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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 7, 2003

7 July 2003
Shaimiev, Zorin Say State National Policy Concept To Be Amended
Implementation of the state national policy and resolutions of the Third World Tatar Congress were on the agenda of a meeting between Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Vladimir Zorin, the Russian minister without portfolio for national policy, on 4 July in Kazan, Tatar-inform and reported the same day. The two agreed that the concept of state national policy needs further development and improvement. Specifically, they emphasized the need to develop corresponding legislation, to take additional measures to promote rights on national language, information, and culture, and to create mechanisms of cooperation between public national organizations and executive and legislative authority bodies. Zorin said that according to the preliminary results of the October census, no one nation or ethnic group had been lost despite the turmoil of the transition period. Their number might even increase, he added. Shaimiev and Zorin also discussed preparations for the celebration of Kazan's millennium in 2005.

Ammunition Agency Head Inspects Defense Companies In Kazan
President Shaimiev met on 5 July in Kazan with visiting Russian Ammunition Agency General Director Viktor Kholstov, reported the same day. Kholstov told reporters following the meeting that measures on improving the financial situation of the Exact Engineering Plant Tochmash and the Kazan Gunpowder Plant were on the agenda. Tatar Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Aleksei Pakhomov, who took part in the meeting, said it was agreed that those plants maintain a strategic importance for Russia's defense. They also proposed developing civil alongside military production. The Yeshel Uzen POZIS Plant was praised for its successful introduction of civil production. Pakhomov added that the republic's defense orders may be increased.

Radical Tatar Group Leader Released
Rafis Kashapov, the leader of the Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center, was released from custody in Kazan on 3 July after spending three months in jail, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported the next day. Kashapov said that he was not interrogated or subjected to any other investigation measures during that period. He said that he believed that taking him into custody was a psychological measure. Kashapov was detained on 25 March for allegedly inciting interethnic, racial, and religious hatred (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 26 March 2003). The criminal investigation against him continues.

FEK Establishes Reduced Energy Tariff For Tatenergo
The Federal Energy Commission (FEK) has reduced the fees for services provided by the Federal Network Company for several energy companies, including Tatenergo, Irkutskenergo, Bashkirenergo, and Dagenergo, Tatar-inform reported on 4 July. Tatenergo will pay 20.8 rubles ($0.69) for 1 megawatt-hour of energy as of 1 July, instead of the normal price of 31.3 rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Justice Ministry Warns Opposition Tatar Organization
The Chief Directorate of the Russian Justice Ministry in Bashkortostan sent materials about the activities of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) to the republic's prosecutor's office, RosBalt reported on 4 July. The head of the directorate's department on registration of public organizations, Aliye Kheibullina, told the news agency that the appeal calls on Bashkir prosecutor Florid Baikov to react to the second warning issued by the directorate against TIU. The warning came in response to TIU's initiative to hold an alternative census in Bashkortostan which allegedly violates the federal law on population censuses. Kheibullina said the warning is the second one issued against TIU this current year. The first one claimed that the organization violated the law on extremist activity by its statement about the "pro-Bashkir nature of the national policy in Bashkortostan" and the demand to introduce ethnic quotas in state bodies (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 July 2003). Repeated warnings as regards TIU may result in the abolishment of the organization through a court verdict, Kheibullina said.

President Rakhimov Issues Decree To Promote Tatar Cultural Needs
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov signed on 4 July a decree on additional measures to satisfy the national cultural needs of the republic's Tatar population, Bashinform reported the same day, citing the presidential press service. The decree came in response to appeals by leading public figures and scholars in the republic. The document recommends that the government study the possibilities of increasing the number of secondary schools in which the Tatar language is taught and instruction is given in Tatar and increasing the number of students accepted to professional secondary and higher schools, which train specialists in the Tatar language and culture. The Education and Press Ministries were charged with developing additional measures by 1 September to publish more Tatar textbooks. The Culture and National Policy Ministry and the republic's Tatar Congress Executive Committee was urged to make suggestions for the development of Tatar art. It was also suggested that the State Television and Radio Company Bashkortostan increased its broadcast in Tatar. Currently Tatar broadcasts total 1 percent of the company's broadcasts. According to the decree, the construction of the Ufa state Tatar theater, Nur, which has been underway for more than a decade, will be completed by October.

Second Tatar Congress In Bashkortostan
Delegates at Bashkortostan's second Tatar Congress, which was held on 6 July in Ufa, denied reports in the Russian press of a conflict between the Tatar and Bashkir population in Bashkortostan and called for strengthening the friendship between the two peoples, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent and RosBalt reported on 6 July. In an appeal to Bashkortostan's residents passed at the forum, such reports were part of "a large-scale campaign of misinformation and a misrepresentation of the real economic and social situation in the republic." Participants said that evoking the "national" issue is linked to the upcoming State Duma and Bashkir presidential elections to be held in December.

Some 600 delegates took part in the congress. The agenda included a report by Congress Executive Committee Chairman Eduard Khemitov on the work already implemented by the congress and the election of new committee members. For the first time a representative from an opposition Tatar organization, Zahir Khekimov, who recently headed Bashkortostan's Tatar People's Front, was elected a member of the congress's new executive committee. The congress is a pro-government Tatar organization established in 1997 and has 37 branches in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova