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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 21, 2002

21 January 2002
Duma Content To Leave Presidential Titles Unscathed
The Russian State Duma on 18 January effectively confirmed the right of leaders of the constituent units in the federation to call themselves "president." Lawmakers rejected proposed amendments to a law on the formation of legislative and executive powers among federation members, submitted by independent Deputy Yevgenii Ishchenko. His proposals would have prohibited the leaders of those political units, including Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, from using the label "president." Backers believe the federation's only "president" should be the Russian one; currently 13 of the 89 constituent members of the federation use the term. The Committee on Federation Affairs and Regional Policy recommended rejecting the draft, citing a Constitutional Court ruling that confirmed the right of the Mordovian head to be called "president."

Tatars Propose Duma Draft Law On Tatar People
The Tatar World Congress and Duma Deputy Fandas Safiullin have prepared a draft federal law on the Tatar people for submission to the Russian Duma's Committee on Nationalities Affairs, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 18 January. Safiullin told the paper that the draft is an exact copy of a federal law on the Russian people, with the word "Russian" replaced with "Tatar." Safiullin said organizers hoped to impress on others that "Russia is not a state of Russians alone, and each of its more than 100 peoples deserves respect and attention to its interests similar to [that afforded] Russians." Safiullin noted that other ethnic groups could propose similar laws.

Duma Committee Postpones Debate Over Ban On Non-Cyrillic Scripts
The Duma Committee on Nationalities Affairs postponed an upcoming hearing devoted to amendments to a federal language law -- initially scheduled for early February -- to allow for additional research and consultation, Tatar-inform reported on 18 January. The amendments suggest that the peoples of Russia be forbidden to use non-Cyrillic scripts.

Deputy Fandas Safiullin proposed an alternative draft giving all such groups the right to determine their script of choice. Safiullin told Tatar-inform that if the competing draft is adopted, Tatars will lose the right to use the Latin script and the six non-Cyrillic characters they currently utilize. He called the move an encroachment on the natural right of people to use their languages.

Three Duma committees have already issued a resolution saying Tatarstan's switch to the Latin script threatens Russia's integrity. Safiullin said that argument suggests weakness in the federation.

Anthology Of Tatar Folklore, Literature Published In Turkey
A three-volume edition of Tatar folklore and literature has been published in Turkey in the Tatar and Turkish languages, "Zaman" reported on 18 January. Academician Mirfatykh Zakiev told the weekly that the publication is part of a 40-volume collection of works on Turkic folklore and literature initiated by the Turkish Culture Ministry. The print-run was 3,000 copies.

Opposition Parties Criticize Division Of Tatar Nation In Census
A roundtable of opposition parties and organizations in Tatarstan, including communists and pro-Moscow democrats, protested the division of Tatars into several groups in the 2002 census, Tatar-inform reported on 18 January. Participant Zukhra Aisina said the organization considers such moves by federal authorities a policy aimed against national republics.

KAPO To Modernize 15 Bombers...
Tatarstan's Gorbunov KAPO has received a major order from the federal Defense Ministry to modernize 15 Tu-160 supersonic bombers, representing half of Russia's heavy-bomber fleet, "Izvestia" reported on 18 January. The daily cited military experts as saying that eight of the aircraft were delivered from Ukraine as payment to Russia for gas, but many are not combat-ready. The agreement was reached during a visit by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in late 2001. The Kazan Aviation Plant also has three similar, unfinished bombers. Meanwhile, "Kommersant" on 18 January reported that less than half of the military aircraft in Russia are in proper order.

...And Join Tupolev Holding
Gorbunov KAPO will join the Tupolev holding that unites producers of "Tu" series aircraft, Tatar-inform reported on 16 January. The agency quoted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov as saying, "The whole defense industry of Tatarstan, including Gorbunov KAPO, will develop as part of the joint holding Tupolev."

A producer of the Tu-214 aircraft, Kazan's Gorbunov Aviation Plant has resisted such a consolidation and the accompanying share transfer to Moscow's control. Tatarstan's political leaders have also opposed such a move, saying Moscow has contributed virtually nothing to maintaining aircraft production in the republic in the past decade.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Newspaper Says Lack Of Speech Freedoms Hinders Multiparty System In Russia
"Kyzyl tang" on 15 January wrote that the concept of "freedom of speech" is becoming alien in Russia -- where independent TV channels are closed, journalists are challenged as "spies," and strict methods of "censorship," including the killing of journalists, are used. The paper stressed it will be impossible to maintain a multiparty system in a country where the mass media express a single position: that of the political leadership.

Duma Deputy Defends Rakhimov's Willingness To Grant Pardons
Duma Deputy Mikhail Bugera said Bashkortostan's leaders back an initiative by Russian President Vladimir Putin to annul the Pardon Commission and transfer some of its powers to the leaders of federation members, "Izvestia" reported on 18 January. Bugera reacted sharply to statements from Union of Rightist Forces leader Boris Nemtsov, who called that move a mistake and said one could hardly imagine Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov pardoning anybody. Bugera said Rakhimov had such powers under the power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Ufa, and a pardon commission has functioned in the republic since 1995. It has considered roughly 9,000 cases, and Rakhimov pardoned more than 300 people, he added.

Bashkortostan Prepares To Assemble New Holland Combines
First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Sigakov held a meeting of a working group to establish a Belgian-Bashkir venture to assemble New Holland combines, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 18 January. All sides agreed on founding documents and articles of incorporation for the company. Deputy Prime Minister Rafil Garifullin said production will be met with demand from agricultural manufacturers throughout the country. CNH Bashkortostan's partner, Inmash, plans to assemble the first 50 vehicles in the next five months.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev, CNH Vice President Gerrard Shiffer, and Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov recently gave their approval to the project.

Bashkortostan Parliamentary Delegation Visits Tatarstan
A delegation headed by State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev left for Tatarstan to share experience in parliamentary activities, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 18 January.

Government Seeks Efficiency In Metallurgy...
The cabinet on 18 January discussed a program state-owned shares in the Beloretsk Metallurgical Group of Enterprises, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. The cabinet developed measures aimed at improving the financial conditions at the company, which has massive debt, expensive production, and lingering problems in the social sphere.

...And Housing Construction
Perceived problems in housing construction -- including the slow pace of construction, a failure to fulfill targets, and affordability -- were discussed at a seminar for the heads of local administrations in Ufa on 18 January, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Participants noted that housing prices in Bashkortostan are some 50 percent higher than in Tatarstan and called for urgent measures to improve the situation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova