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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 3, 2002

3 May 2002
Official Promotes Single Language For Russia's Turkic Peoples
In his article published in the "Vostochnyi ekspress" weekly on 26 April, Rafail Khakimov, a state adviser to Tatarstan's president, said Moscow's attempts to divide Tatars into several ethnic groups is a victory for a policy outlined by Peter Stolypin, the premier under Tsar Nicholas II and famous reformer in the early 1900s. Stolypin suggested that, in order to weaken the Tatar people, each ethnic group within it should be considered an independent ethnic group and provided its own literary language.

Khakimov points out that two factors can influence the position Tatars will occupy in the contemporary world -- the status of the Tatar language as the key one of the Turkic languages, and the peculiarities of Jadidism, one of the most developed concepts of Islam. Tatars should again perform their role as a mediator between European culture and Turkic peoples, Khakimov said, adding that the modern role of Tatars should include the creation of information systems based on the Tatar language.

Khakimov asserted that the existence of dozens of Turkic alphabets in Russia is the result of a "barbaric operation" and that their artificial creation was done on the order of dictator Josef Stalin. As a result, many of the Turkic peoples of Russia do not understand written Tatar -- though they still understand each other's spoken languages -- while before the 1917 revolution, all of them read Tatar-language newspapers and magazines. Khakimov said that the various Turkic peoples of Russia will be unable to survive alone and preserve their uniqueness before "the threat of globalization" and called on them to use a single literary language and alphabet, even if their spoken languages slightly differ. He noted that Moscow will certainly evaluate these calls as pan-Turkism and commented that "Tatars have no other choice than either to disappear under the accompaniment of Moscow or to conduct a breakthrough for their survival."

Communist Leader Says State Duma Speaker To Be Excluded From KPRF List In Next Elections�
Aleksandr Salii, leader of the Communist Party (KPRF) in Tatarstan and State Duma deputy, told on 1 May that the name of Gennadii Seleznev will be excluded from the KPRF list at the next State Duma elections. Salii said he understands, to some extent, Seleznev as it is difficult to refuse such a high post but added that he cannot excuse his refusal to obey the "party order" to resign. Seleznev committed a blunder, Salii opined, because as one of the party leaders everything he achieved he obtained because of the party. He must listen to the party's opinion and share its views, since he was elected to the State Duma on the KPRF list. Thus, it was the KPRF that helped him become State Duma chairman, while in the next elections, "let him find a one-mandate electoral okrug [to be elected from]," Salii said.

...And Criticizes Land Reform
Deputy Salii criticized trade union leaders for promoting land reform and the adoption of the Land Code, reported on 2 May. Salii said "this will lead to a situation when land will be taken by the rich and by the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese in the Far East, while ordinary Russian hard workers will receive nothing."

KamAZ To Become More Transparent Business
The KamAZ board of directors charged newly appointed General Director Sergei Kogogin with continuing the policy of openness and the turning of the truck concern into a company truly transparent to its shareholders, potential investors, partners, and the state, reported on 2 May, citing KamAZ's press service. The board urged the new head to restructure the company in order to make it a competitive, profit-making business and to increase its market value. Kogogin said the sale of businesses not specifically-linked to the truck concern and attracting investment for the development and renovation of its main production will be the main directions of restructuring for the company. He said overcoming the deep crisis of restructuring more that $1 billion in debt, increasing production, and securing profit-making projects are the main achievements of his predecessor, Ivan Kostin.

Draftee Defends In Court Right Of Alternative Civil Service
The Kazan Aviastroitelnyi Raion Court heard a lawsuit on 30 April brought by Vladislav Shubin against an enlistment office, reported. Shubin, 22, is fighting for the right to select alternative civil service instead of serving in the military. Shubin, a volunteer from the Center for Peacekeeping and Human Rights (TsMPD), told the court that he "is ready to pay his duty before the motherland but not with a rifle in my hands." He said he will agree to perform any civil duties ordered of him by law. TsMPD activists also stated that the order for establishing enlistment bodies in the republic is illegal. The court will proceed with hearing on the case on 6 May.

Kyrgyzstan's Tatar Intelligentsia Form New Public Group
A club of Kyrgyzstan's Tatar Intelligentsia was established at a meeting of journalists, writers, artists, scientists, and university teachers in Bishkek, the "Tatarskie kraya" weekly reported in issue no. 15 in April. Robert Urazgildeev, an academician at the Academy of Humanities, was elected the club's president. The new body is intended to develop mutual relations with cultural institutions and organizations and the "creative intelligentsia" of Tatarstan as well as the preservation of national culture among the Tatar diaspora. Club organizers will promote tours and performances of Tatar musicians and theater actors as well as visits by Tatar writers and poets.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Opposition Paper Claims President Seeks To Dissolve Legislature
President Murtaza Rakhimov appealed to Bashkortostan's Constitutional Court to interpret Articles 86 and 87 of the republic's constitution that specify the order of pre-term dissolution of the Bashkir State Assembly, "Otechestvo" monthly reported in its April issue. The opposition newspaper, published by Bashkortostan's Rus movement, speculated that controversies between Moscow and Ufa have reached the point where the Russian president may dismiss President Rakhimov on legal grounds. Thus the latter, in order to preserve himself, is going to shift the blame onto deputies and dissolve the parliament, the paper said.

Ufaneftekhim Workers Appeal To Prosecutors To Defend Their Rights
Employees of Ufaneftekhim, one of the biggest oil-refining and petrochemical companies in Russia, appealed to the Prosecutor-General's Office to defend their labor rights and the interests of shareholders and of the company as a whole, "Otechestvo" reported in its April issue. The applicants called for preventing violations of the law by heads of Bashneftekhim, who, they said, control Ufaneftekhim illegally. The paper claimed that the Bashneftekhim petrochemical company, headed by the son of President Rakhimov, Ural, illegally took over Ufaneftekhim and other Ufa oil refineries in the late 1990s. For this, Ufaneftekhim in September 1998 was artificially brought to the verge of bankruptcy and the rights of its employees and shareholders were ignored and violated. The company and its property were illegally divided between numerous privately owned firms. As a result, the company's staff was reduced from 8,600 in 1997 to 4,000 in 1999. Currently, another staff reduction is going on, as a result of which more than 1,000 employees will be fired. Dismissed workers are not paid any compensation since company heads earlier illegally changed their labor contracts, initially permanent, to make them limited, the paper said.

Bashneft Opens On To Foreigners
A meeting of shareholders of Bashkortostan's oil company Bashneft removed restrictions for purchase of its shares by foreigners, "Vedomosti" daily reported on 30 April. Previously, the share held by nonresidents in the company's capital could not exceed 10 percent, and sales of shares to foreigners required the approval of the board of directors. Bashneft's main shareholder, the state-run Bashkirskaya Toplivnaya Kompaniya, possesses 63.7 percent of its shares, while the Bashkir government owns 2.5 percent. Over the past decade, the volume of oil extractions fell at the company from 22 million tons in 1991 to 11.8 million tons in 2001. However, in the first quarter of 2002 production grew by 3 percent. In 2001, the company's income increased by 9 percent to $1.4 billion, while net profit fell by 7 percent to $403 million.

The paper cited analysts as predicting that the move will result in a significant growth in the price of the company's shares. The daily cited Gennadii Krasovskii from NIKoil as saying that Bashneft shares have a big potential for growth since they are undervalued by 70 to 100 percent. Sergei Glazer from Alfa-bank said the cost of Bashneft shares may double as a result of the restriction removal.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova