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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 10, 2002

10 October 2002
Tatar Speaker Heads To Moscow For Talks On Constitution, Power Sharing
Tatar State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin leaves for Moscow on 10 October to hold consultations with Russian Constitutional Court Chairman Marat Baglai concerning a number of provisions in the amended Tatar Constitution, reported (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 October 2002). Mukhametshin also plans to take part in hearings at the Russian State Duma on reforming local self-government. Mukhametshin told that he plans to speak at the hearing as the chairman of the Tatar legislature and as the head of the Council of Legislators of Russia's commission on power sharing.

Russian Minister Discusses Nationalities Policy In Light Of Tatar Congress
The Russian government's consultative council on affairs of national cultural autonomies discussed on 8 October the results of a meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin held with delegates at the third World Tatar Congress in Kazan on 30 August (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 September 2002), reported on 9 October. The Russian minister in charge of nationalities policy, Vladimir Zorin, said the meeting was of great importance for all peoples of Russia, adding that the important ideas that were discussed at the meeting would be taken into account when working to improve the country's nationalities policy. Zorin supported the council's proposal to publish a report on Putin's meeting with Tatar delegates. The council also formulated an appeal to the Assembly of Peoples of Russia to make 2004 the "Year of Peoples' Friendship and of Russian Unity."

Patriarch Concerned About Act Of Vandalism In Chally
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksii II, appealed to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev to prosecute those guilty of destroying the foundation of the chapel of the Orthodox St. Tatyana's Church in Chally (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3, 4 and 7 October 2002), and other news agencies reported on 9 October. Aleksii said he was "deeply concerned" to learn of the act of vandalism against the chapel. The patriarch added that this was not the first such act in the city, adding that it was committed by "nationalist circles, behind which, according to numerous pieces of evidence, stands the radical Tatar Public Center, which is known for its anti-Russian and anti-Orthodox statements and acts."

Scholar Says Kreshens, Tatars To Be Counted Separately
A department head at the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksandr Korostelev has said that those people who identify themselves as Kreshens, or Christian Tatars, in the ongoing Russian census, will be counted separately from Tatars, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 9 October. Korostelev said the census procedure is imperfect since it does not allow citizens to choose a "double identity," i.e., to identify themselves as part of two different ethnic groups. Korostelev said that some Kreshens consider themselves to be a part of a separate ethnic group from other Tatars, whereas other Kreshens believe they are a group within the Tatar nation. The academician said that Kreshens have been counted as an "ethno-religious" group within the Tatar nation for more than 70 years, adding that Kreshen groups and individuals concerned about assimilation approved the idea of being separated from other Tatars in the current census.

Poor Grammar Causes Brewery To Cancel Ad
The Krasnyi Vostok brewery informed the Tatar branch of the Russian Antimonopoly Ministry that it has stopped using a Russian-language advertisement that contained grammatical errors, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 9 October. The ad in question, which appeared on television throughout the country, contained the slogan "Drink the Russian way," in which there were several errors in grammar and spelling. A number of residents of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg complained to the ministry about the errors. The ministry planned to hold a hearing on 8 October to discuss possible violations by the company of the law on advertising, but Krasnyi Vostok pulled the ad before the hearing was to take place.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir Scholar Discusses Language, Census Issues
In an article in "Vechernyaya Ufa" on 9 October, the director of the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of the Ufa branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ildus Ilishev, condemned a recent article in "Respublika Tatarstan" daily that suggested that for the purpose of the ongoing national census, a person's nationality be defined according to his or her native language. Ilishev opposed this idea, saying that such an approach would "automatically convert the 300,000 Tatar-speaking Bashkirs [in Bashkortostan] into Tatars."

Ilishev added that Bashkir linguists are currently working on a common Bashkir literary language in order to eliminate various dialects of Bashkir, which, he said, would solve the problem of contradictions between the northwestern and eastern dialects of the language. Ilishev also criticized the 1989 Soviet census, according to which Tatars form the majority of the population in northwest Bashkortostan.

Tatar Activist Alleges Foul Play Among Bashkirs In Census
A member of the Tatar Public Center in Bashkortostan, Asaf Gataullin, alleged on 9 October that he had information indicating that the head of the administration of the Kushnaren region held a meeting of the heads of village councils that same day and instructed them about what Bashkir population figures to report in the census, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Gataullin also claimed that similar meetings were held in other regions of the republic.

Press Minister Urges Media Support Outside Republic
Bashkir Press Minister Zoefer Timerbolatov told a government meeting on 9 October that Bashkortostan should create a program to support Bashkir-language media in Bashkir-populated areas of Russia, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi