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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 10, 2004

10 December 2004
Tatar Parliament Expands Terms Of Local Administrations
Tatarstan's State Council passed legislation in all three readings on 9 December to change the procedure for amending the republican constitution, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. The bill reportedly excludes a provision that effectively extends the terms of local administrations nearly a year, until January 2006. The legislation excludes a previous clause that prescribed that the election of deputies to municipal councils and local government must be held no later than the expiry of municipal-council terms. Backers said the move will prevent administrative crisis, since new local-administration, council, and self-governing bodies have elections slated for late 2005.

Environmental Expert Warns Of 'Unconstrained' Land Use
Yaroslavl-based environmental expert Yevgenii Kolbovskii told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau at a conference in Tatarstan on 9 December that he believes Russians are "unable to fully protect their interests as a single social group, allowing the unconstrained use of land by a small group of people." Kolbovskii suggested possible ways of solving the problem through improved definitions of public and private land, citing a number of dubious land sales among Russia's regions, including Tatarstan. Republican Environment and Natural Resources Minister Boris Petrov told RFE/RL 's Kazan bureau that his ministry is often criticized for its bureaucracy when combating environmental and health violations by builders.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Conference Considers Possible Regional Mergers
Natalya Zubareva, regional program director of the Moscow-based Independent Institute of Social Policies, said on 9 December that merging the existing regions in Russia to establish new, expanded territorial entities -- as proposed by some politicians -- needs greater consideration in order to prevent the emergence of new problems rather than resolving the old ones, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Zubareva was speaking at a conference organized by Bashinform news agency and the NGO Open Russia. She suggested that in some cases it would bring positive results if minor entities were merged together, while among the ethnic republics and regions of the North Caucasus, the same actions might bring unpredictable results.

Tatar Rights Movement To Protest Results Of 2002 Census
Following the recent publication of the 2002 results for Bashkortostan suggesting a major rise in the ethnic Bashkir population and a decrease in the number of ethnic Tatars, republican media have produced numerous articles suggesting that Tatar-dominated regions in the northwest of Bashkortostan have a historical Bashkir background, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 December. The official press also cited Bashkir history and ethnology researcher Rail Quzeyev as saying that 1989 census, which indicated 22 percent of Bashkortostan's population is ethnic Bashkir, included incorrect information "because there could not be less than 35-40 percent Tatars." Zagyr Khekimov, the head of the Tatar national and cultural autonomy in Bashkortostan, told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent the same day that the republic's Tatar civic movement will dispute the official results of the census, which in their opinion misrepresented the actual situation with respect to Bashkortostan's population.

Public Groups Join Move For Women's Rights
On 9 December Bashkortosan Republic joined a workwide campaign of "16 days against violence against women" from 25 November to 10 December by opening an exhibition of the posters from the US and Russia's family crisis centers, promoting the right of women to live without violence. The exhibition's opening was attended by the youth initiatives support center under the Bashkir republican refugees society, female rights organizations "Bireshme!" , "Zhenskaya Initsiativa" and "Ungay", which will laos sign a special peitition to be sent to president Vladimir Putin.

Bashkir Youth Names Priorities In Life
The republican youth information center of Bashkortostan's government held a poll among young people of the republic for revealing what thy considered most important in their lives, Volgainform reported on 9 December. Most of those polled from 24 to 30 percent named halth and family as major values, while the possibility of self-realization, self-harmony and love were named as most important by 19.2, 14.3 and 12. 6 percent respectively. Nive percent of those polled concentrated on their career, while 1.6 percent of respondents stated that life makes no sense.

Muslim Leader Exchanges Greetings With Bashkir President
Chairman of the Ufa-based Russia's Muslim Religious Board Telget Safa Tajeddin addressed a letter to president Murtaza Rakhimov stating his gratitude for congratulations with the board's 215th anniversary and his attention and support to the board's effors for implementing the ideals of peace and consent, presodetial press service reported on 9 December.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi