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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 17, 2003

17 January 2003
Parliamentary Commission Adopts Draft Appeal To Russian Constitutional Court On Alphabet Issue

The State Council Commission on Science, Education, Culture, and National Issues recommended on 16 January that the Tatar parliament to appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court about the alphabet controversy, reported the same day. The commission approved a draft inquiry that asks if a provision of the federal law on the languages of the peoples of Russia, which proclaims Cyrillic as the mandatory script for all state languages and only allows the usage of other scripts if proscribed by federal law, conforms to the Russian Constitution. The commission argued that under the Russian Constitution, determining the alphabet of a state language is beyond Moscow's power or even the joint powers of Russia and its subjects, while republics are empowered to establish their state languages and all peoples are guaranteed the right to preserve, study, and develop their native languages. Thus, the commission continued, republics are empowered to resolve issues on native languages of titular nations on their own. It concluded that Tatarstan's 1999 law on the restoration of the Latin-based Tatar alphabet conforms to Article 76 of the Russian Constitution, so it should remain in force despite the fact that it contradicts the federal law.

The commission also discussed a proposal by the State Council's Legal Board to develop and introduce to the Russian State Duma a draft federal law on the introduction of the Tatar Latin script.

Tatneft And Tatar Government To Gain Controlling Interest In Ukrtatnafta

Tatneft has won its lawsuit against Ukrainian officials to establish control over shares of Ukrtatnafta, Ukraine's leading oil refinery, and will be able to increase its stake in the company to 26.9 percent this month, "Vedomosti" reported on 17 January. Tatneft currently owns 8.61 percent in Ukrtatnafta, 43.1 percent belongs to Ukraine�s State Property Fund (FGI), while Tatarstan's State Property Committee controls 28.78 percent. FGI had been contesting ownership of two off-shore companies close to Tatneft -- the U.S. Sea Group International and the Swiss Am Ruz Trading -- of an 18.29 percent stake in Ukrtatnafta. In December, a Poltava Oblast court rejected an appeal by the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office against the participation of those companies in Ukrtatnafta.

At their meeting on 15 January, Ukrtatnafta shareholders dismissed the head of the company's board, Sergei Pereloma, and replaced him with Vladimir Fedotov, who reportedly represents the interests of Tatneft on the board. At the meeting, Tatneft was entrusted to vote with shares of Am Ruz and the Sea Group. The daily cited unnamed Tatneft representatives as saying that the Ukrtatnafta observation council is expected to approve selling shares of Am Ruz and Sea Group to Tatneft at a meeting slated for 31 January.

Businessman Suspected Of Involvement In Rival's Murder Is Freed
Prosecutors released Kamil Terjemanov, the director of the Salavat travel agency, who was arrested on 13 January in the course of an investigation into the death of Inturtsentr travel agency Commercial Director Rudolf Shadrin (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 13 and 16 January 2003), reported on 16 January, citing the Tatar Prosecutors' Office. Prosecutors said they did not collect enough evidence on Terjemanov's involvement in the killing. The website also cited Inturtsentr General Director Marsel Musin, who said it is unlikely that competition between travel agencies is behind the killing, since such an action provides no advantages for business.

Crimean Tatars Demand Cossack Unit Be Disbanded
Some 400 Crimean Tatars living in the Morskoe village near the town of Sudak in Crimea held a meeting on 16 January near the local administration building demanding that a Cossack unit be disbanded, reported on 17 January citing Ekho Moskvy. At the same time, some 200 local residents held a meeting to defend Cossacks near the Palace of Culture in Morskoe. The Crimean government's chairman and chief of police arrived in Morskoe and units of police and Interior Ministry troops were sent to the village. The situation recently deteriorated during a confrontation between Cossacks and Crimean Tatars in which several people were injured.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Cabinet Releases Program For Ethnic Policies In Republic
The Bashkir Cabinet of Ministers has approved a state program called "The Peoples of Bashkortostan" for the period from 2003 to 2012, Bashinform reported on 16 January. The program sets out principles for the formulation of nationalities policies in the republic and also provides data on the 12 most populous ethnic groups in Bashkortostan. The program was prepared by the Bashkir Academy of Sciences; the Center for Ethnological Research; and the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of the Ufa branch of the Russian Academy Sciences.

Ministry Announces Increase In Tax Collection
The head of the Bashkir Administration of the Russian Tax Ministry, Reshit Sattarov, told a press conference on 16 January that the republic collected 61.4 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) in taxes in 2002, an increase of 17.5 percent in comparison with the previous year.

UralSib To Hike Charter Capital
UralSib Bank is planning to increase its charter capital by as much as one-third through an upcoming share issue, RosBalt reported on 15 January, citing the bank's press service. The Bashkir government owns more than 50 percent of the shares in the bank, which recently increased its capitalization to 5.7 billion rubles.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi