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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 11, 2002

11 January 2002
Presidential Envoy Calls For Protecting Traditional Islam
In an interview with Interfax on 9 January, presidential envoy to the Volga district Sergei Kirienko called for strengthening the principles of traditional Islam in Russian in order to prevent the penetration of Islamic radicalism in the country. Kirienko stressed that disturbing processes are taking place in the Russian Islamic environment. He said several hundred religious leaders have returned over the past few years to Russia after training in Arabic countries, including in Saudi Arabia. They then begin spreading radical variants of Islam like Wahhabism which are alien to Russian Muslims and propagate national and religious intolerance, Kirienko said. Another serious problem is the change of generations in the Russian Islamic elite, he added.

Moscow's Position On Power-Sharing Treaty Still Uncertain
Midkhat Kurmanov, the chairman of the State Council's Commission on Legislation, Legality, Regulations, and Deputies' Ethics, told a news conference on 9 January that the new version of the Tatarstan Constitution is ready but Moscow still has not clarified its position on the role of the bilateral power-sharing treaty. In other comments, Kurmanov said the Russian Code on Administrative Violations adopted recently by the Duma is much stricter than the corresponding republican legislation. The republican parliament will have to revise 21 laws to bring them into conformity with the code, he said.

Vatican Says Conditions Of Holy Icon Return Under Discussion
Tatarstan leaders again appealed to the Vatican to return the Kazan Divine Mother icon, "Blagovest-info" reported on 10 January. Vatican representatives said they will return the object of worship only to the Russian Orthodox Church, to which it belongs by right. The agency cited the Vatican press service as reporting on 7 January that conditions of the return of the icon to Kazan are still being discussed.

Will Tatarstan Purchase National Domain?
"Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 10 January that the number of Internet users in the republic totals not more than 35,000, some 50-90 percent less than even in the neighboring Volga district entities, such as the Nizhnii Novgorod and Samara oblasts. The paper criticized the idea of the purchase by Tatarstan of a national "first-level" domain being discussed in the republic. The daily also said that there is no difference which Tatar script, Latin or Cyrillic, is used in Tatar Internet sites.

Genealogical Dictionary Of Kazan Nobility Published
Tatarstan's National Archive has published a genealogical dictionary, "Kazan Nobility," which describes genealogies of 1,558 families of the Kazan Gubernia, "Respublika Tatarstan" reported on 9 January. Nine Tatar noble families -- Alkins, Aleevs, Vagizovs, Yermukhametovs, Sainovs, Muratovs, Khalfins, Yunusovs, and Elmurzins -- were included in the book.

Tatarstan Light Industry Manufacturers Present Production In Orenburg
A fair of Tatarstan light industry production opened in Orenburg, VolgaInform reported on 10 January. The event was arranged within the framework of a cooperation agreement between Kazan and Orenburg signed the previous year. Tatar literature, an art exhibit, and an exposition devoted to Kazan's millennium are also being presented.

Telephone Prices Increased
Telephone prices will be raised in Tatarstan as of 15 January, the second time over the past year, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 9 January. The subscriber's fee will be increased from 40 to 46 rubles, while per minute price will be raised from 8.2 to 9.3 kopecks. The Communications Ministry commented that even the increased tariffs will cover only 80 percent of the services' cost.

Tatarstan's Muslims Preparing For Hajj
"Vechernyaya Kazan" on 9 January reported that Tatarstan's pilgrims will pay $1,580 for their trip to Mecca this year. Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board has begun forming groups for hajj.

Another Group Letter Protests Latinization
The Federation Council staff addressed to the Tatarstan presidential administration a letter of 156 young scientists and students from Kazan higher-educational institutions protesting the introduction of the Latin Tatar script and with a call "to stop this action initiated by nationalists." The letter was sent to the Russian president, the Federation Council, and the Duma. Nail Garipov, the head of the Young Scientists Council, whose name is among the signatories, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 9 January that he did not sign the letter, and called the letter "a provocation."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Government Establishes Joint Bashkir-Austrian Paper Mill
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov held a government meeting on creating a joint Bashkir-Austrian paper mill in Ufa, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 10 January. The republican budget plans to invest 25 million euros in the project.

Social Democratic Party Of Russia Forms Branch In Bashkortostan
The Russian Social Democratic Party in Bashkortostan has held its founding conference, Bashinform reported on 10 January. The new party merged the local branches of the Russian Party of Social Democracy and the Russian United Social-Democratic Party headed by Samara Governor Konstantin Titov and ex-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, respectively. The party's stated aims are an open, fair, and democratic society; integration of common human, social-democratic, and liberal values; and equal opportunity for all along with protection of the weak and needy. The conference elected Viktor Rezyapov, the director of Bashkirenergo's technical college, as leader of the party's republican branch.

Trade Union Leaders Told That Municipal Services Hikes Are On The Way
Housing and Municipal Services Minister Pavel Kachkaev told a meeting of the Bashkortostan Trade Unions Federation's presidium that full payment for municipal services will be introduced either in 2003, according to plans of the Russian government, or in 2006, as trade unions would like, Bashinform reported on 10 January. Trade union leaders stressed that salary rises must outstrip growth in fees while housing costs must reflect residents' incomes.

Ethnic Chechen Describes Chechnya In Hands Of Federal Forces
Lomali Israilov, the head of Bashkortostan's Chechen Cultural Center, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 10 January that it is impossible to pass federal forces' checkpoints in Chechnya without paying money. Israilov who has just returned from a trip to Chechnya, said the "tariff" is 50 rubles for each checkpoint. Israilov said he was shocked by the sight of a demolished Grozny. Israilov reported numerous cases of federal servicemen taking young Chechen men from their homes, never to return. A mother of five in the Urus-Martan district told him that one night, Russian militants took away her three sons and the next day killed them. Federal forces later killed her fourth son during a military operation in the village. The woman, whom he identified as "Elbieva," said Russian militants mistook him for a fighter, since he had scars from an accident, and ignored the health certificate she presented. Elbieva appealed to Russian authorities to find and punish her sons' killers.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova