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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 18, 2002

18 June 2002
Duma Deputy From Tatarstan Comments On The Script Amendment...
Commenting on the draft amendment to the Law on Russia's Peoples' Languages obliging republics within the Russian Federation to use only Cyrillic-based scripts for expressing their languages passed by Russian State Duma in the first reading on 5 June, Duma Deputy representing Tatarstan Mikhail Rokitskii said in an interview published by "Vremya i Dengi" on 18 June that he wasn't able to take part in that vote because he was on a business trip to the U.S. but asked his colleague Nail Khusnutdinov, also elected in Tatarstan, to vote against the draft on his behalf, (which is legal according to Duma regulations).

In making this statement, Rokitskii rejected recent statements by Duma Deputy Fendes Safiullin, who said that Rokitskii, as well as other Fatherland-All-Russia faction Deputies from Tatarstan Feride Gaynullina and Flera Ziyatdinova, didn't take part in the vote. Meanwhile, Gaynullina and Ziyatdinova have yet to comment on the reason why they didn't vote on a bill concerning the Tatar script reform in Tatarstan.

In Rokitskii's opinion, "Tatars should decide on which script to use for their language, not the peoples living in Russia or in Tatarstan and of course not the Russian government." He noted that it wasn't Tatarstan's government but the World Tatar Congress who proposed the script reform.

...As Kirienko Criticizes Duma's Initiative...
Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko, visiting Tuben Kama, Tatarstan, on 14-15 June, expressed his disapproval of the Duma's move to enforce the use of the Cyrillic script by republics in Russia, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 17 June. Kirienko reportedly stated that the script issue should be resolved "by teachers and scientists, not the Duma."

...And Duma's Legal Department Also Uncertain About Draft's Legality
The State Duma's Legal Department stated in its official comment regarding the above-mentioned draft amendment that it violated two articles of the Russian Constitution, which stipulate the right of federation entities to decide on their language issues, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 18 June.

Tatneft Plants To Increase Efficiency By Restructuring Assets
According to "Vedomosti" on 17 June, the Tatneft oil company began restructuring its assets by establishing the Tatneftegazpererabotka and Tatneft-Neftekhim companies for managing its gas-extraction and oil-processing businesses, respectively. As a result, Tatneft-Neftekhim will soon take control of the Tatneft-owned joint-stock Tuben Kama tires plant, Tuben Kama technical carbon plant, Tuben Kama mechanical plant, and a number of similar industries in Russia's regions. In future, Tatneft plans to merge these companies and introduce a unified set of shares to be used for all of them. Meanwhile, Tatneftegazpererabotka will reportedly run the extraction of associated gas at all Tatneft's oil wells and manage the Minnbaevsky gas processing plant in Tatarstan.

Army Deserters From Tatarstan Not Returning To Their Base
None of the four missing recruits from the Tatar Republic returned to their military base in Perm Oblast by the 17 June deadline set by their military commanders, Efir TV reported yesterday. The recruits were detained at the Kazan river port after deserting their base on 14 June, which they explained was because of violence committed against them by senior servicemen. On 4 May their friend Marat Khuzin, recruited in Kazan, was murdered at the same military base because of an "accidental" punch to the head, according to the military officials quoted by Efir two weeks ago.

Three of the detained recruits are planning to appeal for alternative army service while the fourth, Ruslan Khabibullin, is planning to protest his recruitment by means of medical re-examination during which he will again present documents proving his kidney malfunction. According to him, these documents were neglected by the military doctors during the previous examinations.

Tatarstan's Deputy Military Prosecutor Marat Fedorov told Efir on 17 June that "leaving the military base is not a solution" and called on the recruits to complain about the violence to their superiors. He added that "an appeal for alternative service may be filed only before an individual is drafted to army service."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

New Body Established To Revise Power-Sharing Treaty With Moscow
According to a Bashkir presidential staff official quoted by RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 18 June, President Murtaza Rakhimov has established a working group on amending the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Bashkortostan. Rakhimov decreed that the group is to be led by State Assembly speaker Konstantin Tolkachev, while head of the presidential staff Ildar Gimaev, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Sigakov, Constitutional Court Chairman Ildus Adigamov, Russian State Duma Deputy from Bashkortostan Mikhail Bugera, and former Bashkir State Secretary, now rector of the Bashkir State Service Academy Mansur Ayupov are to work as work group members.

The group is to present a list of proposals to President Rakhimov by 3 July and later these proposals are to be reflected by an additional protocol to be added to the text of the document.

President Rakhimov and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the power-sharing treaty in August 1994; in November 2000 the text of this treaty was added to Bashkortostan's new constitution. In May 2002 Rakhimov issued a decree on calling up the Constitutional Assembly for amending the constitution and presenting the new draft by fall of this year.

New Congress Leader Promotes Close Ties Between Bashkortostan And Tatarstan...
Speaking to RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 17 June, newly elected leader of the World Bashkir Congress, Ekhmet Suleimanov said that it was vital to maintain close ties and cooperation between Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and the Tatar and Bashkir peoples, "because if for example Tatarstan loses its status, it means that Bashkortostan will also be deprived of it, the same goes to our peoples."

...Calls For 'Unbiased' Historical Research To Find Out Ethnic Origin Of Republic Residents
He also commented on the current ethnic-based tensions between Bashkirs and Tatars in the light of the upcoming national census, saying, "those who are historically Tatars must remain Tatars, those who are historically Bashkirs must remain Bashkirs." He called for "unbiased historical research which is to help find out the ethnic roots of different families, otherwise history will not forgive us." However the most widespread historical theory promoted by many of the Bashkir historians and media now is the one saying that many Bashkortostan residents, especially in the northwest of the republic, are ethnic Bashkir who lost their roots and were assimilated by Tatars.

Bashkir Congress Picketers Given Formal Punishment
Ufa's Lenin district court on 17 June considered the case of five Tatars who staged a picket on 14 June in front of the Ufa Neftyanik Palace of Culture in which the World Bashkir Congress began, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. On 14 June police detained the picketers but released them the same day. The court issued a symbolic 50-ruble ($1.6) fine to the organizer of the event, Milli Mejlis leader Marat Ramazanov, while other participants received only formal warnings for holding the picket without the previous consent of city authorities.

Picketers now reportedly plan to sue the police officers who detained them for more than three hours, in violation of the Administrative Code. Ramazanov told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent that his picket intended to hand a message devoted to the situation of Tatar rights in Bashkortostan to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, who attended the Bashkir Congress.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi