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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 8, 2002

8 January 2002
President Addresses Tatarstan Residents On Orthodox Christmas
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev greeted Orthodox Christian residents in the republic on 7 January, saying their religion is "a consolidating moral factor of inter-ethnic and inter-faith consent in our multi-ethnic republic." Together with his best wishes on the holiday, the president stated his belief that "all of us, regardless of our social, ethnic, or confessional identities, have to do our utmost to ensure our peaceful co-existence in the new millennium."

Tatar Magazine Publishes Historical Documents On Baptized Tatars
The recent issue of Tatar "Gasirlar Avazi" historical quarterly published appeals from forcibly baptized Tatars to Russian tsars asking them to allow their return to Islam during the 19th century, RFE/RL's Kazan correspondent quoted on 7 January. The magazine also presented the reports of Russian officials in Kazan complaining that many local Tatars "opposed" Christianity, naming the activists suspected of "inciting" the return to Islam.

Hermitage Brings Islamic Culture Exhibition To Kazan
Russia's Hermitage museum will open a temporary exhibition devoted to ancient and modern Islamic art in the Kazan National Culture Center on 9 January. One day before the opening, Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovskii will lecture on "Distorted Image of Islam as an Element of European Culture" at Kazan State University Hall. He will also meet the university's acting rector, Nail Zamov, along with the director of the History Institute and an adviser to Tatarstan's president, Rafail Khakimov. Before his arrival in Kazan, Piotrovskii told reporters that the exhibition is expected to attract broad interest from Tatarstan residents because Islam is being revived not only as a religion but also as part of Tatars' public and spiritual life.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Orthodox Christmas Celebrations In Bashkortostan
President Murtaza Rakhimov addressed the Orthodox Christians of Bashkortostan on 7 January, greeting them on Christmas and wishing them success in their deeds toward the republic's and Russian Federation's prosperity. The head of the Orthodox Church in Bashkortostan, Sterlitamaq Archbishop Nikon, also issued a greeting to the faithful. The supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, Talgat Tadjuddin, broke with several years of Christmas greetings and didn't issue any this year, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported.

Rakhimov Widely Greeted With Christmas This Year
President Rakhimov's Christmas mailbag contained greetings from former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, the Russian government office, the country's major oil companies, and the heads of neighboring regions, RFE/RL reported from Ufa on 7 January. Rakhimov is reported not to have received any message from Russian President Vladimir Putin or Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev.

Bashkortostan's Kryashens Approve Moscow Plans To Split Tatars In Census
The head of the Kryashen (Baptized Tatar) community in Bashkortostan, Yevgenii Artemiev, approved the plan by the Russian government to register Kryashens as a separate ethnic group rather that Tatars, as in previous censuses, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 7 January. More than 10,000 Kryashens reside in the republic, some 9,000 of them in the Bakali region.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi