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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 18, 2003

18 August 2003
Minister Hints At Drawbacks In Ethnic Education...
Education Minister Faris Kharisov told a conference of Tatarstan's teachers in Chally on 14 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 August 2003) that the republic needs "a stable system of continuous education in the native [Tatar] language, including the stages of preschool, elementary school, high school, higher and professional education," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Kharisov said that in the regions outside Tatarstan, Tatar communities tend to introduce their native language in local schools, "while in a number of Tatarstan's regions not a single Tatar-teaching kindergarten was opened in the last 10 years." Farisov also noted that not all of Tatarstan's universities allow students to pass entrance examinations in Tatar. He appealed to the heads of Tatarstan's city and regional administrations asking them to give special attention to Tatar-language teaching.

...As Russian Official Praises Tatarstan's Investments In Education
Valerii Gribanov, an official representative of the Russian Education Ministry, told the same conference that Tatarstan is one of the leading regions in promoting the use of computers in schools. He said that currently in Tatarstan there is a personal computer for every 36 children, "while recently Russia's task was to offer at least one per 80 pupils." According to Gribanov, Tatarstan also leads those regions, which are spending more on education than the federal budget. He emphasized that the republic has one of the highest number of new schools.

Security Services Check Migrants For Possible Terrorist Links
A month-long antiterrorist operation conducted by Tatarstan's branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Interior Ministry has focused on checking seasonal workers coming to the republic from the Caucasus and CIS countries, Intertat reported on 15 August. Since Operation Fatima began, more than 40,000 people have been found in violation of immigration laws and some officials have received punishments for violating registration rules. In addition, firearms and explosives were confiscated during the operation.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Calls For Market-Based Approach To Education
Addressing a meeting of Bashkortostan's teachers on 15 August, President Murtaza Rakhimov said that according to federal legislation, from 2004 Russia's regions will be responsible for paying teachers' salaries and for school maintenance, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. He said the traditional methods of financing will not be efficient enough for the situation and called for using "market mechanisms [and] new principles of financing" the education sphere. He added that educational institutions should receive funding according to the volume and quality of their services.

Rakhimov added that his government has almost tripled its annual investments in education since 1998, with 8.7 billion rubles ($290 million) from the republic's 2002 budget going toward education.

State News Agency Criticizes Opposition Media Coverage Of Rakhimov
According to a 15 August report by the state-owned Bashinform news agency, some media in Bashkortostan have focused on "blackening the biography, health, family, and work" of President Rakhimov in the run-up to this year's elections. The agency pointed to opposition weekly "Vybor naroda" drawing similarities between Rakhimov and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bashinform noted that many people are nostalgic for the stability and welfare associated with Brezhnev's rule.

The agency also described Rakhimov as a "workaholic, whose mobility is an example to many federal officials who rarely leave their offices." Meanwhile, the opposition agency commented on Rakhimov's regular trips across Bashkortostan accompanied by numerous state media correspondents and photographers by saying, "Every ruler must, if not care for his people, than at least demonstrate his care."

Moscow Funds Bulk Of Bashkortostan's Agricultural-Machinery-Leasing Program
Bashkortostan's Bashselkhoztekhnika received 170 million rubles ($5.6 million) from the federal government for leasing agricultural machinery in 2003, RosBalt reported on 15 August. Meanwhile, Bashselkhoztekhnika received 70 million rubles ($2.3 million) from the republican government in 2003.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi