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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 4, 2004

4 November 2004
Government Discusses Chally's Drug-Fighting Methods
The Tatarstan Security Council's antidrug commission devoted its 3 November session to discussing ways of stemming drug use in Chally, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Half of the population of the republic's second city is under the age of 30.

More than 6,800 drug addicts are officially registered in Chally, four times the number registered in 2000. In 2004 alone 477 cases of drug trafficking were detected in Tatarstan's industrial center, indicating a 44 percent decrease of such crimes compared to previous years. Tajikistan was listed as the primary source of drugs brought into Chally.

The commission reportedly favored demanding medical certificates from students of local universities to confirm they are not drug users and agreed to use this method at other universities in Tatarstan.

Chief Prosecutor Kafil Amirov asked the officials responsible for antidrug policies to attribute greater attention to cooperating with religious representatives.

Shaimiev Meets With Tatar Children
Meeting with some 70 gifted children from across Tatarstan Republic at his official residence on 3 November, President Mintimer Shaimiev said that more than 500,000 of Tatarstan's 3.4 million citizens are children, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day.

Shaimiev told the children that their achievements resulted from three elements -- "their teachers, their own desire to succeed, and their parents' love."

Tatarstan Interested In Wider Cooperation With India
India's Ambassador to Russian Federation Kanval Sibal told Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov in Kazan on 3 November that his country is not satisfied with its current level of trade with Russia, Intertat reported. He expressed optimism that Putin's visit to India can help increase the countries' bilateral trade, which is estimated at some $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion per year.

According to the Tatarstan's Trade and Economic Cooperation Ministry, India was only 13th among the republic's major foreign economic partners in 2003, accounting for annual trade volume of some $86 million. However, in the first half of 2004 trade between Tatarstan and India slumped.

Tatar exports to India consist mainly of synthetic rubber, KamAZ trucks, aircraft parts, and various types of machinery. Trade Minister Khafiz Salikhov said during talks with Sibal that Tatarstan is interested in expanding exports of Kazan-made helicopters and industrial electric devices. Tatarstan mainly imports medicine, food-processing equipment, and foodstuffs from India.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

FSB In Bashkortostan Urges Media To Be More Reserved When Covering Terrorist Acts
Aleksandr Klyuev of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in Bashkortostan said at a special seminar held for the predominantly state-owned media community of the republic on 3 November that the Russian State Duma is preparing new media regulations for preventing the manipulation of public opinion by terrorists, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the next day.

The seminar, entitled "Public security and activities of the media," was organized by the FSB and Bashkortostan's government and focused on ways of limiting the media's access to information about future terrorist acts in order to safeguard public order and prevent public empathy with terrorists. However, Klyuev admitted that the Internet remained a significant source of uncontrolled information about the operations of the secret services and often was used for advocating the views of terrorists.

Famous Singer's Suicide Said Due To Political Persecution
Vener Mustafin, a singer at Bashkortostan's State Philharmonic Concert Hall, was found hanged on 3 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Before the alleged suicide, Mustafin made numerous complaints about the pressure put on him by Bashkir officials, including from the philharmonic, after his participation in the 2003 election campaign of Relif Safin, who ran against incumbent Murtaza Rakhimov for the Bashkir presidency. No official statements have been made regarding the incident, while Mustafin's friends told RFE/RL that he had serious problems with receiving enough work after the presidential vote.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi