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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 15, 2002

15 February 2002
Turkish Consul General Says His Country A Party To Tatar Script Issue
Turkey's consul general to Tatarstan, Akhmed Ryza Demirer, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 14 February that the question of switching to the Latin script is Tatarstan's internal political issue and Turkey has no position on the matter. Demirer denied attempts to link the Tatar script issue or any claims about Tatarstan's separatism to Turkey, saying his country has the same position toward separatism as Russia does. The consul general said incidents in Chechnya and the rise of radical Islam may have led to increasing sensitivity to Turkey in Russian public opinion -- leading some to bring Turkey into the debate over Tatar script. He said the Western orientation of Turkic states should not lead to sacrificing their culture or civilization. Since Islam maintains strong positions in those countries, new forms of relations between religion and social life should be found to regulate people's ordinary lives, he asserted. He added that interest in nineteenth-century Jadidism, a modernist interpretation of Islam developed by Tatars, is growing in Turkey.

Tatarstan Seeks Voice In Fate Of Bashkir Nuclear Project
"Vremya i dengi" on 14 February cited Rustem Kamalov, an official from Tatarstan's Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, saying an expertise of the Bashkir Nuclear Station is to involve representatives from neighboring regions -- including Tatarstan, which "shares the dangers" of the project. However, Tatarstan environmentalists have received neither an invitation to express their views nor any information about continuing the project in Agidel. Akhmet Zakirov, the leader of a civic movement against the construction of the Tatar Nuclear Station in the late 1980s, told the daily that the Bashkir station is located at an intersection of three tectonic plates, where the construction of nuclear stations is prohibited. Agidel would be like "three Chornobyls located in the very heart of Russia," he said.

Zakirov also quoted reports claiming that Russian atomic industry officials have appealed to Tatarstan's leaders to persuade them to unfreeze construction of the Tatar Nuclear Station and have promised millions' worth of investment.

Tatarstan's Status Changed In New Version Of Tatar Constitution...
The first paragraph of the proposed new Tatarstan Constitution calls Tatarstan a "state united with the Russian Federation" through the Russian and Tatarstan constitutions and the power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Kazan, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 14 February. The paragraph also asserts that Tatarstan is a full-fledged member of the Russian Federation. The document calls Tatarstan's sovereignty an inalienable feature of Tatarstan embodied in state powers beyond those of the Russian Federation. Tatarstan's status cannot be changed without the agreement of both Tatarstan and Russia on the issue, according to the document, and the republic's borders cannot be changed without its consent. Within the framework of its powers is its own international and foreign economic relations, the document says. The weekly asserted that "the results of the historical referendum in Tatarstan have been changed" in the draft, which is slated for debate in late February.

...As Citizenship Will Likely Be Declarative
According to "Zvezda Povolzhya," the 21st paragraph of the draft version of the Tatarstan Constitution asserts that "Tatarstan has its own citizenship." It adds, "At the same time, Tatarstan's citizens are citizens of the Russian Federation." Meanwhile, the 22nd paragraph says citizens of Russia enjoy all rights and freedoms as well as responsibilities on Tatarstan territory, according to the Russian and Tatar constitutions and the norms of international law. The paper asserted that the combination of these two paragraphs completely eliminates the republic's true citizenship, as any Russian resident can run for the Tatarstan presidency or parliamentary representation.

President Shaimiev Urges Cooperation With Canada In Agro-Industry
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev on 14 February took part in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Tatar-inform reported. Putin called the use of Canadian engines and equipment in Tatarstan-produced helicopters an example of successful bilateral cooperation between the countries. Shaimiev called for boosting ties in the agro-industrial sector. The Tatar president met the same day with Quebec's prime minister, Bernard Landry, to discuss cooperation prospects.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir World Congress Charges Public Figures With Waging 'Anti-Bashkir' Campaign.
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 14 February published a resolution by the Bashkir World Congress Executive Committee charging that a majority within the "indigenous Bashkir population" in northwestern Bashkortostan was registered as "Tatars" during an "unbridled anti-Bashkir policy" by the republic's communist leaders in 1987-90. The number of Bashkirs fell by 90 percent, while the number of Tatars increased by the same figure in the 1989 census, committee members said.

They also claimed that Tatarstan's public and state figures are holding a "frenzied, slanderous campaign" in the Russian mass media and Internet to discredit a "weighed national policy" of Bashkortostan that takes into account the interests of all nations. The body plans "a broad...campaign within the Bashkortostan population to explain the political importance of the 2002 census, and to interpret the results of previous censuses and criteria for determining national identity."

Tatar Public Center Calls For Tatar-Bashkir Congress
Leaders of the Tatar Public Center (TPC) in Chally, Alabuga, and Tuben Kama issued an appeal to the Bashkir people to declare the current year a "year of friendship" between the two peoples and to gather a Tatar and Bashkir congress, "Novaya vecherka" reported on 13 February. Tatar activists said, "Tatars and Bashkirs are the most closely related peoples," united not only by close languages but also by common history and culture. Tatars and Bashkirs are equally proud of their common writers and political leaders, they added. The Bolsheviks did everything they could to erect barriers between the two peoples, the authors said. Tatars and Bashkirs could face the same fate as Crimean and Kazan Tatars, initially a united nation which now cannot understand each other, the TPC leaders said.

Mezhregiongaz May Increase Gas Deliveries To Ufa
Mezhregiongaz will seek ways to increase gas deliveries to Bashkortostan by 13 percent, to 16.2 billion cubic meters in the current year, reported on 13 February. According to a protocol the sides signed in Ufa, Gazprom subsidiary Mezhregiongaz will also discuss possible investments in the development of heat-and-power engineering in Bashkortostan and participation in the construction of the Yumaguzy reservoir. Bashkortostan's government is expected to control current payments for gas and to promote repayment of debts by restricting or halting gas supplies to debtors, the agency said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova