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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 27, 2002

27 August 2002
Tatar Supreme Court Rejects Claim Of Muslim Women
The Tatar Supreme Court ruled on 25 August that the order of the Russian Interior Ministry that individuals are forbidden from wearing anything on their heads when posing for passport photographs was valid, adding that "[the order] was designed for security purposes and thus did not violate [the rights of citizens]," RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 26 August. In making its ruling, the court rejected the claims of Muslim women who were seeking the right to wear traditional head coverings in their passport photographs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 5 August 2002).

An official from Tatarstan's passport-visa service who attended the court session said that Russian foreign passports and internal passports that had previously been issued to Muslim women with photographs in which their heads were covered were illegal and had to be replaced, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 25 August.

The head of the Muslim Women's Union in Tatarstan, Almira Adiatullina, told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent after the court session that if the Russian Supreme Court also rejects the claims of Muslim women, they plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Scholar Says Patriarch Suggested Separation Of Tatars, Christian Tatars
Valerii Tishkov, head of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that during the Greater Volga Route conference in Riga on 10 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 August 2002), his institute prepared a list of ethnic groups for the October Russian census in which Christian Tatars were listed as a separate ethnic group from Tatars, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 26 August. Tishkov said this decision was made following a proposal by Patriarch Aleksii II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Iran Pledges Intentions To Increase Cooperation
Iran's trade representative to the Russian Federation, Amir Shalbaf, met with Tatar Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov and the heads of the Tatarstan's major industries on 26 August to pledge his personal assistance in establishing ties between Tatar and Iranian companies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 23 August 2002).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkirenergo Elects New Board Of Directors
The shareholders of Bashkortostan's heat and power producer, Bashkirenergo, elected a new board of directors at a meeting on 26 August, "Kommersant" daily reported on 27 August. The meeting was held at the request of Russia's Unified Energy Systems (EES), which owns 21.27 percent of the shares in Bashkirenergo and was hoping to increase its representation on the company's board. Despite this, Bashkirenergo shareholders elected only three EES representatives to the board, which was the same number the company had previously. The other 10 places were distributed among representatives of the Bashkortostan Fuel Company, which owns 37.02 percent of the shares in Bashkirenergo, and Bashneft and Bashneftekhim, which own 7 percent each.

The press service for EES announced after the meeting that it was satisfied with the results, saying that the previous Bashkirenergo board didn't fulfill its obligations with EES. The Russian energy producer reportedly also agreed to make Ural Rakhimov, the son of Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, chairman of the board.

Education Ministry Notes Increase In University Applicants
The Bashkir Education Ministry announced on 26 August that 7,500 high-school graduates have entered universities in the republic this year. The ministry also said that about 36,300 people took university entrance examinations, which is an increase of 3 percent from the previous year.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi