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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 20, 2002

20 June 2002
Journalists Union Holds Congress In Kazan
Tatarstan's Union of Journalists held a congress in Kazan on 19 June, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. Despite rumors that union chairwoman Rimma Ratnikova was to be replaced because of her possible appointment as a spokeswoman for Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, she was re-elected to head the union. Nonetheless, a number of delegates criticized Ratnikova's activities, while others said it was vital that the work of the union's Biller Kalem (Crystal Quill) prize committee be more transparent, "because it has at times not been clear why this or that media outlet was chosen for the prize."

Samara Government Planning To Launch Tatar TV Broadcasts
During Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov's visit to Samara Oblast on 18 June, oblast Deputy Governor Viktor Kazakov said that in addition to the Radio 7 Tatar-language radio station that currently operates in Samara Oblast, his administration is planning to launch Tatar-language television broadcasts for up to two hours a day, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Chairman of Tatarstan New Century TV Ilshat Aminov, who was a part of the Tatar delegation, said his company was prepared to offer its programs for rebroadcasting by Samara Oblast television (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 June 2002).

Tatar Minister, Hungarian Official Discuss Ways To Boost Trade
Tatar Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov met with the Hungarian trade representative in Russia Imre Yavorsky in Kazan on 19 June to discuss ways of boosting bilateral trade, which currently totals $27.5 million annually, thus making Hungary Tatarstan's 19th-largest trading partner. Salikhov said it was necessary to increase supplies of Hungarian wine to the republic, while Yavorsky said his country could also offer pharmaceutical and agricultural technologies to Tatarstan.

Tatar President Visits Leninogorsk Region
President Shaimiev visited the Leninogorsk region of Tatarstan on 19 June to check on the living conditions of local teachers, medical workers, and young families who recently obtained new houses at the expense of the local budget, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day, citing the governmental press service. Shaimiev also visited local industries and praised local businessmen for implementing modern Western technologies for establishing new ventures and for upgrading methods of agricultural production. Shaimiev is expected to visit the Cheremshan region of Tatarstan today.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Russian Supreme Court Annuls 37 Articles Of Bashkir Constitution
The Russian Supreme Court ruled on 18 June that 37 articles of the Bashkir Constitution contradict federal legislation, RIA-Novosti reported the same day, citing Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General in charge of the Volga Federal District Aleksandr Zvyagintsev. In March, the Bashkir Supreme Court ruled that 20 articles of the republican constitution contradicted federal laws and another 13 articles were invalid (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 20 March 2002, 15, 19 and 30 April 2002). The court did not, however, rule against a number of controversial articles, including those on Bashkortostan's sovereignty and on the republican president's powers to declare a state of emergency, to appoint members of the republican electoral commission, and to appoint the heads of local administrations of the Russian Central Bank. Zvyagintsev was dissatisfied with the republican court's ruling and appealed on 8 April to the Russian Supreme Court. RIA-Novosti quoted Zvyagintsev as saying that he is satisfied with the verdict of the federal court. "The burden of its implementation [of the ruling] is completely on the legislative body of Bashkortostan," Zvyagintsev added.

Paper: World Bashkir Congress Lends Support To Rakhimov
"Kommersant" daily reported on 17 June that the main goal of the organizers of the second World Bashkir Congress held in Ufa on 14-15 June was to show support for Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov. The daily said the Kremlin is thinking about having Rakhimov replaced by someone "more loyal to the federal center" in the 2003 elections. Though the issue of the next presidential elections was not on the congress agenda, Rakhimov received a great ovation and was called "the father of the [Bashkir] nation" who turned Bashkortostan into a self-sufficient state and is now fighting for its independence, "Kommersant" wrote. The paper commented that while Moscow is working out its position on the Bashkir presidential elections, Rakhimov decided to remind the Kremlin who is the guarantor of stability in multiethnic Bashkortostan.

Teachers End Hunger Strike, Demands Met
Teachers from the Neftekamsk secondary school No. 1 have put an end to the hunger strike they began on 10 June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 19 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 14 June 2002 and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 June 2002). The teachers were protesting the decision of the republican Education Ministry to move teachers and students to other schools and to open an affiliate of Bashkir State University in the school building. After strikers appealed to the federal Education Ministry, Bashkir Education Minister Galiya Mukhamedyanova decided not to close the school.

Dates For Tatar Congress Announced
At its meeting on 19 June, the organizing committee of Bashkortostan's second Tatar congress set 9-10 August as the dates for the forum, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Organizers plan to hold sessions on history, culture, education, and youth affairs within the framework of the congress. A bust of Tatar poet Gabdulla Tukai will be unveiled on Ufa's Tukai Street during the forum.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova