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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 19, 2002

19 September 2002
Duma Postpones Hearings On Anti-Latin Script Draft
The Russian State Duma dropped from its 20 September agenda a discussion of the draft amendment to the language law of the Russian Federation, which would impose the use of Cyrillic-based scripts on Russia's ethnic republics, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. The amendment sailed through its first reading on 5 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6, 7, and 18 June 2002). It would ban the current Latin Tatar script reform law if it passes three readings in State Duma and is signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Duma deputies representing Tatarstan, former Tatar Public Center (TIU) leader Fendes Safiullin and the head of the Russia's Regions faction, Oleg Morozov, had previously proposed to Duma officials that discussion on the amendment be postponed. Cited by RFE/RL's Kazan bureau yesterday, Safiullin said the legislation, "is aimed at depriving...[Russia's] peoples of [the] free choice of an alphabet for their native languages and prohibiting the use of the Latin script."

Nongovernmental Body To Monitor Government's Decrees
Igor Privalov, chairman of the nongovernmental Expert Council on Private Businesses Development and Entrepreneurship Support under the republican Interdepartmental Commission on Economic and Social Reforms, told a press conference on 17 September that all of Tatarstan's governmental decrees from now on will be subjected to obligatory examination by the council, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. Privalov added that some of the decrees previously issued by the government were not analyzed and that they "sometimes...created obstacles on the path of full-fledged business development in the republic."

KamAZ Boasts Success In Improving Its Financial Situation
Ildar Khalikov, the deputy general director of the KamAZ auto concern in charge of economy and finance, said in Chally on 17 September that his company has managed to increase the share of exports in its overall sales this year to 45 percent from a previously planned 40 percent. He also praised the fact that only 7 percent of the current payments for KamAZ heavy trucks and Oka small vehicles are barter, while three months ago the percentage of barter deals for KamAZ was 40 percent of total sales.

Ulyanovsk Oblast Muslims Ask Tatarstan's Muslims For Assistance
Forty imams, or heads of Muslim communities, from Ulyanovsk Oblast visited Kazan on 17 September to meet the head of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Gosman Iskhaqov, and to state their hope that Tatarstan's board will resume its support to Ulyanovsk in the area of Islamic education, reported yesterday. The delegation was led by Mufti Fatikh Aliullov. Guests from Ulyanovsk also said that they need great assistance in Muslim literature and books on Islamic educational methods.

State Council Deputies Join The Call For Higher Wages To State Employees
The republican State Council's commission on budget and finance endorsed on 18 September the recent appeal of the Bryansk Oblast Duma to the Russia State Duma asking for a raise in the wages of state employees. According to Bryansk Oblast legislators, average salaries in Russia's health care and education sector employees are 1,607.2 and 1,886 rubles, respectively ($51.02 and $59.87), which they said is "unacceptably low."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Airlines Lawyer Visits Ufa
A lawyer for Bashkir Airlines, Elmar Giemulla, met in Ufa on 18 September with relatives of the victims of the 1 July midair involving a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet over southern Germany, RIA-Novosti reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002 and 18 September 2002). Giemulla said that compensation for each victim of the crash would be a "six-digit figure" in U.S. dollars, the agency reported.

The lawyer also met with heads of Bashkir Airlines in Ufa in order to discuss losses suffered by the airline as a result of the collision.

An assistant accompanying Giemulla to Ufa, Wilfried Legat, told RIA-Novosti that the losses suffered by the airline include the cost of the destroyed passenger jet, the loss of crewmembers, lost profits resulting directly from the destruction of the plane, and additional expenses undertaken by the airline in flying relatives of the victims to the crash site. Legat said that he plans to meet with officials in Ufa to discuss the losses in more detail.

Speaker Says New Constitution To Maintain 'Basic Principles'
At a meeting of the constitutional commission responsible for working out amendments to the Bashkir Constitution on 18 September, State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev said the commission had completed the initial stage of drafting a new version of the constitution, the Bashkir presidential press service reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 16 September 2002). "Our position remains unchanged: The basic, fundamental provisions of the existing [Bashkir] Constitution are to be maintained and developed," Tolkachev said. The legislative speaker added that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov charged the commission with creating a legally sound document.

Bashkir Scholars Accuse Tatars Of Falsifying History
At a conference called Against the Falsification of Bashkortostan's History in Ufa on 18 September, Bashkir State University history professor Marat Qolsheripov said the forum was organized in response to attempts by certain Tatar historians to misrepresent the history of Bashkortostan and to understate the number of native Bashkirs. Qolsheripov added that, "Our actions should not cause a split in the centuries-old friendship [existing among] the peoples of Bashkortostan and especially in relations between the Bashkir and Tatar peoples in our republic."

Professor Niyaz Mejitov said at the conference that Tatar historians compete with each other in misrepresenting Bashkir history. Mejitov specifically named Mekhmut Ekhmetjanov, Damir Iskhakov, and Rafael Khekimov as those especially active in such historical misrepresentation. Mejitov claimed that Tatar historians promote the assimilation of Bashkirs by Tatars, as well as the idea of creating a "Great Tatarstan" in Russia by forcibly absorbing Bashkirs, Mishers, Nogais, Maris, Chavashi, Udmurts, Mordovians, and other peoples. "So far, the main object of their aspirations has been the Bashkir people," Mejitov said, adding that, "If such large-scale falsifications of Russian history, including the history of Bashkortostan, are not stopped, Tatar chauvinists and nationalists won't be able to leave any room even for Russians."

The conference passed a resolution to inform Russian President Vladimir Putin about a campaign it claims certain Tatar mass-media outlets have launched against Bashkortostan and also to organize joint academic forums with Tatar historians. Delegates also called on the multiethnic residents of Bashkortostan to take part in the October census.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova