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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 12, 2002

12 June 2002
Tatarstan, Sverdlovsk Oblast Agree On Further Cooperation...
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel signed a protocol on trade and economic cooperation in Yekaterinburg on 11 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 June 2002). The protocol is to be included as an appendix to the 1997 bilateral treaty between Tatarstan and Sverdlovsk Oblast on the principles of economic, scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation.

Shaimiev and officials from the World Tatar Congress also met with representatives of the Tatar National Cultural Autonomy in the oblast the same day. Shaimiev assured the region's Tatar population that, "Tatarstan never did, and never will, let down those [Tatars] who live in the Urals." He also thanked Rossel for "his contribution to the revival of Islam and the construction of mosques [in Sverdlovsk Oblast]."

Rossel noted at the meeting that Ural Tatars "are hard-working [and] honest�. They always solve their problems by themselves."

...As Republic Increases Ties With Iran
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and the governor of Iran's East Azerbaijan Province, Mohammadali Sobhanellahi, signed a protocol on bilateral cooperation between Tatarstan and the province on 11 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 June 2002).

The protocol calls for joint activities by Tatarstan's Tatneft oil company and the administration of the Iranian province in the field of oil prospecting; the possibility of building a motor-oil plant in the province's capital, Tebriz; and carrying out studies on the possibility of trading trucks produced by Tatarstan's KamAZ automotive concern for Iranian goods, such as carpets and agricultural products.

Governor Sobhanellahi also met the same day with Deputy Chairman of the Tatar State Council Robert Minnulin to discuss Iran's state system and the legislative basis for relations with the federal government.

The same day, Tebriz Mayor Ebadolla Fathollahi and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov signed a memorandum on friendship and cooperation between the two cities. Fathollahi said that Tatarstan and Iran share a long history of close ties, pointing out that his grandfather used to lead trade caravans to the Tatar capital.

Copy Of Holy Icon Discovered In Kazan
Deputy Chairwoman of the Kazan Council of People's Deputies Lyudmila Andreeva said on 11 June that the discovery of a small copy of the Kazan Mother of God icon by archeologists on the territory of Kazan State University on 8 June, "has a symbolic meaning, showing that the original Kazan Mother of God icon wants to return to Kazan."

For the past several years, the Kazan city administration has been trying to arrange for the return of what many believe is the original Kazan Mother of God icon from the Vatican. Kazan Mayor Iskhakov and presidential adviser Rafael Khakimov paid a visit to the Vatican to discuss the possible return of the icon, but the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church protested direct contact with the Roman Catholic Church.

Republic Largely Ignores Independence Anniversary
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to Tatar President Shaimiev on 11 June, congratulating the republic on the 12th anniversary of Russia's declaration of independence, republican press reported today. However, none of the republic's media outlets featured any special reports on Russia's independence, nor were any festivities held in the republic to mark the anniversary.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Marks Russia Day With Message To People...
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov issued a statement to the people of Bashkortostan on 11 June to congratulate them on the 12th anniversary of Russia's declaration of independence, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Rakhimov sent his "cordial greetings on the most important holiday in modern Russia�which also led to significant changes in Bashkortostan, which is inseparably linked with great Russia."

...And Receives Greetings From Putin
Also on 11 June, Rakhimov received a message marking Russia Day from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bashkir State television reported the same day. The message was the same as those sent to Rakhimov's counterparts in other regions, saying that: "Twelve years ago�Russia began its course toward building a democratic state, to which it is still dedicated today. [Since that time], political and economic freedoms, human rights, and dignity have become our main values."

Bashkir Parliament Continues Work On Legal Harmonization
The Bashkir State Assembly decided on 11 June to nullify the republic's law on collective treaties and agreements, which contradicts federal laws on state bodies in subjects of the Russian Federation, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The republican parliament also passed a draft law on state support to young families in its second reading. The draft was developed on the basis of legislation in neighboring Tatarstan that provides for granting long-term real-estate loans to parents under 30 years of age.

Mosque To Be Built At Ufa Airport
Construction is set to begin on a mosque at the airport in Ufa on the first day of the World Bashkir Congress on 14 June, Bashinform reported on 10 June. The mosque is being built to provide Muslims with a convenient place to pray while traveling through the Bashkir capital.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi