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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 10, 2002

10 December 2002
Kazan Industrial Sector Reports Slight Production Growth, Rising Salaries
Boris Pavlov, head of the Kazan city committee on economy and industry, told a press conference on 9 December that the industrial companies in Kazan produced 40.2 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) worth of goods during the first 11 months of 2002, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. According to this figure, Kazan contributed 0.8 percent of Russia's and 20.1 percent of Tatarstan's total industrial output. The main drivers of this growth are reportedly the successful activities of the Kazan Helicopter Plant, Krasnii Vostok brewery, Nefis household chemicals factory, the Kazan Gorbunov aviation plant, and the Kazanorgsintez organic synthesis plant.

An average industrial worker's salary has increased by 35.7 percent this year, reaching 4,153 rubles ($130.5) per month, while energy-system employees receive the highest average wage at 7,004 rubles ($220.2) among Kazan industrial workers. Local timber-industry workers get the lowest average wage at less than $75 per month. The city's industries currently owe 70.8 million rubles ($2.2 million) in back wages, 91 percent of which are owed by the bankrupt Lenin gunpowder plant, which is being restructured, and the Sviyaga electric-devices plant, run by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Official Unemployment To Rise By Some 30 Percent In 2003
Some 9,000 people in Tatarstan will join the ranks of the unemployed in 2003, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 10 December, citing the republic's Ministry of Labor and Employment. The bulk of these will be workers from the Tatneft oil company and schoolteachers. Some 23,000 people are officially registered as unemployed in Tatarstan. Meanwhile, according to the yesterday's report by Efir TV, the KamAZ automaker in Chally plans to fire 2,500 employees by the end of December in addition to the 3,000 already sacked this year. The layoffs will affect low-qualification workers, economists, and accounting officers.

Cold Weather Reveals Poor Condition Of Heating Networks In Yeshel Uzen
Due to forecasts of temperatures dropping to minus 25-29 C, Tatarstan's Emergency Situations Ministry has switched to a state of high alert, Intertat reported on 9 December. The ministry recommended residents to avoid leaving their homes and watch the operation of their heating systems closely.

The same day, some 1,500 residences in the city of Yeshel Uzen in Tatarstan, as well as a school, a kindergarten, and a hospital had their heating cut off due to the freezing of heating lines, while another 670 residences, a school, and a kindergarten there were temporarily left without heating on 6 December.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tajetdin Asks Putin To Prevent Latinization Of Tatar...
In an appeal to President Vladimir Putin, Supreme Mufti of Russia Telget Tajetdin expressed his concern about attempts to introduce the Latin Tatar script in Tatarstan and called on the president not to veto the amendment to the law on the languages of the peoples of Russia passed by the State Duma in November, reported on 9 December citing ITAR-TASS. The amendment makes the Cyrillic-based script mandatory for all state languages in Russia (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 and 27 November 2002). Tajetdin said changing the language's script in one of Russia's entities would irreparably harm the entire Tatar national culture, the community of the country's peoples, and would cause distrust and alienation in their relations.

"Vremya novostei" commented on 10 December that Tajetdin, who often tries to look less "radical" than his opponents among Muslim leaders, this time made his statement to spite Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, which supports Latinization. However, the majority of Tatarstan's Muslim leaders are in opposition to Tajetdin and his "calming" statements can only deepen the existing split among Muslims, the paper said.

...As Do Bashkortostan's Tatars
ITAR-TASS cited on 9 December a collective letter by representatives of Bashkortostan's Tatars to President Putin, in which they said, "changing our writing will result in separation from the entire Tatar people, including those living in Tatarstan, from Russian culture and its invaluable heritage. Apart from this, much money will be spent on new textbooks, developing methods of teaching, translation of books, training teachers, and finally, on changing street signs," the letter read. The agency commented that supporters of preserving the Cyrillic-based Tatar script in Bashkortostan realize very well that if Tatarstan introduces the Latin script, Bashkortostan's Tatars will remain with the Cyrillic alphabet, and not a single person will ever deal with problems of Tatars in that republic.

"Vremya novostei" commented on 10 December that the transition to the Latin Tatar script will likely not be sanctioned by Bashkortostan's authorities and the republic's Tatars are threatened with a national split over the alphabet. At the same time, Bashkortostan's national Tatar movement, which fought unsuccessfully for Tatar's status as a state language in Bashkortostan, now links its hopes for revival with Moscow's support and is taking a pro-Moscow position on the alphabet issue, the daily said.

Bashkir Federal Inspector Appointed Deputy District Envoy...
Chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan Rustem Khemitov was appointed acting deputy presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, RosBalt reported on 9 December citing the inspector's administration. Khemitov will be in charge of interethnic and interconfessional relations and coordination of the activity of territorial bodies of the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Tax Ministry, and the federal Tax Police.

Khemitov, 48, in 1990-93 headed the Commission on Ecology and Rational Use of Natural Resources of the Supreme Council of the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, in 1993-94 was director of the Institute of Problems of Applied Ecology and Use of Natural Resources, in 1994-99 as civil defense and emergency situations minister, and in 1999-2000 headed a department at the federal Emergency Situations Ministry. In September 2000, Khemitov was appointed chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan.

...And Is Replaced By Deputy Premier
Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister Engels Qolmokhemmetov was appointed chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan, RosBalt reported on 9 December citing a source in Bashkortostan's government. The corresponding resolution was signed by presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko. Tax Police Lieutenant General Qolmokhemmetov, 51, served in 1994-2002 as the head of the federal Tax Police in Bashkortostan and was appointed Bashkir deputy prime minister earlier this year.

"Kommersant" commented on 10 December that Kirienko's personnel moves likely involve positioning ahead of the 2003 Bashkir presidential race. The Kremlin is trying to replace Murtaza Rakhimov, one of the most rebellious regional leaders, but still has no appropriate candidate for the post, and there is no united position on the issue within the Kremlin administration, the daily said. At the same time, the appointment of Qolmokhemmetov, who is considered Rakhimov's favorite and his possible successor, as chief federal inspector is seen in the republic as a big concession by the Kremlin to Ufa, the paper said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova