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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 6, 2002

6 November 2002
Tatarstan Opens Trade Mission In Iraq
Tatarstan established a trade and economic office in Iraq and appointed Timur Kheiretdinov as its head, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 5 November, citing AK&M. The mission is charged with officially promoting trade and economic cooperation; defending the trade and economic interests of the republic and juridical officials, and its citizens living in Iraq; developing relations between organizations, banks, and other commercial institutions; and looking for potential partners and investors.

Tatar National Cultural Organizations In Moscow Unite
The leaders of some 30 of Moscow's Tatar-Bashkir national cultural societies and organizations met in Tatarstan's plenipotentiary representation to establish a permanent working council, reported on 5 November. Tatarstan's representative to Moscow, Nazyif Mirikhanov, who delivered a report at the meeting, said the main aims of national cultural organizations include the preservation of the Tatar people, counteracting the policy and trends associated with assimilation and globalization, defending federalist ideas, and preserving legal rights in education. Mirikhanov criticized societal leaders and Tatar businessmen for their inactivity in promoting the cultural needs of Tatars. He said a new building in a Moscow school with a Tatar cultural component has not yet been constructed despite a decision to do so two years ago with the consent of Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Mirikhanov also said the Regional Tatar National Cultural Autonomy of Moscow still has not taken possession of the Asadullaev House, though the decision on returning it to the Tatar community in Moscow was adopted three years ago. The chairman of the World Tatar Congress's Executive Committee, Rinat Zakirov, said that Tatarstan helps Tatars living outside the republic in opening Tatar schools, training teachers, and publishing books and textbooks in the Tatar language. He called for taking additional measures to spread information about Tatarstan and Tatars in the print and electronic media and to develop radio and television broadcasting in Tatar.

Russian Ethnic Public Groups Complain Of Discrimination
The leaders of the Society of the Russian Culture in Kazan, the St. Gurii Community, the Concord movement, and the Social-Democratic Party in Tatarstan appealed on 5 November to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to inform him about the recent growth of national and religious intolerance in the republic, Tatar-inform reported the same day. The authors of the appeal pointed out that the misbalance that exists in cultural policy and the educational sector contradicts the role of the Russian people in contemporary society and in the history of the region. The leaders mentioned the delay in handing over a bell tower and other property to the Bogoyavlenskii Cathedral as an example of discrimination toward Orthodox believers. The appeal claimed that the State Television and Radio Company Tatarstan shows "undisguised anti-Russian propaganda" and said the 24 October program devoted to the October Moscow hostage crisis is one instance of such propaganda (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 October 2002). The authors said they were outraged by the fact that the program showed a picture on which a public group held a placard demanding an end to the Chechen war.

Average Income, Living Wage Growing
The average monthly income in Tatarstan grew by 23.5 percent to 3,145 rubles ($99) in the first 10 months of the year, reported on 5 November citing the Cabinet of Minister's Center for Economic and Social Research. The living wage increased in the same period by 16.7 percent to 3,542 rubles ($111.5), while prices grew by 12.6 percent.

Tatar Helicopters Exposed In Brazil
The Kazan Helicopter Plant presented its Mi-17 and Ansat helicopters at the Helitech-2002 international exhibit that opened on 5 November in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reported the same day. A total of 400 companies representing 22 countries took part in the event.

Kazan Health Care Official Fired
The head of the Kazan Health Care Directorate, Wasil Zyatdinov, was dismissed from his post for "repeated nonimplementation of his duties without valid reasons," "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 5 November. The daily said audits of the directorate's activity by the Tatar Interior Ministry revealed numerous financial violations. The paper also said that complaints of the bad state of health care in Kazan and reports of embezzling, corruption, and violations during tenders for the distribution of state orders by the directorate's leadership are responsible for most the complaints received.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Parliament Speaker Says New Constitution Still Declares Bashkortostan's Sovereignty...
Bashkir State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev was quoted by the "Izvestiya" daily on 5 November as saying that the removal of the term sovereignty from the revised Bashkir Constitution put on public discussion on 29 October (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 October 2002) "did not mean key changes for the republic's status, because the term 'state' used in the new draft implies all the necessary characteristics and cannot be imagined without sovereignty."

The first article of the Bashkir constitutional draft declares Bashkortostan "a democratic state within the Russian Federation." Despite the future radical changes, such as introduction of a parliamentary republic and making the prime minister's post elected, Tolkachev also claimed that the document "cannot be referred to as a new constitution, because there were no changes made to the economic system and the balance of political forces. That's why we call it a law on entering the changes and additions to the constitution."

...As Deputy Speaker Convinced Of Rakhimov's Strong Authority
State Assembly Deputy Chairman Salavat Kusimov told "Izvestiya" in the same article that if President Murtaza Rakhimov or any other candidate of his is nominated to the post, "his authority in the republic will give him unconditional victory." The paper also remembered that the last version of the Bashkir Constitution was adopted in November 2000, but was soon subjected to criticism for possessing many contradictions with the Russian Constitution.

Bashkir Airlines, Victims' Families Demand Compensation From Swiss Government...
Giemulla and Associates, the Swiss lawyers representing Bashkir Airlines, appealed to the Financial Department of the Swiss Confederation on 5 November demanding the repayment for the loss of the airlines' Tu-154 and compensations to the families of 61 people aboard the Russian plane in connection with the 1 July air crash over southwest Germany (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002), Interfax-Eurasia reported the same day. The lawyers explained that the Swiss government was chosen to bear the responsibility because it owned the Skyguide air-traffic-control system which failed to direct the two craft properly.

Switzerland has three months to consider the claim and if it doesn't respond, Giemulla and Associates plan to appeal to the Swiss Resource Commission and later to court. In late September 2002, the lawyers failed to convince Skyguide to pay $1 million for each member of the Tu-154 crew and $29 million for the crashed airplane to Bashkir Airlines. Skyguide insisted that Germany had to pay, because the collision took place over its territory.

...As Charitable Fund Reports First Achievements
The "Gifted Children" fund established in Bashkortostan soon after the crash in honor of the 51 children killed in the collision has so far managed to raise more than 200,000 rubles ($6,289), RosBalt reported on 5 November. Most of the donations, which are targeted for supporting the socially needy children of the republic, were made by companies and organizations. Nearly all of the children lost in the accident were from the families of high-ranking Bashkir officials.

Bashkir NGOs To Benefit From Swiss Grants
Bashkortostan's Refugees Organization, the Female Initiative organization, and the Bashkir Republic's Ecological Union signed grant agreements with the Swiss Program for Nongovernmental and Human Rights Organizations in Russia on 6 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported. According to the Swiss officials in charge for the program, similar agreements already had been signed with NGOs in other regions in Russia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi