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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 23, 2002

23 July 2002
Supreme Mufti Warns Against Switch To Latin Script
At a press conference in Chelyabinsk on 22 July, Russia's supreme mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin, sharply criticized the position of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev on the issue of using the Latin script for the Tatar language, saying the introduction of the Latin script will turn the overwhelming majority of Tatars into foreigners in Russia, since only 2 million Tatars live in Tatarstan while two-thirds of Tatars reside outside the republic, reported the same day. Tadzhuddin claimed that the introduction of the Latin script could destroy the integrity of the Tatar nation and cause other nations in Russia to oppose Tatars. Tadzhuddin added that he is "proud of the fact that Cyril and Methodius, the founders of the Cyrillic script, were Bulgars, and [that Tatars] share historical roots with them."

The republican law on using the Latin script was passed in September 1999 and came into force on 1 September 2001, but the introduction of the Latin script in schools has been postponed.

Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Calls On Tatar Experience
President Shaimiev held a closed-door meeting on 22 July with Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev, reported the same day. Khodyrev told reporters following the meeting that he came "to take Tatar lessons -- not language but experience in managing and reforming the agriculture industry, the housing-construction [industry], [and the] gas-pipeline [industry]." Khodyrev said, "Since I became governor, I have faced numerous problems that have been successfully resolved in Tatarstan, including the organization of public transportation, cleaning up slums, and housing reform, among others."

The two leaders also discussed prospects of economic cooperation in machine building, aircraft construction, oil processing, and the defense industry. Khodyrev also said that he will return to Tatarstan with a large delegation of experts to study the experience of Tatarstan in more detail.

KamAZ, MAZ Heads Discuss Joint Venture...
The general directors of Tatarstan's KamAZ and Belarus's MAZ automotive concerns, Sergei Kogogin and Valentin Gurinovich, respectively, met in Chally on 22 July to discuss the prospects of cooperation within the framework of a five-year program for development of automobile production that is being worked out by the international industry group Belrusavto, reported the same day.

During a recent visit to Tatarstan, the state secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, Pavel Borodin, discussed with President Shaimiev the possibility of a joint venture involving the two companies that would see the joint production of $130 million worth of spare parts, "Izvestiya" reported on 19 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 July 2002).

In June, the two companies signed a contract to equip MAZ trucks with KamAZ-produced engines that meet so-called Euro-1 and Euro-2 environmental standards.

...As RusPromAvto Reacts
A delegation from the Russian automotive concern RusPromAvto is to arrive in Chally on 23 July to negotiate with KamAZ leadership a common policy about technical cooperation and mutual deliveries of spare parts, reported on 22 July. The delegation will include the general director of Upravlyayushchaya Kompaniya Bolshegruznye Avtomobili (Heavy-Cargo Vehicles' Management Company), Pavel Yakovlev; the general director of Torgovyi Dom AvtoURAL (Ural Auto Trade Center), Valerii Selin; the deputy general director of the automotive plant URAL, Aleksandr Vasilev; as well as a number of managers, designers, and leading specialists from the URAL plant.

Last year, RusPromAvto had discussed the idea of starting a joint venture with MAZ and Yaroslavskii Motornyi Zavod (Yaroslavl Motor Plant), which enjoyed the support of the Russian government. In its 19 July article, "Izvestiya" commented that the plans discussed by Borodin while in Kazan are not in line with the proposed RusPromAvto project.

Interior Ministry Troops Depart For Chechnya
A detachment of 44 troops from the Tatar Interior Ministry left the republic for Chechnya's Shelkovskoi Raion on 22 July to replace part of another detachment from Tatarstan that has been serving in Stanitsa Grebenskaya for several months, reported the same day, citing the ministry's information service. The new detachment will be charged with maintaining public order along the Kizlyar-Mozdok federal highway.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Suspected Pipeline Bomber Arrested, Extradited To Russia
Azerbaijani authorities extradited Ramazan Ishkildin, a resident of Bashkortostan, to Russia on 20 July, and reported on 22 July. Ishkildin is suspected of taking part in the 1 December 1999 gas-pipeline explosion near the border of Kirov Oblast and Tatarstan. Authorities arrested him on 26 June while he was trying to cross the border into the southern Russian republic of Daghestan.

Ten others were sentenced for the crime in 2000 to 12 1/2 to 14 years in prison, while an 11th man was placed in the custody of a mental institution. It has also been reported that several of those behind the explosion were trained in military camps led by Chechen filed commanders Shamil Basaev and Khattab.

Relatives Of Crash Victims Begin Compensation Process
A list of relatives of the victims of the 1 July Bashkir Airlines plane crash who have the right to receive monetary compensation from the Bashkir government has been sent to the republic's Emergency Situations Ministry, Bashinform reported on 22 July. The ministry's chief financial officer, Marina Voronina, said that relatives have already begun filling out the necessary documents in order to receive compensation. The government has so far allocated 1 million rubles ($31,700) for compensation, though it is prepared to increase this figure if necessary, the agency reported. Residents and businesses in the republic have also made donations to a compensation fund for the victims' relatives in the amount of 21.8 million rubles ($692,000).

National Bank Gets New Chief
The Russian Central Bank has appointed Rustem Mardanov, 38, as chairman of the National Bank of Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 22 July. Mardanov served as Bashkir first deputy minister of economy and antimonopoly policy from 1998 to 2000, and had been first deputy chairman of the Bashkir bank until his appointment.

Moscow Bashkir Association Begins New Journal
The Moscow association of people from Bashkortostan has begun publishing a new journal called "Strana kuraya," Bashinform reported on 22 July. The recently published second issue of the journal is devoted to the second World Bashkir Congress, and includes a number of resolutions and appeals adopted at the congress.

Book On Bashkortostan's Tatars Published In Kazan
The Kazan Magarif publishing house has published a book titled "Tatars of Bashkortostan" by Bashkir State University professor Radik Sibagatov, Bashinform reported on 22 July. The 200-page volume deals with issues of Tatar language, history, and culture; ethnic and language relations; and the interaction of Tatars with other peoples.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova