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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 26, 2002

26 February 2002
Duma Committee Pushes Ban On Regional Script Reforms
The State Duma Committee on Nationalities Affairs approved a draft bill obliging all peoples living in Russia to use the Cyrillic script on 22 February, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. The draft would set back Tatarstan's five-year effort at re-introducing a Latin-based script.

Deputies rejected a draft bill giving the right to choose scripts to different ethnic groups in Russia, offered by Tatarstan-based Duma Deputy and former TPC Chairman Fandas Safiullin.

Deputy Says Tatarstan Representatives Did Not Back Citizenship Bill
The "Tatarstan Yashlere" daily on 26 February quoted Russian State Duma Deputy Fandas Safiullin (Tatarstan) as saying that only 85 deputies voted on an amendment offered by the Tatar State Council seeking to preserve the legal institution of republican citizenship. In Safiullin's words, the majority of deputies abstained from the vote, "boycotting" the issue. Deputies representing Tatarstan from the Communist, Unity, Fatherland-All Of Russia, and SPS factions -- and even the Russian Regions group led by Oleg Morozov -- reportedly did not back the draft. Generally speaking about the draft law on Russian citizenship proposed by President Vladimir Putin, he said it "demonstrated the final stage of shaping the unitary state in Russia, which is based on single citizenship and single religion."

Parliament Speaker Optimistic Over Draft Constitution
State Council Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Commission Farid Mukhametshin told Tatar-inform on 25 February that the new draft constitution -- to be considered by Tatar parliament on 28 February -- regards Tatarstan as a "full-fledged member of the Russian Federation." Although provisions in the existing constitution declare Tatarstan a sovereign state subject to international law and associated with the Russian Federation via a power-sharing treaty between Kazan and Moscow are to be replaced with an article saying that the republic is a full-fledged member of the Russian Federation, the speaker said the draft "preserves many of the status-defining provisions."

Duma Committee Head Meets Tatar President
President Mintimer Shaimiev and State Council Chairman Mukhametshin met the chairman of the Russian State Duma's Legislative Committee and SPS faction member Pavel Krasheninnikov on 25 February in the Kazan Kremlin to discuss Tatarstan's legislative experience in housing services. There was a focus on the example of Chally, which maintains a computerized system for interacting with local residents. According to Krashenninikov, who previously served as federal justice minister, other Russian territorial entities have many things to learn from Tatarstan's policies in housing services. Mukhametshin added that the sides discussed ways of reforming Russia's housing-services sector without forcing residents to pay more.

The same day, Krashenninikov met the Kazan branch of his SPS party to discuss plans to propose amendments to the Russian Criminal Code and reduction of the obligatory army service term from two years to one year or six months.

TPC Leader Denies Reports Of Possible Merger With Liberal Russia
Tatar Public Center Chairman Reshit Yagfarov in an interview with RFE/RL on 25 February denied reports of TPC becoming a part of the Liberal Russia movement, led by the exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Yagfarov's deputy, Mars Shamsutdinov, recently told reporters of possible cooperation between the TPC and the new movement, which "declared values which are close" to the Center's. In Yagfarov's words, his group is not planning to join any existing political organizations but will maintain cooperation to achieve common goals.

Kazan Computing Systems To Cooperate With Symantec
U.S.-based Symantec is to hold a seminar on its data-protection software at the ICL-Kazan Computing Systems Plant on 27 February, marking mutual plans for promoting joint software solutions of ICL-KCSP and Symantec, Tatarstan's press reported on 26 February.

Aydar Khalim's 60th Birthday Marked In Kazan
A special event dedicated to the 60th birthday of the prominent Tatar writer, an ideologist of the modern Tatar ethnic movement, and the author of critical essays on Russia's policies regarding republics like Chechnya and Tatarstan, Aydar Khalim, will be held in the Kazan theater named after Kerim Tinchurin on 26 February.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Official Decries Subdivision Of Tatars In Census
Amir Yuldashbaev, head of the social and political development department on Bashkortostan's presidential staff, told RFE/RL on 25 February that the division of Tatars into sub-groups in the October census will make the poll "a lot more complicated." He said, "It is unclear what goals Moscow is pursuing when introducing this division, but I would say that [such subdividing] is necessary only to consider the inner-ethnic or scientific issues, so this could be avoided during the census."

TPC Prepares For Forum
Bashkortostan's branch of Tatar Public Center is preparing to hold a forum on 16 March to discuss the current situation regarding Tatars' rights in Bashkortostan and preparations for the upcoming nation-wide census, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 25 February.

Bashkortostan Observes Flag Day
The Republic of Bashkortostan celebrated the 10th anniversary of its flag coming into existence on 25 February.

...And Enjoying The Support Of Local Communists
"Nash Vibor" weekly, published by Bashkortostan Communists, on 22 February published an article by a Communist activist in Salavat saying the republican government's policy on nationalities was on display in the recent sacking of Salavat Mayor Azgat Galiev. GAliyev was accused of dragging his feet in preparation for the census, but the Communists suggest he was fighting against the government's attempts at "Bashkirizing" the Tatar population of his city.

Bank Offers Deposit Products Under Jewish, Ethnic Names
Sotsinvestbank of Bashkortostan has introduced a number of new deposit products with ethnic and Jewish names, RFE\RL reported on 25 February. A majority of the new accounts carry Jewish names, while three are Bashkir, two are Greek, and one each are Armenian, Chavash, Mordovian, and Udmurt. There are no Tatar names offered on the list, although some of the Bashkir names are similar sounding to Tatar but vary in spelling.

Tatar Public Organizations Back Right To Elect Mayors And Regional Heads...
Several Tatar rights organizations in Bashkortostan on 25 February appealed to the Russian president, the prosecutor-general, and the Bashkir president complaining of frequent violations of federal laws in the republic. According to the statement, residents of Bashkortostan are denied their right to elect regional administration heads and mayors, who are still being appointed and dismissed by presidential decree. The appeal is said be the Tatars' response to recent dismissals of Salavat Mayor Azgat GAliyev and a number of regional administration heads who are ethnic Tatars, blamed for failing to carry out duties in preparation for the upcoming census.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi