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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 15, 2002

15 January 2002
Federal Minister Says 'Russian Islam' Must Take Shape
Russia's minister without portfolio for nationality issues, Vladimir Zorin, said agitation among Muslims in Russia is currently his sector's most acute problem, reported on 14 January. The comments came at Zorin's meeting with leaders of the national-cultural autonomies of Tyumen Oblast. Zorin said the struggle for a "Russian Islam" has begun, adding it is not yet clear if this religion will take a similar form to that in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. He added that the state is responsible for the rights of each of its citizens and should fight extremism and criminality. He said that, in order to avoid interethnic conflicts, partnerships between the state and religious associations should be developed. During his visit, Zorin made a donation to the restoration of Orthodox monuments in Tyumen Oblast.

Tatarstan Seeking Investors For Kazan Millennium Celebrations
Financing the federal preparations for Kazan's millennium celebrations will total some 16.8 billion rubles ($560 million) in the current year, Tatar-inform reported on 14 January. More than 2 billion rubles will come from the republican budget, and some 1.12 billion from the federal budget. Last year, the program cost those entities 3.2 billion rubles and 1 billion rubles, respectively. The estimates came at a meeting of the republican commission on preparations for the jubilee held by Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev.

Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov stressed the need to provide favorable conditions to attract investors to the program, adding that contracts for the reconstruction of 131 historical buildings will be awarded through tenders. President Shaimiev warned of squandering money provided for events, conferences, and publications.

More Tatarstan Banks Offering Euros
Ak Bars Bank representative Rinat Yusupov told "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 12 January that demand for euros at his bank was 30 percent lower than that for dollars in the past two weeks. Ak Bars Bank was the first bank in Kazan to begin operating with euros. Several more banks have received banknotes in the new currency in recent days, the daily added.

U.S. Ex-Im Bank Involved In Tatarstan Projects
Ak Bars Bank's press service reported that the bank enjoyed support from the U.S. Ex-Im Bank for a combined $12 million in projects -- including the construction of a four-star hotel in Kazan and arranging a casein production line -- Tatar-inform reported on 14 January.

KalmTatneft Plans To Increase Oil Production
KalmTatneft, a joint venture between Tatneft and Kalmykia's Kalmneft, produced 2,282 tons of oil and 417,872 cubic meters of gas by the end of 2001, reported on 14 January. The company plans to extract 10,000 tons of oil this year. The venture, established in May 2000, possesses 12 oil wells in the Tasha and Manychskoe oil fields, the agency said.

HIV Infection In Tatarstan Is Above Russian Average
The number of HIV carriers totaled 2,738, or 72 per 100,000 people, in Tatarstan in 2001, Tatar-inform reported on 14 January. That is 2.8 times the 2000 rate, the agency added. In Russia, the number of infected residents increased by 60 percent to 90,214, or 60 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Ulyanovsk Muslim Board Seeks To Merge With Tatarstan Counterpart
The head of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board, Gusman Iskhakov, and Ulyanovsk and Ulyanovsk Oblast Mufti Fatykh Alliulov met and discussed preparations for a Tatarstan Muslims congress due to be held on 2 February, reported on 14 January. Alliulov represents one of two Muslim boards active in the oblast. The two leaders also talked about the possible merger of Alliulov's Ulyanovsk board with the Tatarstan Muslim organization. Iskhakov said such a proposal needs to be studied carefully.

Tatarstan Sends Humanitarian Aid To Chechen Children
Tatarstan residents contributed 300,000 rubles' ($1,000) worth of humanitarian aid to a Russia-wide action to help Chechen refugees and children, Tatar-inform reported on 14 January. Some 130,000 rubles was collected by the Chally Tatar Public Center, the agency said.

KamAZ Team Wins Paris-Dakar Rally
The KamAZ Master crew from Chally won the Paris-Dakar rally in its category, reported on 14 January. Tatarstan racers were first in 10 of 13 laps and outstripped their closest rivals, in a Czech Tatra truck, by some 4.5 hours.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Academic Says Bashkortostan's Constitution Complies With Russian Law
Moscow International Relations Institute (MGIMO) professor Sergei Shakhrai said on 14 January that the new version of the Bashkortostan Constitution "conforms to the Russian Constitution 99.9 percent," Bashinform reported on 14 January. Shakhrai delivered a lecture on constitutional federalism and the development of Russian statehood at a seminar for Bashkortostan's administration heads in Ufa. He called the position of the Prosecutor-General's Office, which has protested 55 paragraphs of Bashkortostan's amended constitution, "incomprehensible." He said the republic could successfully defend its constitution in any Russian court, including the Constitutional Court, and called on republican lawyers and legislators to more actively defend their position.

Shakhrai said federal districts are beleaguered by Russian disintegration since oligarchs began establishing closer relations with presidential envoys, who will shed Moscow's influence as soon as they become more independent financially.

He criticized the current structure of the Federation Council in which he says oligarchs have replaced regional representatives. Shakhrai said oligarchs will lobby for the interests of their companies rather than of federation members, so conflict between the Federation Council and the Russian Duma is inevitable. He added that he believes President Vladimir Putin will declare elections for Federation Council senators as soon as 2003.

Fall In Oil Production Dubbed Main Problem Of Bashkortostan Economy
First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Sigakov said 2001 was successful for the republican economy, providing 6 percent industrial growth, Bashinform reported on 14 January. Roughly 1.4 million square meters of housing were constructed in the republic last year, he added. Sigakov noted, however, that back wages and reductions in the mining of oil and other natural resources remain top problems for the republican economy. He also called for the development of new technologies and increases in production quality.

Federal Trade Union Leader Lauds Bashkortostan Allies
Aleksei Surikov, the deputy head of the Russian Independent Trade Unions Federation, praised the activities of Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation on the development of social partnership and the promotion of collective and tripartite agreements, Bashinform reported on 14 January. Speaking at a meeting of union activists in Ufa, Surikov said his federation unites 38 million members representing 48 branches throughout Russia.

Education Minister Outlines Advantages Of United State Exam
Bashkortostan Education Minister Galiya Mukhamedyanova told Bashinform on 14 January that the single state exam being introduced throughout the country provides several advantages for students, including more objective evaluation, less physical and psychological stress, and equal access to universities for entrants from all over the federation. A test united state exam is due to be held in Bashkortostan this month.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova