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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 13, 2003

13 August 2003
Muslim Leader Dissatisfied With Applying Islamic Concepts To Terrorists
Speaking to RIA-Novosti on 12 August, Council of Russian Muftis Chairman Rawil Gainetdin said he considers it illegal for Islamic terms to be used to describe terrorists and their actions. Gainetdin said "using such religious concepts as 'shahid,' 'mojahed,' 'a warrior of Allah,' and others" regarding terrorists is totally incorrect and is aimed at discrediting Islam. "The concepts 'shahid' and 'mojahed' mean a true believer, God-fearing person, for whom killing fellows by faith or people of other faiths is the biggest sin," he said. Usage of those concepts in a negative sense, in particular when calling a suicide-bomber's explosive-laden belt "shahid's belt," distorts the truth and confuses public opinion. Unfortunately journalists, politicians, and law-enforcement officials use similar expressions without any knowledge of the principles, morals, or ideas of the Muslim religion, the mufti said, adding that "the public, as a result, sees in the religion of Islam...a threat to the entire civilized world," which is "a very dangerous trend [that needs] to be halted immediately."

Russian President Addresses Kazan University Jubilee
President Vladimir Putin has signed a resolution on the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the founding of Kazan State University, RIA-Novosti reported on 12 August, citing the presidential press service. The Russian government is charged with establishing a jubilee organizing committee and developing a program for the celebration. The event will be marked in November 2004.

Shaimiev Concerned About Children's Rights
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met on 12 August with Tatar Ombudsman Reshit Wegyizov to discuss human rights issues, reported the same day, citing the presidential press service. The Tatar president paid special attention to the promotion of the rights and interests of children. Shaimiev stressed the role of the ombudsman in the development of NGOs as a part of civil society and asked if state and local officials provide assistance to the human rights representative. Wegyizov discussed the establishment of ombudsman receptions in the republic's raions and cities and the appointment of public assistants to the representative.

Youth Unity Sets Up Branch In Kazan
A Kazan branch of the Russia-wide organization Youth Unity was established at a forum in the Tatar capital on 12 August, Tatar agencies reported the same day. Deputy Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Andrei Kondratyev said at the gathering that the decision to set up the Kazan branch was approved at forums in republic's raions and cities over the past two months. Speaking at the forum, Youth Unity in Tatarstan Chairman Dmitrii Vtorov said the organization has initiated numerous actions promoting a healthy way of life, preservation of culture, the development of science and sports, and the defense of less fortunate people in its three years of activity in the republic. Ildar Bilkeev, the chairman of the Kazan Medical University's student trade union committee and a member of the political council of Unified Russia's Kazan branch, was elected head of Youth Unity in Kazan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ikea To Build Shopping Center In Ufa
Ikea has announced its plan to build a $45 million shopping and entertainment center in Ufa, RosBalt reported on 12 August, citing the Bashkir Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Ministry. Construction should be completed by 2004. The complex will occupy 30 hectares and will include a furniture supermarket, hypermarket, cinema, and cafe. The Ufa center will employ 500 people. Ikea has 160 shopping centers in 22 countries.

Yabloko Head In Bashkortostan Comments On Yabloko Without Yavlinskii Group
Yabloko's leader in Bashkortostan, Igor Rabinovich, told RosBalt on 12 August that "Yabloko without Yavlinskii" members, who began collecting signatures for the dismissal of Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii in Ufa (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 and 12 July 2003), are "following a political order aimed at discrediting and splitting Yabloko." Rabinovich said Yabloko's major rival on the right, the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), is the most interested in Yabloko's split. He added that he doesn't mean the entire SPS, but elements dissatisfied with Yabloko's policy of demonopolization of the economy. He said the Yabloko without Yavlinskii movement will not affect the decision by the Yabloko congress, at which the issue of replacing the leader could be included in the agenda. He added, "The issue on changing the leader of the party arises from time to time but Yavlinskii's dismissal on the eve of elections would be fatal."

Monument To Dead From Local Wars To Be Erected In Ufa
Preparations began in Ufa to erect a monument commemorating Bashkortostan's dead in local wars, Bashinform reported on 12 August. The monument will be located on the site where the memorial plaque to soldiers of the Soviet Afghan campaign was previously. The new monument will feature a sculpture of a mourning mother encircled by plaques with names of the dead. The opening of the monument is set for the Day of Republic.

Teaching Tatar Faces Obstacles In Ufa Schools
Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups are preparing for a conference devoted to the problems of teaching the Tatar language in Bashkortostan planned for 23 August, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 11 August. Tatar movement activist Klara Geliullina told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service the same day that Tatar is taught only in five of the 26 secondary schools of the Ufa Kalinin Raion, while Tatars make up more than half of the raion population. Thus, only 9 percent of Tatar schoolchildren study their native language. Meanwhile, Bashkir classes have been launched in all the secondary schools. Geliullina said that according to data she has collected, only two or three Bashkir children study in Bashkir classes, while the rest are Tatars.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova