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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 24, 2002

24 January 2002
Young Scholars Protest Politicization Of Script Issue
A group of young scholars from the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences History Institute expressed concern to federal bodies over tensions and the politicization of the issue of the Tatar script, Tatar-inform reported on 23 January. The authors said a solution over the Tatar script should reflect the will of the Tatar people. The scholars' move came in reply to a letter criticizing a transformation to a Latin script by anonymous "young scholars and students of Kazan's higher [educational] institutions" that was recently forwarded from Moscow to republican authorities. Nail Garipov, whose is the only legible name on the letter, called it "libelous [and] anonymous," adding that the apparent use of his name was a "forgery."

Russian Duma Speaker Promotes Higher Status For Regional Parliaments
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev called for higher status for the legislative bodies among federation members, RIA-Novosti reported on 22 January. Seleznev said the legislatures of federation entities have been relegated to the periphery of political life -- a situation that needs to be corrected. He suggested that a permanent consultative body made up of regional legislative leaders be formed and stressed the necessity of strengthening cooperation between the Federal Assembly and regional parliaments.

Duma Deputy Criticizes Quotas For Russians In National Republics...
Svetlana Smirnova, a Duma deputy and a member of the Nationalities Affairs Committee, spoke against the adoption of a law on the Russian people intended to secure Russians' proportional representation in the authority structure of national republics, Rosbalt reported on 22 January. Smirnova said the issue needs deeper investigation, adding that the introduction of quotas is "unacceptable and insulting for national minorities." She said Russia needs to study and analyze international experience in resolving and preventing ethnic conflicts.

...As Another Duma Member Calls Harmonization A 'Complex' Process
Oleg Morozov, the head of the Duma's Russian Regions faction, told ORT on 22 January that the harmonization of regional constitutions and legislation with federal laws is an "unavoidable" process, adding that no federation entity is openly sabotaging that process. But the task is "very complex," and the process is gradual, Morozov added. Commenting on a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Duma faction leaders the same day, Morozov said all participants agreed that no urgent changes or amendments to the Russian Constitution are required to improve the work of the two chambers of the Federal Assembly.

France Proposes $40 Million In Credit For Kazan Underground Construction
A visiting delegation of French Alstom Transport S.A. on 23 January met with Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov to discuss terms for opening a $40 million line of credit to aid Kazan subway construction, Tatar-inform reported. Alstom representatives said the project has backing from the French Finance and Economy ministries and the country's embassy in Moscow. Salikhov called the proposals "attractive" for Tatarstan.

Four-Hundred Kilograms Of Drugs Seized In 2001
Tatarstan police seized 400 kilograms of drugs in 2001, including 40 kilograms of heroin, the head of the Interior Ministry's anti-drug department, Valerii Krasilnikov, told Rosbalt on 22 January. The body shut down 18 routes for drug trafficking into Tatarstan last year and charged 39 citizens of Tajikistan with related crimes.

Tatneft Takes Over Minnibaevskii Gas-Processing Plant
Tatneft and its affiliated companies have acquired a combined 64 percent stake in Minnibaevskii Gas Processing Plant (MGPZ), Solid-info reported on 22 January.

Riga Architects Visit Kazan
Riga's chief architect, Yuris Poga, arrives in Kazan on 24 January to share experience with Tatarstan counterparts in the restoration and preservation of historical buildings and the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Latvian capital, held last year, reported on 23 January. An exhibition titled "Riga On Its 800th Anniversary" is to open in Kazan on 24 January.

Tatarstan Tax Police Among Leaders In Russia
The Federal Tax Police board in Tatarstan was rated second most-efficient among Russian regions, Tatar-inform reported. The body was credited with tracking down 8.3 billion rubles ($272 million) for the budget and off-budget funds in 2001. Board head Shamil Davletgildeev told a board meeting that an international cooperation department will be established in the service to fight international machinations and boost cooperation with Interpol.

Kasyanov Cheers Chally KamAZ-Master Racers
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov congratulated KamAZ managers and the Chally racing team, KamAZ-Master, on their victory in their class of the Paris-Dakar rally, reported on 23 January. Kasyanov said the success of Tatarstan's racers demonstrates the potential of Russian vehicle manufacturing.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

World Bashkir Congress Leader Upbeat About Achievements Of Last Seven Years
Speaking to Bashinform agency on 23 January, the chairman of the World Bashkir Congress' executive committee, Niyaz Majitov, said the group's first congress in 1995 "played an enormous role in consolidating the Bashkir people." He noted that Bashkir Congress branches were subsequently opened in all cities and rural regions of Bashkortostan and managed to establish close ties with other ethnic communities and regional administrations. Beginning from 1997, he added, the republican government has assisted in forming Bashkir Congress chapters in the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, Perm, Orenburg, Samara, Kurgan, Saratov, Osmk, Tomsk, Tyumen oblasts and the republics of Tatarstan, Udmurtia, and Komi.

Majitov also said connections were being maintained with Bashkir communities in the United States, Australia, Turkey, Hungary, and Germany. Bashkortostan's government reportedly allocated 1 million rubles ($33,000) for the purchase of schoolbooks and literature for Bashkir communities in the Ural region in 2000. The chairman also said the World Bashkir Congress cooperates effectively with Bashkir youth and women's organizations.

Another Scandal Tests Bashkir-Turkish Ties...
The director of the Bashkir-Turkish lyceum in Neftekamsk, Omir Mahir Kazakli, was found guilty of accepting bribes for distributing distinction diplomas to his students and returned home after being given a suspended sentence of two years in prison, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 23 January. It was also revealed during the investigation that Kazakli, who was principle of the institution, never completed any higher education. Other Turkish lyceums operating in the republic are reportedly undergoing thorough checkups initiated in the wake of the Kazakli case.

Last year, the head of the Turkish "Zaman Bashkortostan" newspaper in Ufa, Yahya Piri, was expelled from the republic for "exceeding the newspaper's [authority] and the excessive study of Turkey's interests in Bashkortostan." An owner of a Turkish construction company active in the republic was also deported in late 2001 for violating labor immigration regulations when importing laborers.

...As Both Sides Prepare For Business Dialogue In Ufa
The heads of a Bashkir-Turkish business cooperation fund are to gather on 29 January to evaluate their activities in 2001 and discuss ways to improve the marketing of Bashkortostan goods in Istanbul.

Tax Service Reports Increasing Violations Across The Board
The number of tax evasion cases revealed by the Bashkortostan branch of the federal tax service grew by 35 percent year-on-year in 2001, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 23 January. Tax officials said some 40 percent of alcoholic beverages and 60 percent of tobacco products are sold without excise taxes.

Ufa Airport To Be Modernized
A number of German companies dealing with runway repairs and the renovation of airport buildings recently met senior managers of Ufa's international airport to offer their services, Bashkortostan State Radio reported on 23 January. According to previous reports in the Bashkir media, the state-owned airport plans to spend $35.8 million on renovation work. Reports have not included the name of any potential investor in such a project.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi