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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 7, 2002

7 June 2002
Shaimiev Promotes Seleznev As Leader Of New Leftist Movement
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 5 June that State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, who was expelled from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2002), could lead a left-of-center political movement that could be more influential than the KPRF. Shaimiev said that unlike KPRF leader Gennadii Zyuganov, Seleznev is not closely linked to the activities of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Shaimiev said an "extremely favorable situation" has arisen for Seleznev, since leftist forces could come together under his leadership. Shaimiev stressed that Seleznev has not been a proponent of radical leftist views over the past few years but has sought a more acceptable ideology for the KPRF. Shaimiev predicted that a left-of-center movement headed by Seleznev could receive at least as many votes as the KPRF in the next State Duma elections. He said the leftist movement needs to develop new ideas, but the KPRF is incapable of renewing its ideology.

Duma Deputy Says Tatars Will Use Latin Script Despite Proposed Amendments To Language Law
Russian State Duma Deputy from Tatarstan Fandas Safiullin said proposed amendments to the Russian law on languages that was passed in its first reading by the State Duma on 5 June contradict several provisions of the Russian Constitution and discriminate against the Tatar language in comparison with nonstate languages in the country (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 June 2002). If passed into law, the proposed amendments will prohibit the use in Russia of non-Cyrillic scripts for state languages. According to the draft, Armenian schools in Russia, for example, would be allowed to use a non-Cyrillic script for their language while Tatar schools would not, Safiullin said. He added, however, that the draft is "so weak that it won't have any serious consequences for Tatarstan."

The republic may try to avoid the consequences of the law by temporarily changing the status of Tatar from a state language to a nonstate language, Safiullin said. In any case, Tatars will continue to use the Latin script since it is better-suited to the language, he added.

Safiullin said the proposed amendments strike a blow to pro-Russian forces in former Soviet republics, since even the idea of a merger with Russia would be unacceptable for numerous peoples, since Russia "would force its subjects to use the Cyrillic script."

Tatarstan, Moscow Oblast To Boost Ties
Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Deputy Prime Minister of the Moscow Oblast Aleksei Panteleev signed a cooperation protocol on 6 June in Kazan, Finmarket reported the same day. A delegation from the Moscow Oblast, including the region's economy, finance, transport, and press ministers visited Kazan to continue negotiations on joint cooperation projects that began during the 17 April visit of a Tatarstan delegation to Moscow (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 April 2002). The two subjects of the Russian Federation agreed to work on joint projects in agriculture, aircraft construction, and satellite television.

Turkic, Finno-Ugric Groups Call For Establishment Of Regional Confederations
A meeting of the heads of civic groups representing Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia held in Kazan on 1 June passed a resolution calling for the creation of Eurasian regional federations, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 6 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 June 2002).

According to the resolution, regional confederations would be able to form legislative, executive, and judicial bodies to promote collective security; to defend jointly the sovereign rights and interests of their entities and peoples; to implement joint economic projects, including the creation of independent regional energy systems; and to maintain and develop national cultures, traditions, languages, and education of all the peoples living in the confederations.

The authors of the resolution said that Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples can preserve their national identity only under the condition of national freedom, which can be provided by uniting into regional confederations throughout the territory of Eurasia.

TIU Leader Says Attack Not Business-Related
In his first public interview since he was savagely beaten by a group of unknown assailants on 29 May, Rafis Kashapov, leader of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally, rejected the notion that the attack was related to his commercial interests, saying instead that it was "politically motivated," reported on 6 June. The TIU leader denied reports of his involvement in a gasoline business, which is actually owned by his twin brother Nafis Kashapov, and he added that he has not been involved in any business dealings in the last 15 years.

Rashid Khafizov, a member of the TIU in Chally who was also beaten on 29 May, said the assailants operated efficiently and in a "militaristic manner." He denied reports by the Tatarstan Interior Ministry that witnesses have refused to cooperate with investigators or to identify the attackers. "We haven't been asked to identify a single person," Khafizov said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Hints At Bashkortostan Becoming Parliamentary Republic
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov hasn't ruled out the possibility of Bashkortostan becoming a parliamentary republic during the course of constitutional reform in the republic, "Vremya MN" daily reported on 31 May. Rakhimov was cited as saying that the republic's Constitutional Assembly should develop proposals on the republic's state system that are satisfactory to all people. "If civic organizations think it is necessary to establish a parliamentary republic, their wish will be granted," Rakhimov said. The paper commented that with this statement, Rakhimov was saying that he was ready to annul the presidency and become prime minister if he is prohibited from running for a third term as Bashkortostan president.

Bashinformsvyaz Announces Annual Highlights
Salavat Gaisin, general director of Bashkortostan's leading telecommunications company Bashinformsvyaz, announced at the company's annual general shareholders meeting on 6 June that with capital of 985 million rubles ($31.3 million), it was ranked the 12th-largest telecommunications company in Russia by "Expert" magazine. The magazine also said it was the 39th-largest company in Russia in all spheres in terms of capitalization.

Of highlights announced at the meeting, the company said that it has doubled its number of telephone lines to 1.1 billion over the past decade. The volume of services provided by the company in 2001 grew by 30 percent over the previous year, while profits totaled 277 million rubles ($8.8 million). The company provided telephone lines to 40,000 new customers in 2001. Currently, 71 percent of households in urban areas and 25.4 percent in rural areas have telephone lines.

The company has invested more than $100 million in the development of communications in the past five years.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova