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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 8, 2002

8 February 2002
Russia Adopts Tatarstan's Experience In Housing Construction
President Vladimir Putin highly evaluated Tatarstan's experience in clearing slums and housing construction, reported on 7 February. Speaking at a joint meeting of the commission charged with preparations for the celebration of the jubilees of Kazan and St. Petersburg the previous day, Putin said Kazan's example is to be recognized at the statewide level and distributed throughout Russia. It was reported that 4,000 families received free apartments in Tatarstan in 2001, the third largest volume after Moscow and Moscow Oblast. Since 1995, when the program of clearing slums was launched by the Tatarstan president, over 22,000 families have received new apartments. Putin said the Russian government last month passed a similar program to move by 2010 some 421,000 residents throughout Russia from slums to new apartments. Some 60 percent of the 32 billion rubles needed for the program will be allocated from budgets of all levels.

Constitutional Commission Continues Its Work
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on 7 February chaired a meeting of the Constitutional Commission to discuss amendments to the document, Tatar-inform reported. "Vremya i dengi" on 7 February quoted commission member Marat Galeev as saying the number of paragraphs was reduced in the constitution's new version from 167 to 122. Commission members presented 325 amendments to 122 paragraphs of the document. The draft will be passed to the State Council next week, Tatar-inform said.

Shaimiev told a press conference on 6 February that key paragraphs of the republican constitution, including those concerning Tatarstan's sovereignty, powers of its president, and the power-sharing treaty, have already been agreed with Russian President Putin, and called for minimizing as much possible the number of amendments to them.

Kazan To Receive 1.1 Billion Rubles From Moscow in 2002 For Preparations For Millennium
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said on 6 February that the federal budget will allocate 13 billion rubles ($426 million) this year for preparations for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003 and the Kazan millennium in 2005, ITAR-TASS reported. Some 1.1 billion rubles ($36 million) of that sum will be spent on preparations for the Kazan jubilee, including for the reconstruction of the historical part of the city and subway construction. Kudrin said the state commission that gathered in Moscow the same day to discuss the issue paid special attention to providing safety during the jubilee events, especially for famous guests.

Tatarstan's Main Religious Leaders Hold Meeting
Leaders of Tatarstan's main religious communities met in the Muslim Religious Board to discuss problems of cooperation in the moral education of the republic's people and joint efforts to fight drug addiction and implement educational projects. Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan, Jewish community executive director David Tokar, the deputy head of the Catholic community Father Toma, and the representative of the Evangelical-Lutheran community Viktor Dits were in attendance. The participants greeted Tatarstan Mufti Gusman Iskhakov on his re-election and expressed their hope such meetings will be held more often.

Kazan Mayor Says Vatican Ready To Change Terms Of Holy Icon Return
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told a press conference on 7 February that Tatarstan's leadership hopes for the return of the Kazan Divine Mother icon to Kazan before the city's millennium in August 2005. Iskhakov said the Vatican's press service informed him about possibly changing the terms for the icon to be returned. Iskhakov assumed that the pope will not necessarily insist on handing over the icon personally to Patriarch Aleksii II during a visit to Russia as he previously did.

Killed Policemen To Be Commemorated
The Buinsk administration decided to erect a monument and to name streets in the urban area after the militiamen killed on 4 February in the capture of two army deserters, Tatar-inform reported on 7 February. The widow and three children of one of the policemen, Gamil Zagrutdinov, were given authorization for a new apartment the same day, and all other victims' families will also be given new apartments, the agency said. The Interior Affairs Ministry also promised to employ all the widows and train all the children in higher institutions.

Chally To Introduce Curfew For Minors
The Chally administration developed a resolution to impose a curfew for minors, "Vecherniye Chelny" reported on 7 February. Under the draft, children under 14 years old will be permitted to stay outside till 8 p.m. and teenagers under 17 years old until 10 p.m., otherwise their parents will be fined. Currently the document is being agreed with prosecutors. A similar measure was already introduced in the city, but was then abolished as contradicting federal legislation. Now, Moscow itself uses such legislation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

One In 10 People Have Received New Passports
Roughly 12 percent of Bashkortostan's population, or 554,000 residents, have received new Russian passports, reported on 7 February based on information from the chief federal inspector's office in Bashkortostan. The agency cited Federal Inspector Ivan Ognev saying identity documents both with and without local insert pages are issued in the republic. Some 15,500 residents received passports without the local inserts, he said.

Authorities Promise Premiums For Best Arranging Of Census
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov issued a resolution urging additional measures in preparation for the Russia-wide 2002 census in the republic, Bashinform reported on 7 February. The document recognized "the great state importance" of the census and announced a competition among republic's cities and raions to provide the best conditions for the event. Those residential areas that arrange the best media campaign devoted to the census will also be granted premiums.

Bashkir Congress Organizers Warn Of 'Alien' Participation...
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 7 February cited World Bashkir Congress Chairman Niyaz Mazhitov and Deputy Prime Minister and Culture and Ethnic Policies Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov as urging strict criteria in the selection of delegates to the upcoming second forum of the congress. They say the participation of "alien people" could harm the congress' work. The forum must contribute to growing the Bashkir people and its language, history, spirit, and traditions, the leaders said.

Organizers said the forum is an ideological means to help people who have forgotten their origin return to their roots. They called on Bashkirs in the republic and neighboring oblasts and republics to hold explanatory campaigns.

...And Outline Forum's Agenda
Zinnur Uraksin, the director of the History, Language, and Literature Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that describing the current social and economic state of the Bashkir people and preserving and developing its sovereignty are among the main issues to be discussed at the World Bashkir Congress. He said another is promoting the interests of Bashkirs in conditions for the sale and purchase of land. Strengthening the unity of the Bashkir people -- primarily its language and culture -- and preventing the people's assimilation are also to be on the agenda. Demographic issues should also be paid significant attention, Uraksin added.

Bashkortostan Residents Are Taking Up Sports
State Sports and Tourism Committee Chairman Vladimir Samorodov told his committee's board on 7 February that the number of Bashkortostan residents going in for sports, tourism, and physical culture increased in 2001 to some 1.7 million, representing 26 percent of the population. The figure is 0.5 percent higher than the previous year's rate, Bashinform reported. At a meeting last week of the Russian State Council, President Vladimir Putin called Bashkortostan "one of the most sportful regions" in the federation.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova