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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 31, 2002

31 October 2002
Tatar Representative Meets With Turkish Ambassador...
In honor of Turkish Republic Day, Tatarstan's plenipotentiary representative to the Russian Federation, Nazyf Mirikhanov, passed on congratulations on behalf of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and the Tatar people to the new Turkish ambassador to Russia, Kurtulush Tashkent, Tatar-inform reported on 30 October. Mirikhanov was in attendance at a reception marking the Turkish holiday at the Turkish Embassy in Moscow.

On the same day, the Turkish consul-general in Kazan, Ismail Sefa Yujeer, held a reception to mark the 79th anniversary of the Turkish Republic, which was attended by the head of the Tatar presidential administration, Egzem Gobeidullin; First Deputy Prime Minister Rawil Moratov; and other senior officials.

...And Meets With Afghan Official
Mirikhanov met on 30 October with an official from the Afghan Embassy in Moscow, Gulam Sahi Gairat, to discuss ways to increase cooperation in the spheres of land and air transportation, power engineering, construction, and the training of various specialists, reported the same day. Gairat suggested that Tatarstan cooperate with the Afghan provinces of Gerat and Balh, and he said that Afghan Transport Minister Mohammed Ali Jovid will visit Tatarstan to discuss the reopening of KamAZ service centers in Afghanistan.

Civic Organization Calls For An End To War In Chechnya
The Committee for the Free Self-Determination of Chechnya held a meeting on 30 October to discuss ways of achieving a peaceful solution to the Chechen conflict, reported the same day. The committee, which unites the spiritual association Lad, the Tatar People's Council, the Tatar Committee for Working-Class Supervision, the Council of Elders, the Idel-Ural movement, and the Tatar Public Center, called on Moscow to begin peace talks with Chechen rebels and to stop the war in the North Caucasus.

Memorial Society Remembers Victims Of Political Repression
The Kazan Memorial Society held a service on 30 October at the Kazan Arkhangel Cemetery to commemorate the victims of political repression, reported the same day. The ceremony was held near a monument on which the names of 2,760 victims of political repression are listed. The monument was erected on 30 October 1998. Muslim and Russian Orthodox clergy read prayers at the service.

Lawyer Claims Police Carried Out Illegal Search
Police searched on 29 October the apartments of three women -- Nionella Fazlyeva, Elfie Zinnurova, and Marzyia Shakirova -- accused of taking part in an attack on St. Tatyana's Russian Orthodox Church in Chally on 2 October (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 3 and 30 October 2002), RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 30 October. In accordance with a 30 October court decision, Shakirova, 65, and Zinnurova, 61, are to remain in detention until a verdict is issued in their case, while Fazlyeva was released until her trial.

A lawyer representing the women, Zekerie Ekhmetshin, said the police did not have warrants to search the women's homes and that no orders had been issued for their arrest.

Fazlyeva told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 30 October that construction of the church near Victory Park is in violation of Chally's 1986 zoning regulations. She added that she has nothing against Russian Orthodoxy or the construction of an Orthodox church in any other part of the city. "We are not looking to incite interethnic or interfaith tension," she said.

On 28 October, police also searched the headquarters of the Tatar Public Center in Chally, as well as the apartments of its leader Rafis Kashapov and his twin brother Nefis, the correspondent said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Chechen Community Warned To Stay Out Of Public Places
Chechens have been advised to avoid public places for their personal safety, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 30 October, citing a leader of the Chechen community in Bashkortostan, Momali Ismailov. The warning comes in the wake of a hostage-taking incident in Moscow involving Chechen rebels (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 25, 26, 29, and 30 October 2002). Officially, there are 891 Chechens registered in Bashkortostan, with 459 of them arriving within the last decade.

In an interview with RFE/RL the same day, Ismailov condemned the use of force in trying to resolve the Chechen conflict, and he called for negotiations between the Aslan Maskhadov-led Chechen government and the Russian authorities.

Bashkir Journalist Compares Hostage Taking With 'Kursk' Tragedy
In an interview with an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 30 October, the Bashkir journalist and poet Gyilman Ishkinin criticized Russian state media for declaring that the "117 victims" of the recent hostage taking was a small figure in comparison with the possibility of more than 700 victims. He said that the media has forgotten that there were just as many victims in the sinking of the "Kursk" nuclear submarine in August 2000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 August 2002), Ishkinin said that if rescue workers had been allowed to help the crew of the "Kursk," then the losses would have been fewer, and if the Russian authorities had negotiated with the hostage takers in this case, then fewer hostages would have also been lost.

Scholar Doubts Reliability Of Bashkir Census Results...
The Bashkortostan-based Tatar historian and ethnologist Fail Safin told an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 30 October that, "The fact that many of the census questionnaires were completed with pencils or completed not in the presence of the questioned individual allows one to make the assumption that not all of the republic's residents had an opportunity to state their nationality during the census." Safin also claimed that prior to the census, special groups of Bashkir ethnologists toured the regions of the republic promoting the idea that the republic's Tatar population actually had Bashkir origins.

...And Says Change To Parliamentary System Unlikely To Face Opposition
Safin also commented on the plan to change Bashkortostan to a parliamentary form of government from its current presidential system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 October 2002), saying that the change will not alter the republic's ethnicity policies. He also said he didn't expect the plan to face any opposition in the republic since the leadership has never allowed any objections to its policies

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi