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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 11, 2002

11 July 2002
Shaimiev Frowns Upon Proposals To Stop Oil Extraction In Region
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev told Interfax on 10 July that several oil companies working in Siberia have lobbied for their own interests in suggesting that oil production in the Volga region be stopped. Shaimiev was commenting on the results of his visit to the Mordovian capital of Saransk where he took part in an 8 July meeting on the socioeconomic development of the Volga Federal District, which was chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shaimiev said all the oil deposits in the district are old and exhausted. He said that those companies suggesting that oil extraction in the district be stopped "are not thinking about the millions of people employed in the oil industry in the Volga [Federal] District." Shaimiev said that such companies do not care about the future of Siberian deposits. Some of the deposits, such as Surgutskoe, have been shut down or have became unprofitable. Shaimiev named Tatarstan's Romashkinskoe deposit, which has produced 2.1 billion tons of oil in the past 50 years and which produces 14.5 million tons annually, as an example of efficient exploitation.

Mukhametshin Holds Meetings In Moscow
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin was in Moscow on 9 July for a series of meetings, including with the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, to discuss amendments to the power-sharing treaty between the Russian Federation and Tatarstan, Tatar-inform reported on 10 July. Amendments are being made in order to bring the treaty into line with the recently amended Tatar Constitution.

While in Moscow, Mukhametshin also met with Federation Council senators from Tatarstan, Rafgat Altynbaev and Irina Larochkina, to discuss plans for their work during the next session of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.

During a meeting with Renat Akchurin, leader of the Russia-wide Tatar civic organization Watanym, the two discussed the issues of developing cooperation, as well as the development of the Tatar language and culture.

Finally, Mukhametshin met with Abdulvakhed Niyazov, chairman of the Political Council of the Eurasian Party of Russia, to discuss prospects for developing party structures, the election of a party leader, creating a regional branch of the Eurasian Party of Russian in Tatarstan, and mutual cooperation.

Russian Minister Discusses Nationalities Question
In an interview published in "VremyaMN" on 10 July, Vladimir Zorin, the Russian minister in charge of nationalities policy, said the Soviet Union followed a policy that resulted in the artificial establishment of nations and ethnic groups, while certain ethnic groups were ignored or forced to merge with larger groups. Zorin said that Soviet censuses listed 126 nationalities and ethnic groups, while there are currently 176 such groups in the Russian Federation, in accordance with data provided by the Moscow Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Zorin said that the process of figuring out what groups were forced to join other groups is still continuing. Zorin added that several subjects of the Russian Federation have made attempts to increase the number of members of a certain nationality or to decrease the number of members of another nationality, though he stressed that a nation's status does not depend on the size of its population.

The "VremyaMN" report said that according to the 1989 Soviet census, Russians formed the largest nationality with 119.8 million people, while Tatars were second with 5.5 million, and Ukrainians third with 4.3 million. At a 18-19 June conference on education in a multiethnic Russian, however, Zorin said that Ukrainians are currently Russia's second-largest ethnic group, while Tatars are third, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 1 July.

Duma Deputy Backs Request Of Muslim Women
State Duma Deputy Flyura Ziyatdinova told Tatar-inform on 10 July that she is going to call on her colleagues to back the request by members of the Union of Muslim Women of Tatarstan that Muslim women be allowed to wear traditional Muslim headdresses while having passport photographs taken. Ziyatdinova said that if the courts do not satisfy the appeals of Muslim women, she will initiate a collective appeal to the Russian interior minister, claiming that their rights are being violated (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 July 2002).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Swiss President Planning To Visit Russia For Memorial Services
Swiss President Kaspar Villiger intends to visit Russia in connection with planned memorial services for the victims of a 1 July crash between a Bashkir Airlines Tupolev 154 and a DHL Boeing 757 that claimed the lives of 71 people, most of whom were residents of Bashkortostan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), RIA-Novosti reported today.

International Commission To Receive Flight Data Today
Flight data and radio transmissions from the Tu-154 and Boeing 757 involved in the 1 July crash will be handed over today to an international commission investigating the incident, RIA-Novosti reported today. The German agency for investigating aviation disasters has already inspected the data contained in the airplanes' black boxes and claims to have a "complete picture" of what led to the accident.

The international commission, which includes experts from Russia, Switzerland, the United States, and Bahrain, will study the German agency's information and then compile its own report that may reveal exactly what caused the mid-air collision.

Bashkir Officials Make Donations To Support Victims' Families
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov led a number of Bashkir officials in making donations to a special fund set up to raise money for the families of those who died in the 1 July plane crash, the presidential press service reported on 10 July. Rakhimov reportedly donated his entire monthly salary of 6,420 rubles ($207) to the account, while officials from his staff reportedly raised more than 30,000 rubles ($967). Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov reportedly donated 5,000 rubles ($161) to the account, and members of the financial, industrial, and construction departments, as well as the deputy prime minister, each donated 1,000 rubles ($32).

Putin Thanks Germany For Assistance Following Crash
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the German government for its assistance following the 1 July plane crash near Lake Constance in southern Germany, RIA-Novosti reported on 10 July. In a telephone conversation with Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber, Putin said he would like to pass on the thanks of the families of crash victims to the German government.

Ufa Residents Earning Higher Wages Than Rest Of Republic
Bashkir state radio quoted the Ufa city administration as saying on 10 July that residents of the republic's capital earned incomes 25-30 percent more than other residents of the republic in 2001. Residents of Bashkortostan earned on average 2,340 rubles ($75) per month in 2001, whereas their urban counterparts in Ufa earned on average 4,010 rubles ($130) per month during the same period. Pensioners, however, earned only 1,104 rubles ($35) per month last year.

The report also said that Ufa residents spent as much as 42 percent of their income on food and 10 percent on housing and other fees.

Nonetheless, the accounts of Ufa residents at Russia's Sberbank grew by 41 percent in 2001 compared to the previous year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi