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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 10, 2003

10 April 2003
Shaimiev Recalls Federation Council Representative...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev announced on 9 April that he will recall ahead of time his representative to the Federation Council, Refget Altynbaev, who also heads the Local Self-Government Committee, and replace him with presidential adviser on socioeconomic issues Filze Khemidullin, Tatarinform reported the same day. Shaimiev submitted a corresponding decree to the Tatar State Council and proposed the parliament consider the issue on 11 April. The decision has to be passed by two-thirds of deputies.

Altynbaev was appointed Federation Council senator in 2001 as compensation for refusing to run for the Tatar presidency and is being dismissed because Shaimiev, a Unified Russia co-chairman, is displeased by Altynbaev's activity as co-chairman of the Party of Life, "Kommersant" commented on 10 April. Recently, saying Altynbaev's name on local television was taboo and the Tatar presidential administration created obstacles for him to arrange public meetings, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 9 April. By dismissing Altynbaev, Shaimiev removed the last threads of influence on him and turned him into an opposition leader with good contacts at the federal level, the daily commented.

...As Party Of Life Tatar Branch Leader Censures Shaimiev
In an article published in "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 8 April, political science professor Midkhet Faruqshin, co-chairman of the Party of Life in Tatarstan, sharply criticized Shaimiev for his "deception of the people" and inability to implement what he promised as Unified Russia co-chairman -- to prevent the increase in energy prices, to raise salaries for state employees, and to restructure debts of agricultural manufacturers. Faruqshin said it is Shaimiev, not the Cabinet of Ministers, who is in fact responsible for the recent 66 percent increase in energy prices in Tatarstan, which he said violates federal law.

Parliament Postpones Appeal To Constitutional Court Against Cyrillic-Only Amendment
Speaking at a Tatar State Council Presidium meeting on 9 April, State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin suggested that a draft appeal of the parliament to the Russian Constitutional Court against the Cyrillic-only amendment to the federal law on peoples of the Russian Federation be dropped from the agenda of the 11 April session, reported the same day. Mukhametshin said the Tatar legislature has sent two other appeals to the Russian Constitutional Court (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 October 2002), one of which was accepted for consideration, adding the parliament will return to the script issue later. The presidium backed the proposal.

WBRD Gives Kazan $200 Million Credit
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov said on 9 April that the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development (WBRD) confirmed that it will provide a $200 million loan to the Kazan administration for implementation of the program on rehabilitation of city environment, reported the same day. Iskhakov, who returned on 9 April from a visit to the United States, said the funds will be spent on reforming Kazan's housing and municipal-services sector. Financial conditions of the credit are to be discussed during a visit of WBRD officials to Kazan scheduled for 16 April, Iskhakov said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Religious Leaders' Council Condemns Tajetdin's Declaration Of Jihad Against America
Russia's Interconfessional Council of Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders convened on 9 April in Moscow to adopt a resolution on joint provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq, Interfax reported the same day. The council also approved the Russian government's initiative of creating "humanitarian corridors for evacuating children and women" from the combat zones of the Iraqi conflict.

The religious leaders reportedly discussed the recent statement by Telget Tajetdin, head of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate (TsDUM), who during a 3 April antiwar demonstration in Ufa declared a jihad against the anti-Iraq coalition countries (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4, 7 and 8 April 2003).

In an official statement, the council ruled that the war in Iraq was not "a clash between Muslims and representatives of other religions," while "the use of religious symbols and terms for escalating the conflict and for involving new participants, especially in Russia, is unacceptable."

Rakhimov Meets With Russian President
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 9 April to discuss Bashkortostan's economic development during the first quarter of 2003, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Rakhimov told Putin that "development is proceeding surprisingly well, as industrial growth reached 8.3 percent. The growth is especially noticeable in the machinery industry."

Bashkir Red Cross Ready To Ship Aid To Iraq
The Bashkir branch of the International Red Cross is ready to ship its first humanitarian load to the Iraqi people, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 9 April. The correspondent sited Yurii Simonov, the head of the Red Cross in Bashkortostan, as saying that his organization so far is the only one with access for distributing aid in Iraq. The Red Cross is currently collecting clothing and footwear, which will be distributed among victims of this year's spring flood in Bashkortostan in case the Emergency Situations Ministry fails to cover for the transportation of aid to Iraq.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi