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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 4, 2002

4 October 2002
Interior Ministry Planning To Buy Police Equipment From U.S.
The Tatar Interior Ministry signed a protocol of intentions with the U.S. company Crown International under which Crown will deliver a variety of law-enforcement equipment to the republic, including two helicopters, several patrol cars, motorboats, and a video-surveillance system, reported on 3 October, citing the ministry. The value of the proposed contract was not made available.

TIU Denies Involvement In Attack On Orthodox Church
The Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally issued on 3 October a statement denying reports that its members were involved in a 1 October attack on the chapel of the St. Tatyana church that is being built in the city's Victory Park, reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 October 2002). Police claimed after the incident that they had detained elderly members of the TIU on suspicion that they had taken part in the attack.

The head of the TIU in Chally, Rafis Kashapov, said his organization was not involved in the incident, adding that those who carried out the attack were war and labor veterans of various ethnicities.

Nonetheless, TIU leaders said in their statement that they oppose the construction of the Russian Orthodox church in the park. "Members of all peoples of the Soviet Union and of all religions, not only Orthodox believers, contributed to the victory over fascism in WWII. Our position is a matter of principle, that either churches of all religions [be built in the park] or no churches be built in Victory Park. We are not against the construction of an Orthodox church, but [we are against the construction of one] in Victory Park," the statement said.

Muslim Women Plan To Hold Demonstrations On Passport Issue
A number of Muslim women plan to hold demonstrations on 4 October in Chally, Bogelme, Tuben Kama, Elmet, and Izhevsk to protest the regulation handed down by the Russian Interior Ministry's passport-and-visa service forbidding them from wearing traditional headscarves in their passport photographs, reported on 2 October. Golnur Nurieva, one of three Tuben Kama women who earlier filed a suit against the Tatar Interior Ministry's passport-and-visa service on this issue (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 5 August 2002), told the agency that those initiating the demonstrations have already received the necessary permission from the administrations of the relevant cities. Nurieva added that she has appealed the decision in her earlier suit to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

Government To Audit Public Tenders
The Tatar Cabinet of Ministers has decided to audit the results of all state-run tenders held in the republic in 2002, reported on 3 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Writer Discusses Letter To Tatar President...
The editor in chief of "Istoki" weekly and the head of the section of Russian writers in the Bashkir Writers Union, Aleksandr Filippov, spoke to an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 4 October about a letter that he and other members of Bashkortostan's intellectual and artistic elite recently sent to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev regarding Tatar-Bashkir relations (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 1 October 2002). Filippov said that the 1989 census in the Soviet Union indicated that Tatars were the second-largest ethnic group in Bashkortostan because many of the Bashkirs living in the northwest of the republic speak a dialect that is very close to Tatar, and therefore, they registered as Tatars and not Bashkirs. According to that census, the northwest portion of Bashkortostan, which was part of the Kazan governorate until the 1920s, is the most heavily Tatar-populated part of the republic.

Filippov also said that following the establishment of autonomous Bashkir and Tatar republics by the Bolshevik government, there were 200,000 Bashkirs living in the eastern part of Tatarstan, "though now there are only several hundred of them." Filippov also rejected what he called "extremist statements" by Tatar-rights activists in Bashkortostan, adding that "Bashkortostan is the only republic where the ethnic policies are correctly implemented...[and] we cannot talk about Tatar-rights violations in Bashkortostan."

...As Actress Says She Didn't Even Read The Letter
Well-known Tatar actress Feride Kodasheva, whose name appeared on the letter to Shaimiev, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 2 October that she signed the letter without reading it and didn't really understand what "it was really about." An RFE/RL correspondent reported the same day that the signatures under the letter were delivered on a separate page from the body of the letter, perhaps an indication that not all the undersigned knew what they were signing.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi