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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 30, 2003

30 December 2003
Shaimiev Attends Rakhimov's Inauguration
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev attended the inauguration ceremony of Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov, who officially began his third term in office on 29 December, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. Shaimiev said in his speech that the people of Tatarstan considered Bashkortostan "a brotherly republic, which is dealing with the same difficulties and walking hand-in-hand with us." He emphasized Bashkortostan's and Tatarstan's role in shaping Russia's federalism; constitutional, ethnic, and religious policies; and its relations with Islamic countries.

Shaimiev said Tatars of the Bashkortostan and Tatarstan republics "have accepted with great satisfaction" Rakhimov's pre-election statement on his intention to grant special status to the Tatar language in his republic. "This," Shaimiev said, "is a guarantee of the further strengthening of our mutual understanding and friendship between our brotherly peoples."

As a gift to his Bashkir counterpart, Shaimiev presented to him a portrait of the famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nuriev, who began his career in Ufa and Kazan, drawn by the chairman of Tatarstan's Artists Union, ethnic Bashkir Abrek Abzguildin. Also on 29 December, footage of Rakhimov's inauguration was shown on Bashkir Satellite Television, which cut the above-mentioned Shaimiev speech, leaving only his greetings and reference to the brotherly relations between the two republics.

First Mortgages Issued In Kazan
Tatarstan's Mortgage Housing Agency, in cooperation with Intekhbank of Kazan, held a ceremony presenting its first loans to the families of retired Russian Army officers Andrei Tarasov and Sergei Badyarov. The newly established agency, owned by Tatarstan's government and Tatstroi construction company, has already received 700 applications for long-term, low-interest loans in the last month.

The new program offering mortgages will help each family capable of contributing 1,400 rubles ($48) per month for a single-room apartment over 10-15 years (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 December 2003).

Bad Roads Responsible For 20 Percent Of Traffic Accidents
The head of Tatarstan's Traffic Police, Rifket Minnikhanov, told a cabinet meeting on 29 December that in 2003, 20 percent of the 5,600 registered road accidents occurred due to the bad condition of roads, Intertat reported the same day. Driver error was blamed for 74 percent. Also, by December 38 children died in traffic accidents in 2003 and 710 were injured.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Says Presidential Elections Were Triumph Of Democracy...
Presidential elections in Bashkortostan were "a genuine festival for the people" and "a triumph of democracy," Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said during his inauguration ceremony on 29 December, RosBalt reported the same day. Rakhimov thanked the people of Bashkortostan for trusting him for a third time. "Providing a decisive support for our political course, the people determined further development of the republic, construction of a strong democratic state with a socially oriented economy," Rakhimov said. He also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin played an important role. Rakhimov said the republic's leadership will not undertake "superficial and ungrounded reforms" as "some apologies for politicians advise under the pretence of the necessity to renovate the republic." He criticized the activities of "some public leaders and political forces" who took the opportunity during the electoral campaign "to play the ethnic and religious card, to drive a wedge between the biggest nationalities and confessions in the republic, and to upset the centuries-old friendship of our peoples." "The people appeared to have a strong immunity against such actions," Rakhimov said. He promised to strengthen the economy, to raise people's wealth, to double the country's gross domestic product (GDP), to continue the construction of housing, roads, social objects, sport facilities, and to fight red tape, corruption, criminality, and drug addiction. Rakhimov won the second round of the presidential election on 21 December with 78 percent of the vote.

...While Receiving Gifts
At the inauguration ceremony, presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko presented Rakhimov with a beehive, which he said was a "symbol of diligence and peoples' friendship." Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev gave Rakhimov a portrait of a famous Tatar dancer. Udmurt President Aleksandr Volkov presented Rakhimov with a bottle of vodka shaped like a Kalashnikov assault rifle, while Russian Olympic Committee Chairman Leonid Tyagachev gave him a voucher for attendence at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel presented a chess set made of malachite, which he said symbolized "Byzantine thinking."

Shaimiev Again Raises Status Of Tatar Language In Bashkortostan
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said nationalities policy is a key issue in Russia that is to be well thought out and must take into account the interests of many peoples. Shaimiev said, "we will not agree with attempts to deprive us of the right of choosing a way for the native language to develop, whether this concerns the alphabet or other attributes." He praised Rakhimov's promise to raise the status of the Tatar language in Bashkortostan, saying this will be a contribution to further strengthening the friendship between the Bashkir and Tatar peoples. Shaimiev also said that the "problems of Islamic-Christian relations are especially sensitive" in both republics.

Appeal To Annul Presidential Election Results Heard In Court
The Bashkir Supreme Court began on 29 December hearing an appeal by Federation Council Senator from Altai Republic and former presidential candidate Relif Safin to annul the results of the Bashkir presidential elections, RosBalt reported the same day. Safin presented to the court materials concerning over 700 alleged violations in more than 100 polling districts. Safin has said that he was cheated out of 100,000 votes. In the 7 December first round of the elections, Safin came in third with 23 percent of the vote following Rakhimov who garnered 42 percent and former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko who was second with 25 percent.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova