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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 22, 2002

22 January 2002
Russian Paper Says Tatar Census Problem Is 'Cooked Up'
"Rossiyskaya gazeta" newspaper wrote on 22 January that Tatar legislators who adopted a public statement against dividing Russia's Tatars according to their dialects during the upcoming national census in late 2002 were "in fact afraid of that after the census they will lose the status of second-largest ethnic group in Russia. And this would mean the weakening of the nation's political power and its lobbying abilities." The paper, which has taken a firm stance against a switch to Latin-Tatar script, said, "It was not Russians, but Tatars who separated such ethnic groups as Mishers from themselves, and Baptized Tatars are offended when someone calls them Tatars." The paper added: "The problem of splitting the Tatars is cooked up, because every respondent during the census will have the right to report his nationality the way he chooses."

Tatarstan Representative To Be Proposed For Deputy Chairman's Seat In Federation Council
"Vechernaya Kazan" daily reported on 22 January that Rafgat Altinbaev, who represents Tatarstan in the Russian Federation Council, will be proposed as a candidate for one of the Council's four deputy chairmanships. Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev is reportedly backing the appointment, which will be decided during the body's plenary session on 30 January.

Tatarstan Mindful Of Bashkir, Khanty-Mansii Oil Cooperation
"Vremya i dengi" daily on 22 January quoted Rinat Muslimov, an adviser to Tatarstan's president, as saying the contract signed between Bashkortostan and Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug last week on processing the latter's oil at Bashkir refineries "didn't represent any serious threat" to Tatarstan, which also relies on Bashkir industry to process oil. However, Muslimov claims the Tatar government is preparing a list of measures to be undertaken in case the western Siberian region boosts its oil supplies to Bashkortostan, potentially squeezing Tatarstan oil out.

2001 Conscription Results Summed Up
The deputy chief military commissioner in Tatarstan, Vadim Safiullin, told reporters on 21 January that only 8,000 recruits were enlisted during 2001 in the republic, while the number of draft-age young men totaled over 30,000. Some 10,000 draftees were reportedly freed from army service due to poor health, while 11,500 enjoyed temporary exemptions as they attended university. Some 1,228 recruits reportedly are evading conscription -- mostly in the cities of Kazan, Chally, Tuben Kama, Elmet, Leninogorsk, Bogelme, and the regions of Chistay Kokmara and Bua.

Safiullin said recruits from Tatarstan found the Elansky military detachment in Siberian Military District and Totsky detachment in Volga Military District to be the most to difficult to serve in, citing violence committed by groups of recruits from the Caucasus. He also cited Russian military commanders' requests for recruits from Tatarstan, whom they praise for their discipline.

Tatneft Claims High Demand In Iran, China, Vietnam
Tatneft oil company has signed a $500,000 contract with the Iranian government on reinforcing the walls of oil wells at the Kupal oil deposit, reported, quoting Solid-Info agency on 21 January. The company also says it plans to sign similar, know-how-based contracts with oil extracting companies in China, Vietnam, and further customers in Iran.

Moody's Ups Tatneft's Eurobond Rating
Moody's Investors Service hiked the rating on Eurobonds issued by Tatneft oil company from "Ca" to "B3 [stable]," Finmarket news agency reported on 21 January. The oil company issued $300 million worth of bonds in 1997.

Federal Official Praises Tatarstan Aid To Small Businesses
The Russian minister of economic development and trade, Herman Gref, in a meeting with Tatar First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov in Moscow on 18 January, praised the concept for small-business support implemented in Tatarstan, Tatar-inform agency reported on 21 January. Gref stressed the importance of the republic's "readiness to eliminate the practice of briberies" demanded from businessmen by state officials. The Russian minister also suggested that Muratov file a formal application to the federal government asking for tax concessions for small businesses.

Chally's Former Deputy Mayor Imprisoned For $670 Bribe
Former Chally Deputy Mayor Yevgenii Anikin was sentenced to four years in prison for accepting a bribe, Tatarstan media reported on 20 January. Anikin proclaimed his innocence, saying he only took a 20,000-ruble ($670) loan from a local night-club owner and claiming he was a victim of a plot.

President Shaimiev Turns 65
The chief of Tatarstan's presidential press service, Irek Murtazin, told Efir TV on 21 January that among the hundreds of birthday wishes sent to President Shaimiev the previous day, a greeting letter from Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was the most outstanding because it was written in Tatar. Shaimiev is currently at the Yangan Tau spa, in Bashkortostan, following his annual tradition of marking his birthday with relatives and outside the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

President Pledges State Support To Private Businesses...
Bashkortostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov met the leading businessmen of his republic to discuss the problems faced by individuals seeking to establish private ventures, Bashinform reported on 21 January.

"Although Bashkortostan's legislators have already adopted laws and regulations on private businesses and the concept of small businesses development was implemented.... There is still only a few businesses in agriculture, industry, science," the president told the meeting. He stated that in order to lower the number of reselling businesses comparing to the producing ones, it was necessary to abolish more administrative and legal barriers.

...As Businessmen Suggest That Nongovernmental Agencies Should Deal With Them
Igor Chernenko, chairman of the Bashkortostan business association, said during the same meeting that according to polls, only 44 percent of small business owners have applied for state support so far, but 60 percent of them have already received it. Meanwhile, 84 percent of businessmen said that there should be nongovernmental bodies for supporting them. Only 20 percent of businessmen applying for bank loans obtained them and 63 percent never even tried to apply.

Official Unemployment Reported Still To Be Low
Timerkhan Bikkinin, chief of the Federal Employment Service branch in Bashkortostan, said on 21 January that successful cooperation of local governments and major employers allowed the official unemployment figures to stay low, so that they don't exceed 1-1.5 percent. Some 114,000 people appealed to labor exchanges to find new jobs in 2001, with 76,000 being re-employed as a result.

Spread Of HIV Continues At High Pace
After 45 more HIV-positive cases were discovered in Bashkortostan last week, the total number of carriers of the virus reached 2,616, 2,009 cases were infected by means of infected syringes when injecting drugs.

Tatar President's Visit Largely Uncovered By Bashkir Media
The majority of Bashkir media failed to comment on the visit of Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev, who is resting in the Yangan Tau spa in Bashkortostan. The Bashkir edition of the nationwide "Komsomolskaya pravda" newspaper published a short report about Shaimiev's stay in the republic, suggesting that he preferred to visit Bashkortostan because it was the "closest relative" of his republic in that, being Turkic peoples, Tatars and Bashkirs maintained brotherly relations. According to RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 21 January, a number of public organizations representing the Tatar community of Bashkortostan "hoped to meet" the president and report the violations of their rights by the local government.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi