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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 13, 2002

13 September 2002
Mufti Supports Muslim Women In Passport Debate
Tatar Mufti Gosman Iskhaqov said on 12 September that he supports Muslim women who want to wear traditional Muslim headscarves in their Russian passport photographs, reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 September 2002). Speaking to a group of foreign journalists in Kazan, Iskhaqov said that even if Muslim women are, in the end, forced not to wear their head coverings, at least their consciences will be clear, since they fought for their rights.

Republican Muslims To Pray For 11 September Victims
At the same meeting on 12 September, Iskhaqov said that Tatarstan's Muslims will pray on 13 September for victims of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States, reported on 12 September. Iskhaqov said that the attacks have caused a lot of grief and suffering for all peoples, including Muslims. "One should not forget that there were also Muslims among the dead [in the attacks].... Terrorists do not belong to any religious faith, so I don't think Islam played a role in the attacks," Iskhaqov said.

Meanwhile, memorial services for the victims of the attacks were held in all of Kazan's Russian Orthodox churches on 11 September.

Half Of Republican Residents Receive New Internal Passports
The head of the Tatar passport-visa service, Galina Fekhretdinova, told a briefing on 12 September that 1.5 million residents of Tatarstan, or 50 percent of all residents, have received new Russian internal passports. In accordance with regulations, residents of Tatarstan are to exchange their current passports for new ones by 1 October 2003.

Fekhretdinova also commented on trials in which Muslim women have demanded permission to have their passport photographs taken while wearing Muslim headscarves, saying that these women should challenge the legislation denying them this permission, not the passport-visa service, which has to follow the applicable legislation (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 27 August 2002). She added that women can still have photographs taken while wearing headscarves for their foreign passports, though to do so, they should include in the application that they are planning to travel to the hajj.

Ministry In Financial Trouble Because Of Deportations
The head of the passport-visa service also said that 142 non-Russian citizens were deported from Tatarstan during the first eight months of 2002 for violations of passport regulations, reported on 12 September. Fekhretdinova added that half the deportees were Georgian nationals. She said that the republic's Interior Ministry is now facing financial difficulties because of the costs involved in the deportations. As a result, she said, the ministry has asked the federal Interior Ministry's Passport Administration to set up a center in Moscow to process non-Russian citizens who violate passport regulations.

Human Rights Group Joins Antitorture Organization...
Tatarstan's Human Rights Committee has joined SOS Torture, an international network of more than 240 antitorture, nongovernmental organizations that is a part of the World Organization Against Torture, Tatar-inform reported on 12 September. As part of the worldwide torture watchdog, the Tatar committee will be responsible for reporting on violations in human rights in the republic.

...Reports On State Of Women's Rights In Tatarstan
In a report on the state of human rights in Tatarstan compiled with the assistance of the U.S.-based Global Women's Fund, the Human Rights Committee claimed that women, who make up 60 percent of Tatarstan's population, face rights violations in almost all spheres of life, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 12 September. In particular, the report claimed that 6-10 percent of Tatarstan's women are subjected to sexual violence perpetrated by family members, though the report also said that complete statistics in this area are not available since most cases are not reported. The report added that about 12,000 women die every year in Russia as a result of sexual violence.

The committee compiled the report using media publications in the republic, as well as claims made by women to the Human Rights Committee, the Tatar Public Fund for the Support of the Women's Movement, and other human rights organizations.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Officials Discuss Amendments To Power-Sharing Treaty
Bashkir parliamentary speaker Konstantin Tolkachev and Bashkir Constitutional Court Chairman Ildus Adigamov met with the deputy head of Russian presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, in Moscow on 12 September to discuss amendments to the power-sharing treaty between Bashkortostan and the Russian Federation, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. During the three-hour meeting, the two sides reportedly "found mutually acceptable ways of resolving the [relevant] issues [concerning the treaty]."

Report Reveals Deficiencies Among Bashkir Entrepreneurs
According to a report released by the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Trade on 12 September, the majority of top managers of small businesses in the republic frequently confuse the legal status of their enterprises and do not have proper training to maintain accounting standards, Bashinform reported the same day. The ministry said that it plans to hold a number of seminars to teach managers of private businesses their administrative and legal responsibilities.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi