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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 21, 2002

21 August 2002
Tatar Movement Organizations Want To Expand BTK Agenda
Leaders from the Tatar Public Center (TIU), the Idel-Ural confederation movement, and other groups held a press conference on 20 August to state their discontent with the agenda for the 28-29 August World Tatar Congress (BKT), RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 21 August. The officials insisted that the agenda ought to be altered in order to prevent the congress from becoming a "formal event." TIU chairman Reshit Yagafarov told reporters that resuming Tatar-script reform and ways to preserve Tatar language had to be included in the congress's agenda. Gayal Murtazin, leader of the Idel-Ural movement, suggested that the forum "should issue a special document expressing its attitude towards the establishment of regional confederations within Russia, which could allow the regions to resist the overwhelming pressure of Moscow." Leaders of the aforementioned national organizations stated that on 21 August they would hand their list of suggestions to the World Congress's organizing body.

BTK Leader Outlines The Future Forum's Goals
Indus Tahirov, the chief executive of the World Tatar Congress, told a press briefing on 20 August that the 28-29 August international forum "will be held under a motto...that the Tatars are a single and indivisible nation," which, he said, is explained by the national census to be held in Russia in October, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 August. Tahirov added, "we live in very complicated times. Now that there is a strong offensive against the sovereignty of the ethnic republics and even the federative nature of Russia itself, the congress must deliver the word of the Tatar people on how it thinks Russia should be shaped and what place Tatars will occupy among the other ethnic groups [according to the census results]." He added that: "federal structures and the [Russian] presidential staff are attentively following our preparations for the congress and I think it is good, being an acknowledgement of our importance in Russia and the entire world."

New Technologies To Be Implemented During Congress, Though Old Problems Remain
Deputy Prime Minister Zilya Velieva told the same briefing that the third World Tatar Congress forum's events will be broadcast via the Internet, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 20 August. She emphasized that along with this technological advance, "congress organizers are facing such routine problems as lack a of decent souvenirs to be distributed to the forum delegates and guests." Velieva called on local private businesses to get more actively involved in manufacturing souvenirs.

Official Says Putin Will Visit Kazan This Month
According to an unnamed official in Tatarstan's presidential service who spoke with an RFE/RL's Kazan correspondent on 21 August, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Kazan on 28-29 August and appear at the World Tatar Congress forum or on 30 August for the republic's Sovereignty Declaration Day celebrations. However the official noted that this visit could be cancelled "as, for example, [it was] during the recent Caspian Sea fleet exercises in Astrakhan, where many of the television channels sent their correspondents, but Putin didn't show up despite the rumors." If Putin does decide to visit Kazan, he will do it after his current tour to Siberia and the Far East, the official said. Russian President Boris Yeltsin did not attend the previous World Tatar Congress forum in 1997 though he was officially invited.

Tax Police Report Solid Performance In First Half Of Year
Shamil Davletguildeev, the head of the federal Tax Police branch in Tatarstan, told a press conference on 20 August that his officers investigated 263 cases of tax evasion during the first six months of 2002 and 77 percent of these cases have been sent to the courts, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 21 August. These figures and the fact that Tatarstan's Tax Police forced the repayment of 433.7 million rubles ($13.8 million) in taxes during the first half of 2002 made it the fourth most effective period among tax police branches in Russia's regions and first in the Volga Federal District.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Republic's Children In Poor Health
More than 50 percent of residents of Bashkortostan under the age of 18 have undergone medical examinations in accordance with a nationwide health program, Bashinform reported on 20 August. Doctors revealed that 64.6 percent of those examined are suffering from some sort of health problem.

School Materials A Costly Requirement
The Bashkir State Statistics Committee announced on 20 August that the materials -- uniform, sportswear, stationery, and writing implements -- that each student is required to purchase for upcoming school year have increased in cost by 15 percent since last year, which is in line with the inflation rate over the same period of 14.5 percent, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 August. The required materials will cost between 2,600 and 2,800 rubles ($80-$90) per student, which is almost equal to the average monthly salary in Bashkortostan of 3,000 rubles.

Republic Preparing For Winter
Officials from the Bashkir Housing Ministry met on 20 August to discuss preparations for winter heating in the republic, "Respublika Bashkortostan" reported on 21 August. The meeting revealed that 62 percent of heating networks in the republic have already undergone maintenance work, mostly in urban areas. There have been delays in carrying out maintenance on heating systems in rural areas.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi