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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 11, 2002

11 November 2002
President Says Journalists Should Decide Themselves On Covering Antiterrorist Operations...
In a report published on 10 November, Interfax quoted Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev as suggesting that Russia's journalists "themselves have to elaborate the rules of professional behavior in emergency situations" on 9 November. He was commenting on the Russian government's move to tighten restrictions on the press following the 23-26 October hostage crisis in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Media Matters," 8 November 2002). Under the new rules, media cannot distribute information that hinders or reveals too much about counterterrorist operations. The Media Ministry reportedly wants to go further, barring journalists from seeking interviews with terrorists or from allowing them to broadcast live.

Shaimiev added, "Any interference in this issue by authorities will not be fully perceived by the journalist community and, correspondingly, these rules will not be obeyed by everyone, especially given the fact that the majority of Russian media are independent nowadays."

He proposed that the media could unite for adopting "either a code or a charter. This statute of rules will become common for the entire journalists' society and impose responsibility on the media before society." Shaimiev added that together with the single code or charter, editorial staff should adopt internal rules of journalist behavior, "because there are different media in our country -- electronic and printed.... Editors in chief should bear the responsibility, meanwhile providing the maximum of liberty for their journalists."

The Tatar president promoted freedom of speech, "which is the major achievement in the modern history of Russia. One can assess the country's economic development in different ways, social situation of our citizens, but its indisputable that we have got the taste for free speech." He praised the work of Russian Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliev, who worked with the media during the 23-26 October hostage situation in Moscow, and expressed his hope "that no developments in this country, even the most disastrous and tragic, brought limitations to free speech."

...While Tatar Official Reportedly Offers Resignation After Controversial TV Program
Irek Mortazin, chairman of the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company's Tatar branch, has given his resignation to President Shaimiev in connection with his company's coverage of the 23-26 October hostage crisis in Moscow, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily wrote on 11 November (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report" 25 and 30 October 2002).

On a 24 October program hosted by Mortazin, special guests including presidential advisor Rafail Khekimov and Tatar poet and singer Zoelfet Khekim analyzed the hostage crisis, criticizing the federal government's policies in Chechnya. The paper said that "friends" of the company sent the recordings of this program to the Russian presidential staff, Russian Federation Council, State Duma, and All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company Chairman Oleg Dobrodeev.

This put Shaimiev in an awkward situation, according to the paper. To leave Mortazin on his current position would mean that he is identifying himself with the extreme statements made on the program. To dismiss Mortazin would mean compromising his declared adherence to democratic values, such as freedom of speech. "Vechernyaya Kazan" added that Mortazin relieved the president's situation by offering his resignation and that the Tatar presidential staff is currently looking for a new job for him.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Trade Union Leader Comments On Draft Constitution
Bashkir Trade Union Federation Chairman Amirkhan Samirkhanov told Bashinform on 8 November that, according to the draft Bashkir Constitution, the functions of the head of the state are implemented by a collective body, the State Assembly, and its speaker will be given some powers of the republic's highest official. Samirkhanov said the transition from an undivided authority to a collective form of state management does not guarantee coordination in the work of parliament and in the cooperation of the republic's highest authorities.

Samirkhanov said the reform of the state system is the natural result of the current economic and political development of the republic. Transition from a presidential form of government, which is necessary in a period of rapid economic reforms, to a parliamentary system is a sign of a higher stage in the development of democracy in society, he said. Samirkhanov added that changing the structure of the State Assembly and the rejection of a bicameral parliament will provide more efficient and dynamic consideration of draft laws.

Samirkhanov said the republic's trade unions hope for further close cooperation with the republic's highest authority and addressed their amendments to the new draft of the constitution to strengthen constitutional guarantees of labor, rest, housing, and other social rights of the population.

Bashkortostan, Tatarstan Main Recipients From Fund For Developing Regions
Tatarstan and Bashkortostan will receive 85 percent of all the money distributed by the Fund for Developing Regions, according to the draft 2003 federal budget passed by the Russian State Duma in its second reading, the Agency of Political News reported on 10 November. In this way, deputies decided to give an incentive to two economically developed regions, which "swallowed" the biggest quantity of sovereignty, for their consent to reverse the trend, the agency commented. It said the two republics will now transfer more money to the federal budget, and they will receive more money from the Fund for Developing Regions in compensation.

The agency reported that the fund will cutting spending on the space complex and the city of Baikonur Russia rents from Kazakhstan to make up the balance. The third reading of the draft 2003 budget is slated for later in November.

Bashkir Scholars Seek To Bring Bashkir Closer To 'Northwestern Dialect'...
The director of the History, Language, and Literature Institute of Bashkortostan's Academy of Sciences, Ildus Ilishev, said the institute will continue its efforts on composing a true history of the Bashkir people and increasing the use of the Bashkir language, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 8 November. Ilishev delivered a speech at the celebrations devoted to the institute's 70th anniversary, where he said the institute will work on inclusion of "the dialect used by the population of Bashkortostan's northwestern raions" (the way the Tatar language spoken in those raions is officially called in Bashkortostan) into literary Bashkir, which will result in the modernization of the latter. Thus, Tatar schools in the republic's northwestern raions will be supplied with textbooks in the dialect of the Bashkir language, a measure that, Bashkir scholars believe, will help Tatar-speaking Bashkirs in those raions return to their native Bashkir language.

...As Tatar Philologist Says Reform To Speed Up Tatarization Of Bashkirs
Philology professor Sufian Safuanov told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 8 November that the modernization of the Bashkir literary language to make it closer to the "northwestern dialect" will be harmful for the Bashkir people since, he believes, such a modernization of Bashkir would water down the language. Safuanov said the move would ease the Tatarization of "true" Bashkirs rather than Bashkirization of Tatars living in the northwestern regions of the republic.

Safuanov said such an experiment on promoting a new Bashkir dialect for the people of the northwestern raions was attempted a decade ago, and several books were even published in that dialect at the time, but it was rejected by both Bashkirs and Tatars in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova