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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 9, 2002

9 October 2002
Authorities Prohibit Memorial Day Meeting On Kazan's Liberty Square
Kazan's Vakhitov Raion administration dropped the idea of holding a Memorial Day ceremony to mark the 450th anniversary of Ivan the Terrible's conquest of Kazan on the central Liberty Square, according to Tatar Public Center (TIU) leader Reshit Yegeferov told a press conference on 8 October. TIU leaders said they will nevertheless hold a meeting in a "traditional location" despite local officials' move and recommended holding the gathering near Kamal Theater or Gorky Park. They said the administration's resolution was issued "too late," as advertisements and invitations for the meeting have been distributed. This year marks the 12th time the Memorial Day celebrations are being held in Kazan.

National Movements Launch Preemptive Strike Against Census
TIU leader Yegeferov told reporters at the same press conference that the Forum of Civic and National Organizations stridently protests what it describes as an "anti-people action." The forum unites TIU, the Idel-Ural public movement, the Tatarstan People's Front, the Council of Elders, and the Azatliq Tatar Youth Union. A statement issued by the forum the same day says its members are dissatisfied with "the division of major peoples, such as Tatars, into a number of subethnic groups, as well as the policy of assimilation and Russification of non-Russian peoples and [the merging of ethically based republics into larger administrative units, or "gubernie"] of national republics." The appeal's authors charge that, "The Russian state will use census results in its imperial interests." They claim the number of Tatars announced following the 1989 census was one-half to one-third of the true figure and cite estimates by scholars that the number of ethnic Tatars in Russia is 15-20 million.

State Television Chairman Says Duma Deputy Refused Invitation
The chairman of Tatarstan State Television and Radio Company (GTRK Tatarstan), Irek Murtazin, told the "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily on 8 October that he personally suggested that State Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin take part in "Itogi nedeli," the only live program on the channel, but Shashurin refused. Murtazin suggested that Shashurin refused because he feels hostility toward "Itogi nedeli" creator Leonid Tolchinskii. Tolchinskii once aired a video of the interrogation of Shashurin during an investigation into the theft of 5,000 KamAZ trucks.

On 7 October, the Russian Media Ministry warned GTRK Tatarstan it could deprive it of its license for refusing to let Shashurin take part in a live program on the channel (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 October 2002).

Tatneft Deemed One Of Russia's Most Influential Companies
Six Tatar companies were included in a list of Russia's 100 most economically influential companies, Tatar-inform reported on 8 October. The companies were ranked by AK&M in the following order: Tatneft oil company, 10th; energy company Tatenergo, 26th; KamAZ automotive concern, 28th; petrochemical giant Nizhnekamskneftekhim, 31st; tire company Nizhnekamskshina, 49th; and chemical company Kazanorgzintez, 64th. The methodology included consideration of revenues, taxes paid, number of employees, market share, and a company's role in the relevant sector of the economy.

Meanwhile, rating agency Ekspert RA ranked Tatneft 10th on a list of companies by 2001 profits, RBK reported on 8 October. The company reportedly posted a profit of 19.3 billion rubles ($609,000), behind Gazprom, Yukos, LUKoil, Surgutneftegaz, United Energy Systems, Sibneft, Rosneft, and Nornikel.

Environmentalists Protest Local Action Against Dogs
The chairwoman of Kazan animal rights group Charter of Nature, Karina Bulycheva, said about 50 its activists will boycott the national census, which begins today, to protest authorities' apparent willingness to shoot unleashed dogs that threaten census takers, reported on 8 October. Kazan city officials have offered police vigilance to prevent attacks against the canvassers. Environmentalists said, however, that not a single census taker suffered a dog injury during the four-day preliminary round. They said they will appeal to Tatar prosecutors on the issue and will stage a protest meeting on 12 October near the Kamal Theater.

Christian Tatar Newspaper Issued In Chally
A new publication aimed at Christian Tatars (Kreshens), "Tuganailar," was announced in Chally, Tatar-inform reported on 8 October. The twice-monthly paper was set up by Chally city officials, who also granted a plot of land on which Christian Tatars will be allowed to construct a church. Some 80,000 Christian Tatars live now in Chally.

President's Sons Take Medals At European Auto Races
Airat and Radik Shaimiev, both sons of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, won gold and bronze medals at the European automobile championships, reported on 8 October. Airat Shaimiev won one stage, placed second twice, and took third place three times in the 11-stages of the competition; Radik Shaimiev won two stages, and took second and third one time each, according to the website.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliamentary Speaker Comments On Constitutional Reform
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev speaking to the press in Ufa on 8 October commented on the present constitutional reform nearing its final stage (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 8 October 2002) by emphasizing that the reform "was only about entering changes and additions to the currently implemented constitution and not a new constitution," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported.

However, he added that some of the amendments differed from the former constitutional clauses only slightly, "while others had significant differences." Tolkachev said the new constitution will restrict the representatives of the executive branch in the republic from holding seats in the republican parliament, something that has been practiced for more than a decade since the Republic of Bashkortostan was established in 1990. In addition, Tolkachev said at the press conference that despite previous reports, no high-ranking guests representing the Russian government are expected to join the Republic Day celebrations on 10-11 October.

Bashkir FSB Veteran Gets New Job
Emir Nigametzyanov, former deputy chief of the Federal Security Service (FSB) branch in Bashkortostan, was appointed chief advisor on mass media and public-organization affairs to Russian presidential envoy in Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko, RosBalt reported on 8 October. Nigametzyanov's office will reportedly be located in the Bashkir capital. The FSB major general worked in Bashkortostan until the mid-1990s, but later was transferred to FSB headquarters in Moscow and until his new appointment had served in Sakhalin in the Far East.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi