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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 17, 2002

17 December 2002
Russian Culture Minister Oversees Preparations For Kazan Millennium
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and visiting Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi on 16 December in Kazan discussed preparations for the celebration of the Kazan millennium in 2005 and the development of Turkic culture in Tatarstan and Russia, reported the same day. Shvydkoi said Kazan's millennium is "undoubtedly a holiday of a Russia-wide and global importance." He praised the great progress Kazan's cultural institutions have made in the four years since his last visit to the republic. Shvydkoi said he was impressed by Tatarstan's National Museum, the Youth Theater that was restored after a fire, and the Musa Jelil Opera and Ballet Theater and the Kachalov Russian Drama Theater, which under reconstruction. The minister said the newly constructed Pyramid entertainment complex is "a breakthrough to a principally new show business," adding he saw very few similar establishments in the world.

Speaking about the reconstruction of the Sviyazhsk and Bolgar historical ensembles, Shvydkoi said, "we will protect those holy places irrespective of the nation they belong to," and called for uniting the efforts of the Russian and Tatar Culture ministries "to implement preservation programs of those unique memorials." He admitted that the federal budget has allocated much less for programs of preservation and restoration of cultural monuments than republican and local budgets and said federal financing should be increased in the next two years.

Tatarstan, Poland's Lodz Province To Boost Ties
During a visit to Poland on 11-14 December, Tatar Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov signed with Lodz province Governor Krzysztof Makovski a two-year cooperation protocol, reported on 16 December citing the ministry's press service. The document provides for the establishment of informational and promotional centers for Lodz province in Tatarstan and for Tatarstan in that province and the arrangement of annual Tatar-Polish economic forums, exhibits, and fairs in the two regions.

IBRD Studies Possibility Of Providing Loan For Kazan
A delegation of experts from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is on a visit to Kazan to observe and evaluate work of transport, health care, social defense, and other organizations, reported on 16 December citing the Kazan administration's Foreign Economic Relations Committee Chairman Andrei Khashov. The delegation, headed by IBRD energy-sector head Lee Travers, is charged with collecting data for a decision on whether to provide a loan for Tatarstan's capital.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Ufa-Based Muslim Leader Approves Teaching Orthodox Culture In Schools
Central Muslim Religious Board in Russia Chairman Telget Tajetdin said on 16 December that he supported the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church promoting the introduction of religious-culture lessons in schools, Interfax reported the same day. Previously, the Russian Education Ministry issued an order on introducing "Orthodox culture" as a subject in all secondary schools, something that contradicts the officially declared separation of state and church (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 and 20 November, 3 December 2002).

Speaking at the meeting of World Russian People's Assembly in Moscow, Tajetdin said: "In the recent past, some 20,000 young men from Muslim families have received religious education abroad. They returned home militants, disseminating religious intolerance." Tajetdin also expressed his hope that "Russia will be cleared from terrorism.... Muslims of Russia are feeling bitter sorrow about the fact that evil and tears are brought to our fatherland on behalf of Islam."

New Federal Inspector Presented In Ufa
Presidential envoy to the Volga federal district Sergei Kirienko arrived in Ufa on 16 December to formally present the new chief federal inspector in Bashkortostan, Engels Kolmokhemetov, to the republican government the next day, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 16 December. According to Kirienko's decree on 9 December, Kolmokhemetov is to replace the former chief federal inspector, Rostem Khemitov, who had been working in that capacity since September 2000. Khemitov was reportedly transferred for service in Nizhnii Novgorod as Kirienko's deputy in charge of interethnic and interconfessional affairs and operations of the regional offices of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Tax Ministry, and the federal Tax Police.

Liberal Russia's Bashkir Branch Opposes Central Party Decision
Viktor Shmakov, head of the Liberal Russia party branch in Bashkortostan, told Rosbalt on 16 December that his branch rejected the recent resolution of the party's political council expelling 18 regional party leaders and dissolving five of its regional branches. He criticized the party leadership for "trying to earn political capital before the election campaign for Russian State Duma this way." Shmakov said his organization was preparing to file a lawsuit to annul the "illegal resolution." He also admitted the possibility of uniting the Bashkir branch of Liberal Russia, which currently has 3,000 member, with Yabloko or the Communist Party if it fails to overrule the council's decision.

Bashkir Air-Traffic Controllers Admit Joining Nationwide Protest
Air-traffic controllers of the state Bashaeronavigatsiya enterprise do not exclude the possibility of joining the nationwide action of protest held by their colleagues across Russia, Rosbalt reported on 15 December. The agency cited Fennur Miniyarov, general director of the company, as saying that his employees will make a final decision after 19 December, when the talks between Russia's Transport Ministry and the air controllers' Trade Unions Federation are over. Miniyarov added that since the Russian Air Code prohibits strikes by air-traffic controllers, they would only undertake hunger strikes.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi