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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 15, 2004

15 November 2004
Shaimiev Urges Unified Russia To Consider Regional Branches' Views...
Speaking at a special congress of Unified Russia's Tatarstan branch on 13 November, President Mintimer Shamiev, who serves as secretary of the party's General Council, said the party's leadership should pay close attention to information coming from its local offices, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 15 November.

Shaimiev said that "we have to find the strength and the avenues to take a critical look at many things," Shaimiev said. "Otherwise we cannot ensure spiritual unity, which he said the party must obtain to ensure its leading position in Russia.

He said that input from regional branches is currently of particular importance, as proposed legislation that would eliminate elections for regional leaders is being considered.

...As Mukhametshin Emphasizes Tatarstan Branches' Achievements In Tatarstan
Farid Mukhametshin, Tatarstan's State Council chairman and secretary of Unified Russia's Political Council in the republic, said at the 13 November congress that Tatarstan's Unified Russia branch is largest among Russia's regions. He estimated that the party is represented in Tatarstan by 79,800 members in 45 local offices and 843 minor divisions. This, he said, "proves that the regional office has become an inalienable element of Tatarstan's political system."

Mukhametshin said that the party has contributed greatly to social and political stability in Tatarstan, the strengthening of interethnic and interconfessional concord, and large-scale economic and social reforms.

He added that for improving its performance, the party currently has to enrich its human resources with representatives of creative and scientific intelligentsia, �because otherwise our party will be unable to preserve its leading role in Russia's politics."

Russian, Tatar Officials And Religious Leaders Exchange Greetings On Eid al-Fitr Holiday
Russia's Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov sent a greeting to Tatarstan's Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan on 14 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The message noted the increased role of the Muslim community is playing in spiritual and moral education and in opposing radicalism. According to Fradkov, Russia's Muslims "actively participate in implementing programs of social importance and in developing interconfessional dialogue."

On 13 November, President Mintimer Shaimiev sent the chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Gosman khezret Iskhaqiy, a greeting to mark the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Shaimiev also said that "undoubtedly, Tatarstan's Muslim community will further contribute to the revival of spirituality and morality, the preservation of civil peace and accord in the republic, the development of the interconfessional dialogue, and friendship between peoples."

Also on 13 November, Shaimiev addressed comments to the chairman of the Muslim Religious Board in the European part of Russia, Rawyl Gainetdin.

The chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Gosman khezret Iskhaqiy, also congratulated the Muslims of his republic on the occasion, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported.

Shaimiev Expresses Condolences Over Arafat's Death
Following the death of Yasser Arafat on 11 November, President Mintimer Shaimiev said in a message to the leaders of Palestinian Authority that Arafat was "an acknowledged politician of the international level, the nationwide Palestinian leader, who devoted his life to the just struggle for the realization of the inalienable right of his people to statehood, independence, and self-determination," the presidential press service reported on 13 November. "It is hard to overestimate the Arafat's personal role in following the noble goal of reaching the universal and just peace in the Middle East," Shaimiev concluded.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan Marks Id Al-Fitr
Telget Tajetdin, chairman of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Religious Board, gave a holiday sermon in the Lyalya Tyulpan Mosque on 14 November to mark the Muslim holiday of Uraza beyrem (Id Al-Fitr), an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. During the service, Tajetdin specifically mentioned that Islam taught its followers to live in peace with one's neighbors and maintain relations based on friendship and mutual respect. He also urged believers to abstain "from what is prohibited by God: wine, drugs, envy, lies, and anger."

On the eve of the holiday, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov issued a greeting to Muslims in the republic, stating that in Bashkortostan all religious customs and traditions are treated with respect. He said that he thinks "the unique moral and cultural potential from Islam and other traditional religions will further aid the prosperity of our fatherland."

Bashkir Government Loosens Its Grip On Uralsib
Bashkir Finance Minister Ayrat Geskerov confirmed on 12 November that after the recent changes at Bashkortostan's major financial institution, the Uralib bank, only 12 percent of its shares are owned by the republican government, down from 19 percent, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Geskerov claimed that despite the decrease, Bashkortostan will maintain strong control over the bank, which is currently dominated by Moscow-based shareholders. He did not, however, comment on the mechanism for that republican control.

Federal Human Rights Official Praises Bashkortostan's Government
Vyacheslav Seliverstov, the chief of the state board on human rights protection for Russia's human rights commissioner, told Bashkir President Rakhimov on 12 November that he highly appreciates the level of protection for the rights of soldiers and their families, Bashinform reported the same day. Seliverstov emphasized that during his inspection he discovered that Bashkortostan's human rights situation was not "distinguishably worse than the rest" of Russia. In fact, "contrary to that, there were a few examples of positive work by state government bodies."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi