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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 8, 2003

8 April 2003
Kazan Delegation Visits United States
A presentation on Kazan in the American-Russian Business Council devoted to the Tatar capital's upcoming millennium and bilateral cooperation was held during a visit of a Kazan delegation headed by Mayor Kamil Iskhakov to the United States on 2-5 April, reported on 7 April, citing Tatarstan's permanent representation to the U.S. The delegation held talks with World Bank acting Vice President and Director of Operations for Europe and Central Asia Shigeo Katsu, and the bank's Russian Directorate Executive Director Aleksei Kvasov on Kazan's opportunities to obtain a new loan from the bank to prepare for the millennium. The delegation also met with officials in the U.S. Commerce Department and the Smithsonian Institute to negotiate cooperation during preparations for Kazan's jubilee.

Prime Minister Promotes Mortgaged Housing Construction
Speaking at a government meeting on 7 April, Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov called for providing mortgage loans for young families and state employees, Tatarinform reported the same day. Minnikhanov criticized a program on mortgaged housing construction promoted by the Tatar Housing and Municipal Services Ministry, according to which residents will have to cover up to 85 percent of expenses during the construction of apartments. Minnikhanov said the people in question do not have the money to cover construction expenses, adding that the mortgage conditions should be more realistic.

Party Of Life In Tatarstan Holds Congress
Some 300 delegates took part in the first congress of the Party of Life in Tatarstan held on 5 April in Chally, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 7 April. The forum elected 25 delegates to a nationwide party congress scheduled to be held this month in Moscow. Kazan State University Political Science professor Midkhet Faruqshin was elected a co-chairman of the party's Tatar branch. Russian Federation Council Senator from Tatarstan and former Chally Mayor Refget Altynbaev is a Party of Life co-chairman.

Tatar Groups Hold Uniting Forum
More than 100 people took part on 5 April in a forum in Kazan intended to help overcome a split among the Tatar intelligentsia and work out a joint position, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 7 April. However, only representatives of one side in the recent heated conflict in the local media attended the meeting. The event was initiated by several Tatar public groups, including the Tatar Public Center (TIU), the Tatar People's Front on Defense of Sovereignty, and the Tatar Youth Union Azatliq, Tatarinform reported on 7 April. Participants criticized members of the Tatar intelligentsia and national organizations for exchanging sharp criticism and insulting each other in mass media. TIU Deputy Chairman Ildus Sadyiqov said, "We should unite to form a single front for implementation of our demands." The forum appealed to the republic's leadership to provide national organizations with access to television and radio to communicate with the public and clarify their positions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Central Muslim Board Disavows Leader's Declaration Of Jihad Against America...
Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM) in a 7 April statement backed off from statements attributed to board Chairman Telget Tajetdin States (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 and 7 April 2003), Interfax reported the same day. The statement said that "all of the speculation and concoctions around peaceful and humanitarian initiatives of Russia's TsDUM represent a provocation, black public relations [techniques], blasphemy, and an attempt to achieve personal ambitions and profit." The statement expressed "full support" for Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies on the Iraq crisis according to "international law and the UN Charter." The statement also urged Muslims to refrain from "illegal actions, meetings, and demonstrations" and "attend God's temples for praying for peace in Iraq."

The statement also called for a boycott of films from countries in the "anti-Iraqi coalition, which are blasphemous and humiliating for our national dignity." TsDUM also declared that it is now collecting donations for "ensuring humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Iraq."

...As Muslim Leaders Condemn War
Also on 7 April, the Muftis Council of TsDUM of regional religious leaders issued a fatwa condemning the war in Iraq, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The ruling said that the "actions of the anti-Iraqi coalition in Iraq are a blasphemous crime, violation of God's laws, and an attempt to oppose the Creator and take the path of evil." The muftis also declared it the "holy duty of every Muslim in Russia and the entire world" to condemn the military invasion of Iraq and the violation of international law. The document also praised President Putin's stance on resolving the Iraqi crisis.

Bashkir Delegation Visits Germany
A Bashkir governmental delegation led by Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov arrived in Sachsen, Germany, on 7 April for celebrations of the 10th anniversary of a bilateral trade partnership, Bashinform reported yesterday. Along with members of the Bashkir cabinet and State Assembly, the delegation included top managers of 50 leading Bashkir enterprises.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi