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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 13, 2002

13 August 2002
Shaimiev, Kuchma Discuss Relations
Relations between Tatarstan and Ukraine have taken a big step forward, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev said at a meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in the Crimea on 12 August, reported the same day, citing the Tatar presidential press service. Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktor Chernomyrdin and Tatneft general director Shafagat Takhautdinov also took part in the meeting, which included talks, in part, on the Ukrtatnafta Tatar-Ukrainian joint venture involving Tatar oil companies and Ukraine's Kremenchug oil refinery.

Ukrtatnafta was one of the first Russian-Ukrainian companies established following the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the past 12 months, both sides in the joint venture have fully met their obligations, in accordance with which Tatarstan has delivered 400,000 tons of oil a month to the refinery.

Shaimiev suggested that the Ukrainian side seek investors for the joint venture, also saying that Tatarstan could be one of those investors. "Tatarstan has an agreement with friendly Western companies that are shareholders in Ukrtatnafta. There are sufficient resources for developing relevant projects, for uncovering new technologies, and for investing in this venture," Shaimiev said.

KamAZ Deal With Japan Nearing Completion...
The management of the KamAZ automotive concern and of Japanese companies Kanematsu Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries signed a memorandum in Chally on the completion of the delivery, installation, and startup of equipment being used to modernize engine production at KamAZ, reported on 12 August, citing the KamAZ press service. The first deliveries of equipment to KamAZ began in 1997.

The total value of the project is $437 million, $176 million of which came from Japan with $150 million of that in the form of a loan from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation.

The agency cited KamAZ deputy general director Anton Troyanov as saying that $140 million worth of equipment has been delivered to KamAZ and that equipment valued at $63 million has been installed. To complete the contract, another $16 million worth of equipment will be delivered by the end of this year.

...As Milestone Car To Be Built
KamAZ plans to assemble the 200,000th Oka compact car on 13 August, reported the same day, citing the company's press service. KamAZ's Zavod Mikrolitrazhnykh Avtomobilei (Compact-Car Plant) assembles about two-thirds of all the compact cars built in Russia. Over the past three years, the plant has averaged production of 33,000 cars a year.

Debate Over Passport Photographs Continues
Minnesa Mukhsinova, one of the Muslim women who recently lost a court case in Kazan in which she had sought permission to wear traditional Muslim head coverings in her passport photograph, told Efir television that she will continue to fight for her rights, reported on 12 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Report 5 August 2002). Mukhsinova said she is preparing documents to launch an appeal in the Russian Supreme Court. She added that she plans to continue using her foreign passport in which she is pictured wearing a head covering.

Tatarstan's official newspaper "Respublika Tatarstan" published an article on 9 August backing the demand of Muslim women. The article also called the situation absurd, nothing that in 1998, Muslim women were allowed to cover their heads in passport photographs. The paper said that, "For four years, [the fact that Muslim women wore] headscarves [in their passport photographs] didn't bother anybody, but suddenly this is creating troubles with respect to identification."

"Vremya i dengi" daily quoted Tatar First Deputy Mufti Valiulla Yakupov as saying that Muslim women who refuse to have their pictures taken without their head coverings are absolutely right, since, under Islam, women are allowed to show only their faces and hands. The paper also suggested that Russia's passport-visa services allow women to cover their heads in passport photographs after warning them that this could cause problems if they attempt to travel in Russia or abroad.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Civic Organizations Hold Alternative Tatar Congress In Bashkortostan
Bashkortostan's Tatar civic organizations gathered for a congress in Ufa on 10 August, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 12 August. Despite previous agreement with officials running the building where the meeting was to take place, the congress session had to begin outside and continue there for more than an hour since the doors of the building were closed from the inside. The doors were later opened, which some of the delegates considered a sign of recognition by those inside the building who saw that the congress participants were not discouraged by the sight of closed doors and began the congress outside.

Chairman of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) branch in Bashkortostan Airat Giniatullin said at the event that the "80 delegates elected by the republican government's pocket Tatar Congress branch in Bashkortostan on 3 August [for the World Tatar Congress to be held in Kazan later this month] are illegitimate." The civic organizations' congress elected 40 alternative delegates for the congress in Kazan. TIU Chairman and member of the World Tatar Congress Executive Committee Rashit Yagafarov, visiting Ufa, pledged assistance to the delegates elected that day and called on them to join the forum's roundtables in case they have difficulties with joining the congress's plenary session. He noted with regret that if the 3 August congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan "was not controlled by the republican government and held in democratic terms there would be no need for the alternative 10 August congress."

Tatar Organization Leader Calls For Legalizing Polygamy In Bashkortostan
Referring to the long-running claim that ethnic Tatars in Bashkortostan have been officially registered as ethnic Bashkirs, Milli Mejlis head Marat Ramazanov said at the 10 August congress of Tatar public organizations that instead of Bashkirizing Tatars, President Murtaza Rakhimov should legalize polygamy so that Bashkirs can multiply by themselves, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 12 August.

Bashkir Delegation To Study Belarusian Industrial Potential
A Bashkir delegation including heads of leading local industries and led by Trade-Industrial Chamber head Zinnat Khairullin arrived in Mogilev, Belarus, on 12 August for a three-day visit, AROMI news agency reported on 12 August. The industrial bosses plan to meet with major Belarusian producers in Homel on 14 August and in Minsk on 15 August. According to the Trade-Industrial Chamber's press service on 12 August, Bashkortostan's delegation is mostly interested in cooperation with Minsk Automotive Plant, Minsk Tractor Plant, the Belenergo heat and power company, and the country s oil-processing industries. The scope of Bashkortostan's interests also includes cooperation with Belarusian food, technical-equipment, and consumer-goods producers.

Russian Investigators Of Bashkir Airlines Crash Move To United States
Russian experts investigating the 1 July Bashkir Airlines crash over Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), left for Arizona on 12 August to research the peculiarities of the anticollision system installed on Boeing jets, RIA-Novosti reported on 12 August citing Interstate Aviation Committee spokesman Oleg Yermolov. Yermolov also said that the German commission looking into the same incident is working on schedule and Russia has already provided it with transcriptions of the Tu-154's "black boxes" and the timeline of radio messages between its pilots and the air-traffic controllers.

Children's Health Figures
Health Minister Rais Khasanov told Bashinform on 12 August that 46 percent of Bashkortostan's children between 15 and 17 years of age are chronically ill. Meanwhile blood and respiratory diseases are the most common illnesses suffered by children under 7 years old. The health of schoolchildren reportedly deteriorates during their time in school because of the unhealthy conditions there, the minister added.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi