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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 7, 2002

7 October 2002
Shaimiev Meets With Turkish President
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev met in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Necdet Sezer to negotiate the development of bilateral trade, economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation, reported on 5 October citing the presidential press service. The presidents said that business contacts between the two republics have grown successfully over past years. Sezer gave a dinner in honor of Shaimiev that was attended by Russian Ambassador to Turkey Aleksandr Lebedev and Turkish officials. Shaimiev is spending his vacation in Anatolia.

Government Official Says Republic Promotes Cultural Pluralism
At a meeting with a delegation of experts of the Council of Europe on 4 October, Tatar Deputy Prime Minister Zile Welieva said Kazan is the capital of all Tatars of the world and the Tatar Constitution now includes an article charging the republic with satisfying the spiritual and cultural needs of Tatars living outside it, reported the same day. Welieva added, "Nonetheless, we equally value monuments of Russian, Tatar, and Chavash cultures." She added that the first Jewish music festival in Russia was held in Kazan. Welieva said each citizen of Tatarstan has the right to study at a primary school with instruction in his or her native language. She noted that the level of education in Tatarstan's Chavash and Udmurt schools is higher than anywhere else in Russia. The experts' visit is part of a research project on cultural policy and cultural pluralism being held in 12 countries, including Russia.

Muslim Religious Board Condemns Act Of Vandalism Against Orthodox Church
Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board has condemned the people who took part in an act of vandalism at the St. Tatyana Church being built in Chally, board officials told on 5 October. Board representatives said that "those who destroy religious temples cannot be true Muslims," adding, "those who try to use religion for selfish ends should be condemned." Vandals destroyed a chapel wall at the church construction site on 1 October, causing damage of more than 30,000 rubles ($947).

Chally Interior Ministry branch head Deufit Khemedishin told a press conference that the pogrom's organizer is the head of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in Chally, Rafis Kashapov. Khemedishin said the whole national movement of Chally consists of "Kashapov alone and several old women of dubious behavior. He gives them 10-15 rubles and they do what he orders."

Muslims In Tatarstan, Udmurtia Stage Protests
Demonstrations were held in Tuben Kama, Chally, and Izhevsk on 4 October to protect right of Muslim women to be photographed for passports in headscarves, news agencies reported. RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 4 October that some 150 residents, elderly and young, women and men, gathered in Tuben Kama. Some 70 elderly people and some 30 youths staged a protest in front of the city administration building in Chally, reported. The agency said one woman showed her old Soviet passport, in which she was in a headscarf. She said, "Even in the USSR, there were not similar bans."

Russian Ministry Urges Tatar TV Company To Let Duma Deputy Participate In Live Program
The Russian Media Ministry warned State Radio and Television Company Tatarstan (GTRK Tatarstan) on 4 October that it has no grounds to refuse State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin the opportunity to speak on live television, RosBalt reported citing the ministry's press service. The ministry issued the warning as a response to an appeal by Shashurin in which he cited cases in which the GTRK leadership refused to let him take part in live programs, thus violating Article 9 of the federal law on order of informing about the activity of state power bodies in state media. The ministry noted in its message to GTRK heads that "it is necessary to follow Russian legislation and that similar violations are impermissible." Shashurin is a convicted felon and businessman who usually sharply criticizes Tatarstan's leadership and accuses it of violations.

BTK Elects Managing Bodies
The World Tatars Congress's (BTK) Executive Committee at its organizing meeting elected a committee bureau of 13 members and four deputy committee chairmen -- Razil Weliev, Rimzil Weliev, Damir Iskhaqov, and Kamil Eblezov, "Respublika Tatarstan" daily reported on 5 October. The meeting elected Ilsur Khediullin first deputy committee chairman. Three new members were accepted to the International Union of Civic Groups "the World Tatars Congress," including the Regional National Cultural Autonomy of Moscow Oblast Tatars, the Latvian Tatar-Bashkir Society, and the Tatar Public Center of Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Scholar Predicts Large Increase In Bashkir Population
Bashkir ethnologist Ravil Khuziev said that statistics from the 1989 Soviet census indicating that Bashkirs make up 22 percent of Bashkortostan's population are incorrect and that this figure could increase to 35-40 percent in the upcoming Russian census, "Qyzyl Tang" daily reported on 3 October. Khuziev said the large number of schools teaching Bashkir will "ensure an increase in the Bashkir population." The ethnologist also criticized the residents of the village of Karyauli in the Chakmagush region of the republic for speaking Tatar.

Ministry Bans More Performances Of Tatar Artists
The Bashkir Culture Ministry cancelled a concert in honor of Bashkortostan's Tatar community to be performed in Kazan on 6 October by Tatar singers Idris Karimullin and Fedis Ganiev, both from Bashkortostan, in light of the upcoming national census, an RFE/RL Kazan correspondent reported on 6 October. The ministry had previously cancelled a planned tour of Bashkortostan by the State Ensemble of Folk Singing and Dancing of Tatarstan (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 September 2002). Lilie Minnugalieva, another Tatar singer from Bashkortostan, also told the correspondent that despite having sold out her concerts, the ministry also prevented her from leaving the republic to perform in Tatarstan.

Court Chairman Suggests Preservation Of Presidential System
The chairman of the Bashkir Constitutional Court, Ildus Adigamov, told a press conference on 4 October that the republic's constitutional assembly is faced with the challenge of choosing what form of government to use, either a parliamentary or a presidential republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Adigamov said it was senseless to reject the current model, which "ensures a balance [of power] and maximum efficiency among all branches [of government]." He suggested that Bashkortostan continue work on improving the presidential model, "for example, by detailing [the duties and powers of] State Assembly committees."

Credit Cards Growing In Popularity, But Use Remains Limited
The Bashkir National Bank's press service announced on 5 October that 476,500 credit-card holders were registered in Bashkortostan by the end of June, which represents a 50 increase compared to the same period in 2001. In most cases, however, cards are used simply for receiving bank deposits, as average monthly expenditures per card come to just 184 rubles ($5.80).

Ministry Announces HIV Statistics
The Bashkir Health Ministry reported on 5 October that there are now 3,496 registered cases of HIV in the republic, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Intravenous drug use continues to be the main means of transmitting the virus in the republic.

Bashkir Farmers Helping With Harvest In Chelyabinsk
Many Bashkir farmers have gone to neighboring Chelyabinsk Oblast to assist in that region's grain harvest, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 October. As payment for their efforts, the Bashkir farmers will reportedly receive 15 percent of whatever they collect.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi