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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 8, 2003

8 July 2003
Research Center Names Unified Russia Most Influential Party In Tatarstan
Professor Dmitrii Olshanskii, head of the Center for Strategic Analysis and Prognosis, told a press conference in Kazan on 7 July that a poll carried out by the center had found that the Unified Russia party was the most influential in the republic, Intertat reported the same day. The party was followed by the Communist Party, the right-wing Yabloko and Union of Rightist Forces, and the People's Party led by Gennadii Raikov. Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party, the Pensioners' Party, Russia's United Industrial Party, and the Agrarian Party were all on the fringes. Olshanskii emphasized that despite the wide range of parties, opposition forces are weak in Tatarstan, which, in his opinion, does not help the consolidation of democracy. He also warned that the upcoming December elections for the Russian State Duma may face an unprecedented, low turnout, as some surveys have suggested only 25 percent of potential voters will take part.

Government Concerned By Unequal Distribution Of University Graduates
Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva told a government meeting on 7 July that although more than 20,000 university graduates enter the republic's labor market annually, exceeding the actual demand for specialists with higher education by more than three times, Tatarstan's rural areas still face a shortage of such specialists, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Even in the Kazan Agricultural Academy the majority of graduates prefer to stay in the cities and less than 30 percent take jobs in rural areas. Welieva suggested the introduction of contracts that will tie university students to companies from their entry. Meanwhile, rectors of the republic's universities complained at the same meeting that none of the Tatar ministries or major industrial companies had managed to present lists of specialists they will need in the years to come, which could prevent more unemployed graduates in the future.

Tatar Government Delegation Visits Colorado
A government delegation led by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov left for a three-day visit to Denver, Colorado on 7 July to promote economic cooperation and investment in the republic, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Tatar officials are reportedly planning to meet the managers of the Lockheed Martin and Boeing aeronautics companies. In January, Colorado's governor Bill Owens visited Kazan. Since 1999, the United States has been Tatarstan's eighth-biggest major foreign-trade partner; in 2002, mutual trade increased by 4 percent compared to the previous year, reaching $62.4 million. Tatarstan imports U.S.-made mechanical and electrical equipment and measurement instruments; it exports synthetic rubber, black metals, ethylene, and rubber tires to the United States.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Independent Tatar Organizations Question Outcome Of Tatar Congress In Bashkortostan
The Kazan ethnological monitoring center led by Damir Iskhakov, along with leaders of Tatar rights movement in Bashkortostan, held a briefing to sum up the results of Bashkortostan's second Tatar Congress, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 8 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 July 2003). Ayrat Giniyatullin, chairman of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Bashkortostan, said that despite declarations of the government's support for the Tatar population in the republic, state-owned republican media concentrated on anti-Tatar propaganda, saying that there are no Tatars in Bashkortostan and there are only misrepresented Bashkirs. Zahir Khekimov, leader of the National Cultural Autonomy of Tatars in Bashkortostan and former head of the Tatar People's Front, added that "we have no freedom of speech, we can't publish our newspaper in Bashkortostan, and there is no opportunity to make a statement on the TV or radio." Both Giniyatullin and Khekimov were prevented from participating in the congress by Bashkir authorities.

During the same press conference Rimzil Weliev, chairman of the Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Tatars in Russia and deputy chairman of the World Tatar Congress Executive Committee, questioned the lawfulness of the government-run congress, which despite its charter involved numerous Bashkir government officials of non-Tatar nationality as delegates.

Rakhimov Meets With Head Of Moscow-Based Tatar-Bashkir Society
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met with the president of the Moscow-based Watanim Tatar-Bashkir society, internationally acknowledged surgeon Rinat Akchurin, in Ufa on 7 July, the presidential press service reported. After the meeting Akchurin said that Rakhimov accepted with understanding his initiative of establishing a Watanim office in Ufa. He added that during the meeting Rakhimov was as always cheerful, active, and in excellent physical shape.

Air-Traffic Controllers Warn Of Another Strike
Air-traffic controllers of the republic's Bashaeronavigatsiya company are ready to join the nationwide air controllers' strike planned for August, RosBalt reported on 7 July, citing the chairman of the republic's air-traffic controllers' trade union, Valentin Osadchenko. Osadchenko said that the strike last December did not bring the expected results, because the controllers' salaries were increased by only 28 percent instead of being doubled.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi