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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 2, 2002

2 September 2002
Tatar Leader Reacts To Putin's Comment Concerning Minority Status
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a meeting about the condition of Tatars in Bashkortostan as part of the Third World Tatar Congress in Kazan on 30 August, reported the same day. During the meeting, the director of the Belebei secondary school, Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov, claimed that Tatars in Bashkortostan are prevented from studying their native language and are being told to register as Bashkirs in the October Russian census. Putin responded to Khoseinov's comments by asking rhetorically whether it was easy to be a Russian in Tatarstan or a Chechen in Moscow.

The new chairman of the nationwide Tatar National Cultural Autonomy, Rimzil Veliev, said that Putin's comments were a false analogy, the local branch of Russian state television, GTRK Tatarstan, reported on 1 September. Veliev said that Russians are not prevented from studying their native language or developing their culture in Tatarstan, "while the same cannot be said for Tatars in Bashkortostan." Veliev added that Russian is seen and heard more on the streets of Bashkortostan than Tatar.

Putin Pledges Assistance To Russian Citizens Living Abroad...
During the same 30 August meeting, President Putin said that he had ordered "all state organs, including the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, to pay special attention to, and to provide informational, organizational, legal, and administrative assistance to, [citizens of the Russian Federation living abroad]." He added that this assistance would be provided regardless of the ethnicity of those Russian citizens.

...Criticizes List Of Nationalities For Russian Census...
Putin also commented on the list of nationalities that had been drawn up by the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences for use during the October census, saying that "if we use the list in its current form, we would miscalculate not only Tatars, but we would also lose half of Russians, since they wouldn't know how to register themselves" (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 August 2002).

...Comments On Status Of Power-Sharing Treaty
Commenting on the comments of some congress delegates who expressed concerns about the grim prospects for the power-sharing treaty between Kazan and Moscow, Putin said that "treaty-based relations are stipulated in the Russian Constitution and they can only be abolished by making amendments to the constitution." Nevertheless, he admitted that some of the treaty's provisions will be revised by special commissions comprised of members of the Tatar and Russian governments.

The power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan is the major document regulating relations between the two and was included in the new Tatar Constitution adopted earlier this year.

Head Of Egerce Administration Killed
Refis Seitov, head of the local administration of Tatarstan's Egerce region, was killed near his home on the night of 30 August while returning home from Republic Day celebrations in Kazan, an Interior Ministry official told an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent the next day. Seitov had not mentioned any threats prior to the murder.

Though there was a wave of killings of Tatarstan-based businessmen in the early 1990s, this is the first time a state official of this rank has been murdered in the republic.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Tatars Paint 'Critical' Picture For Putin
With Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov in attendance at the World Tatar Congress on 30 August, Bashkortostan's Tatar-community representatives delivered a report titled "The Critical State Of Tatars In Bashkortostan," reported. Belebei secondary-school Director Nurmokhemmet Khoseinov said Tatars are prevented from studying their native language. Khoseinov added that there is pressure on Tatars to register as "Bashkirs" in the upcoming census. Putin responded to the assertion that it is difficult to be a Tatar in Bashkortostan by asking whether it is easy to be an ethnic Russian in Tatarstan or a Chechen in Moscow, according to the website. "Our state is multiethnic, and if any representative of even the smallest ethnic group does not feel at home here, we will be unable to preserve a multiethnic state," Putin reportedly said. Putin called the "prohibition on teaching native languages in a multiethnic state...complete nonsense."

Bashkir Satellite Broadcaster Increases TV Programming
Bashkirskoe Sputnikovoe Televidenie plans to increase its broadcasting to 18 hours a day in the fall, from the current 10 hours, RosBalt reported on 30 August. The agency cited General Director Rostem Samarbaev as saying the satellite-television station will air a broad range of programming, including youth programs, popular science, and feature and documentary films -- some from other regional and international production companies. The nearly one-year-old company received a license to broadcast in 200 residential areas in Bashkortostan, and its programs are received as well in Tatarstan and the Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, and Perm oblasts.

Bashkir, Belarusian Companies Strengthen Trade Ties
Some 150 Bashkir and Belarusian companies are preparing to sign cooperation agreements, RosBalt reported on 30 August in conjunction with a visit to Belarus by a Bashkir trade delegation. The agency cited officials from Bashkortostan's Trade and Industry Chamber as saying the visit to Belarus was "fruitful for both sides." Deals ranged from bitumen and oil to pumps and a joint venture to manufacture combines. A cooperation agreement was also signed between the Mogilev branch of the Belarusian Trade and Industry Chamber and Bashkortostan's Trade and Industry Chamber.

Ufa To Aid Families Of Chavashia Accident Victims
Bashkortostan's government on 29 August allocated 100,000 rubles ($3,168) in subsidies for victims of the 18 August bus accident in Chavashia that killed 24 passengers, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 August. President Rakhimov expressed his condolences to victims' relatives on behalf of the republican population.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova