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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 5, 2002

5 June 2002
Tatarstan, Belarus Officials Discuss Joint Projects
Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk yesterday, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today, citing the Belarusian presidential press service. The two discussed plans for closer cooperation between Tatarstan and Belarus in the automotive and oil-processing industries. Lukashenka said that Belarusian companies did not want to compete with Tatarstan enterprises. He added that Belarus and Tatarstan were suited for cooperation since they share many similar industries. The Belarusian leader also said that he would like Tatarstan businessmen to participate in the privatization of state-owned companies in Belarus.

In response, Minnikhanov said that Tatarstan was interested in the projects proposed by Lukashenka, adding that the republican government will study them thoroughly.

Later the same day, Minnikhanov met with Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Drazhin to discuss the possibility of opening a production facility of the Minsk-based Belarus Tractor Plant in Tatarstan's Alabuga free economic zone.

University Rectors Push Students To Enter Technical Fields
Nail Khairullin, chairman of the Tatarstan Council of University Rectors, told a press conference on 4 June that surveys conducted in the republic show that 90 percent of Tatarstan's high-school graduates plan to study law or economics at university, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. Khairullin pointed out that specialists in law and economics "already make up a large portion of the unemployed" in Tatarstan. He added, however, that the republic has a growing demand for experts in petrochemicals, energy production, and the automotive industry.

Kazan State Technical University Rector Gennadii Degtyarev said at the press conference that the republic can develop its economy only through higher technology and therefore, he called on high-school graduates to choose technical studies over law and economics.

Shaimiev Appoints New Head Of State Television Company
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev appointed Irek Murtazin, former head of the presidential press service, as chairman of the Tatarstan State Television and Radio Company (GTRK Tatarstan) today, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Former GTRK Tatarstan Chairman Ilshat Aminov will reportedly be appointed head of Tatarstan's New Century television company.

In accordance with current media reforms by Moscow, GTRK Tatarstan is to come under the aegis of Russian state television. The company's equipment, which had been purchased by the Tatarstan government, is to be transferred to New Century television, which was created by the republic's Ministry of Land and Property Relations and the influential Tatar-American Investments and Finance group.

Interior Ministry Planning To Publicize Peculiarities Of Tatarstan Passports
Sergei Gavrilchik, deputy head of the Tatarstan Interior Ministry's Passport-Visa Service, said that the Russian Interior Ministry is planning to produce a special program to be shown countrywide on Russia's ORT state television in order to prevent unpleasant incidents for the republic's residents while traveling throughout the country, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported today. The program will explain the inclusion of additional pages in the Russian passports of Tatarstan citizens that include notes in the Tatar language, as well as the state symbols of Tatarstan. A number of Tatarstan citizens have expressed concern that Russian police officers outside the republic are unaware of the inclusion of these extra pages and that they have shown suspicion while conducting document checks.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Two More Russian Citizens Detained At Guantanamo Bay
Igor Tkachev, an investigator at the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office in the North Caucasus region, said that two more Russian citizens suspected of serving with the Taliban are in detention at a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Russia's "Izvestiya" daily reported on 5 June. Russian and international news agencies first reported about the detainment of Russian citizens Shamil Khazhiev, Ravil Gumarov, and Rasul Kudaev at the beginning of April. No further information about the two more-recent detainees is known (see, "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3, 4, 15, 23 April 2002 and 10 May 2002).

Rakhimov's Defamation Suit Against Yabloko Leader Set To Begin In Moscow
The Kuntsevskii Intermunicipal Court of Moscow is set to begin hearing a defamation suit brought by Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov against Yabloko party leader Grigorii Yavlinsky today, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily reported today. Rakhimov filed the suit against Yavlinsky in response to Yabloko's actions following the 1999 elections for the Russian State Duma, when the party distributed leaflets calling the Bashkortostan government "a feudal regime that oppresses human rights." The Russian Supreme Court heard the case in November when it decided to turn it over to the Kuntsevskii court.

Duma Deputy Says Communist Party May Split Up
Russian State Duma Deputy Zainulla Bagishaev from Bashkortostan told Bashinform on 4 June that, "Russia's Communist Party faces the risk of splitting up following the expulsion of members Gennadii Seleznev, Svetlana Goryacheva, and Nikolai Gubenko" the same day. Bagishaev added that the "Communist Party had reached a crucial time" and had to give up its old, traditional approaches toward the party's work, since it risked being marginalized if it didn't change.

Health Ministry Releases HIV Statistics
The Bashkortostan Health Ministry announced on 4 June that at the beginning of the month there were 3,440 HIV-positive people registered in the republic. About 75 percent of registered HIV cases are among people between the ages of 18 and 30. Thirty-one of the registered cases are pregnant women, 29 of whom have registered with the ministry this year. The ministry added that the main causes of the spread of HIV in Bashkortostan are the use of unclean needles among drug addicts and unsafe sex.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi