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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 28, 2002

28 May 2002
Bashkir Congress Held In Tatarstan Capital
One hundred fifty delegates from Tatarstan's Bashkir community gathered for a congress in Kazan on 25 May, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday.

The event was originally to be held in the Kazan National Cultural Hall, but just days before the congress, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev requested that government officials move the location of the event to the more prestigious Galiasker Kamal Drama Theater.

Deputy Chairman of the Tatarstan State Council Robert Minnulin, who was also the chairman of the congress's organizing committee, said in his opening address that this was the first Bashkir congress ever held in Tatarstan, which is home to some 20,000 ethnic Bashkirs, 10,000 of whom live in the republic's second city Chally and another 2,000 of whom live in Kazan. Minnulin also said in his report that there has never been a "Tatar-Bashkir issue" in the republic, "as the Tatar and Bashkir peoples have always sought common goals shoulder-to-shoulder."

In her address at the congress, Chairwoman of the Bashkir National Cultural Autonomy in Kazan Firdaus Bashirova said the absence of ethnic Bashkir schools was the major problem for Bashkirs in Tatarstan. Only eight students currently attend the Bashkir Sunday School in Kazan, and Bashkir families in other locations in the republic have not yet applied to local administrations to ask that Bashkir schools be opened.

The Kazan congress elected six delegates to represent the Tatarstan Bashkir community at the World Bashkir Congress in Ufa in June.

Former Tatarstan Minister Promoted Within Russian Interior Ministry
Former Tatarstan Interior Minister Iskender Galimov, who served as deputy head of the Department of Economic Crimes of the Russian Interior Ministry since 1998, has been appointed head of the Main Information Center of the Russian Interior Ministry, RIA-Novosti reported yesterday.

Galimov was dismissed from his post as republican interior minister in 1998 and was offered a post in the Russian Interior Ministry at that time.

Galimov was one of the key Tatarstan officials who in 1998 tried to get former Chally Mayor Rafgat Altinbaev elected to the post of Tatarstan State Council chairman despite President Shaimiev's disagreement.

Agriculture Ministry Official Says Cold Weather Endangering Harvest
Tatarstan Deputy Minister of Agriculture Tahir Khadeev told reporters yesterday that last week's frost "damaged crops in all 43 regions" of Tatarstan, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Khadeev said that his ministry has already sent a videotape shot in the Kukmara region of Tatarstan last week showing 30-40 centimeters of snow covering the region's fields to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture in order to prove previous reports about cold weather conditions endangering this year's harvest. He added that since the temperature in some regions of Tatarstan reached minus 13 degrees on 14 May, "it would inevitably have an effect on the grain harvest.... But this is simply proof that [Tatarstan] is in a zone where farming is risky."

KamAZ Begins Truck Supplies To Afghanistan
The KamAZ automotive concern sent its first shipment of 50 KamAZ-43114 off-road trucks to Afghanistan yesterday, the company's press service announced the same day.

In accordance with a contract signed by KamAZ and the interim government of Afghanistan on 14 March, KamAZ is to supply Kabul with 137 trucks and $600,000 worth of spare parts. The agreement also called for the creation of KamAZ service centers, a network of dealers, and training centers for local automotive technicians in Afghanistan.

During the March negotiations, the Afghan side confirmed that more than 1,000 state-owned and some 5,000 privately owned KamAZ heavy trucks are currently in use in Afghanistan, which represents the majority of heavy trucks in the country.

Shaimiev Backs New Administration Head In Layesh
President Shaimiev took part in a session of the Layesh region's Council of People's Deputies yesterday, where he backed the appointment of Aleksandr Timofeev as acting head of the regional administration to replace Anatolii Demidov, who recently resigned, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today.

Shaimiev thanked Demidov for making Layesh one of the most successful agricultural regions in the republic, and he noted the importance of carrying on the tradition of appointing ethnic Russians as head of the regional administration.

Only seven of Tatarstan's 43 regional administrations are headed by ethnic Russians, while the remaining administrations are headed by Tatars.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

President Calls Constitutional Assembly
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov signed a decree yesterday to call a meeting of Bashkortostan's Constitutional Assembly on 30 May, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The purpose of the assembly is "to complete the constitutional-reform [process] by taking into account the proposals of citizens, state bodies, political parties, trade unions, religious organizations, and other civic organizations," the decree read.

Rakhimov will chair the meeting, while Bashkortostan State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev, Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov, and Justice Minister Vladimir Spele will be a part of the assembly's presidium.

Republic's Foreign Trade Remains Export-Dominated
Bashkortostan's foreign-trade turnover reached $307 million during the first quarter of 2002, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. Oil products and mineral resources dominated the republic's exports, which exceed imports by six times. Imports were made up mostly of industrial machinery and transportation equipment.

China is reportedly the largest importer of goods produced in Bashkortostan, purchasing $79.6 million worth of goods from the republic in the first three months of 2002, while Germany and the Netherlands are the second- and third-largest importers, respectively, of goods from the republic.

Germany also led the way in terms of exports to Bashkortostan, sending $10.6 million worth of goods to the republic in the first quarter, while China and the United States, were in second and third place, respectively.

Government Pledges To Dismiss Directors Of Debtor Enterprises
Lev Bakusov, Bashkortostan's minister of labor and social protection, told a government meeting on 25 May that as a result of the increasing wage debt in a large number of the republic's industries, the government will begin firing the directors of state-owned companies where employees are owed wages for the last three months, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported yesterday.

The Russian Labor Code, which was adopted in 2001, allows employees to go on strike if their salaries are delayed for more than 15 days.

Geologists Set Sights On Chelyabinsk Oblast
The Bashkortostan government's administration of geology and nonrenewable resources is planning to establish closer ties with official geology-related bodies in the neighboring Chelyabinsk Oblast, Bashinform reported yesterday. Bashkortostan geologists are also reportedly planning to take part in tenders for developing the Simskii and Kukashinskii phosphate and copper deposits in the oblast.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi