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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 4, 2002

4 June 2002
Shaimiev Says Protection of Human Rights Should Fall Under Joint Jurisdiction
At a 30 May meeting on power sharing between the federal government and the regions, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev said he was "worried that some of those working on the [state] concept [on the delegation of powers between federal state bodies and regional state bodies] want to put powers regarding the protection of human rights under exclusive federal jurisdiction," the Tatarstan presidential press service announced on 3 June. Shaimiev said that the protection of "an individual's rights and freedoms should be put under the joint jurisdiction" of Moscow and the regions.

Government Discusses Republic's Enterprises...
Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers met yesterday to discuss government activities for increasing the number of profitable companies in the republic, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. According to information reported by the Tatarstan Ministry of Economy and Industry, more than 60 percent of the republic's companies were profitable at the end of 2001, while at the end of 1999, just under 50 percent of companies were reported as being profitable. The ministry reported that as many as 932 companies underwent bankruptcy procedures in 2001, while another 1,116 enterprises managed to avoid bankruptcy by implementing their own anticrisis measures.

Nonetheless, Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said he wasn't satisfied with the committee's work or with the work of the corresponding ministries, "because our work has not shown any great results."

�While Agriculture Minister Says Farms Owe Billions Of Rubles
Tatarstan Agriculture Minister Marat Akhmetov told the same cabinet meeting yesterday that the republic's farms owe 15 billion rubles ($483.8) in bank loans and unpaid taxes to federal, republican, and local budgets, reported the same day. Akhmetov said that the combination of increasing expenses for the maintenance of agricultural machinery and poor harvests was not the only reason for the lack of profits at collective farms. He said that the problem was actually linked to many of the executive officials at the farms who "lack market-economy experience and still hope for continuing subsidies from the state."

Writers Union Holds Congress In Kazan
The 14th congress of the Tatarstan Writers Union gathered in Kazan on 1 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. President Shaimiev spoke at the event, outlining his government's plans to continue efforts to unite the Tatar nation and to promote its self-identity and culture. Following their approval of the president's speech, congress delegates re-elected Foat Galimullin to a second term as head of the union.

Flood Halts Subway Construction, Forces Office Workers To Evacuate
An underground flood stopped construction on Kazan's Tukay Meydani subway station and forced employees of a number of companies and the Tatarstan Ministry of Youth, Sport, and Tourism to evacuate their workplaces on 2 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. The office workers fled when large cracks began to appear in the foundations of their buildings soon after the flooding began.

Chief engineering officials at the subway station declined to comment on the incident. Some of the workers at the construction site, however, told Efir television that the flood began when they discovered an old underground tunnel filled with water. Speaking on the quality of the tunnel's construction, the workers added that, "Even with modern technology, we couldn't build the same [kind of tunnel]."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Historian Claims Sabantuy Has Bashkir Origins
The traditional Sabantuy holiday marking the end of the sowing season began in Bashkortostan on 1 June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported yesterday. During the weekend of 1-2 June, festivities were held in the Bakali, Baltach, Kushanren, Ziyanchura, Ermekey, and Arkhangel regions of the republic. Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov took part in the celebrations in the Baltach and Arkhangel regions. The Bashkortostan government newspaper "Yashlek" published an article yesterday by Bashkir historian Zakirjan Aminov of the Ufa Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In the article, Aminov suggested that Sabantuy originated among Bashkirs, citing the fact that Bashkirs used to worship the plow as evidence of this.

Prior to this publication, the issue of the ethnic origin of the holiday had never been raised officially in Bashkortostan or Tatarstan. Instead, it was considered the joint holiday of both peoples.

Tatar Congress In Bashkortostan Remains In Limbo
The organizers of the World Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 3 June that they recently asked the Bashkortostan presidential administration why President Rakhimov has not signed a decree allowing the congress. An administration official who asked not to be named said the president hasn't signed a decree to allow the congress because he is still waiting for a letter from the World Tatar Congress explaining why it is necessary to hold such an event. Congress officials in Kazan responded by saying that they had sent a letter to Rakhimov in April.

It is not clear, however, what regulations require that the president sign a decree to allow the event in the first place. In neighboring Tatarstan, for example, the republican president only signs decrees regarding public events when they require state support.

Activist Wins Law Suit, Fails To Get Job Back
Human-rights activist Rafika Aminova, former principal of the first political-science gymnasium in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 3 June that the Bashkortostan Supreme Court issued a resolution earlier this year overruling the 1999 order of Ufa's Oktyabrskii Raion Department of Education to dismiss her. Nonetheless, the Department of Education has not followed the court's ruling and the present school administration will not even allow her to enter the building, Aminova said.

Aminova established an organization for the protection of human rights in Bashkortostan in 2000. She suspects that this has led to a number of attacks on her and her family, including the bombing of her car last year. Following these attacks, a number of international human-rights organizations offered Aminova and her family asylum, but they have refused to leave Bashkortostan.

Human-Rights Commissioner Discusses Situation Regarding Republic's Youth
Bashkortostan Human-Rights Commissioner Chingiz Gazizov said on 1 June, International Children's Day, that more than 3,000 orphans were registered in the republic in 2001, an increase of 50 percent since 1999. Gazizov added that medical examinations of children and teenagers in Bashkortostan show that about 70 percent of the republic's youth are not healthy. The commissioner also said that there were 90 teenage suicides in the republic in 2001, which was an increase from previous years.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi