal District envoy Kirienko appointed on 15 October Aleksei Kovalskii as Bashkortostan's federal inspector, Regnum and "Vedomosti" reported on 18 October. Kovalskii replaced Ivan Ognev, who left the position to join the Russian Natural Resources Ministry. Kovalskii graduated from Bashkir State University and the Academy of National Economy. For the past four years, he has been working as federal inspector in the Orenburg Oblast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova