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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 18, 2002

18 December 2002
People's Front Calls For Making Tatar Only Official Language In Republic
The People's Front held a conference on 17 December, during which it passed a resolution calling for the continued transition of the Tatar language to the Latin alphabet and also for a referendum to be held on the issue among the republic's Tatar population, Tatar-inform reported the same day. The organization, which is made up of 25 Tatar civic groups, said the Latin alphabet is better-suited to the peculiarities of the Tatar language and that it would also promote the use of Tatar on the Internet and in other means of modern communication. The organization also said that it is demanding that Tatar be made the only official state language in the republic in response to the recent passing of amendments to the law on the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation that made the use of the Cyrillic alphabet mandatory for all state languages (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 12 December 2002). The group said that the Russian language should be given the status of a language for interethnic communication. The People's Front also demanded that all official documents in the republic's organizations and institutions be kept in both Tatar and Russian.

Prime Minister, Labor Minister Address Wage-Arrears Issue
Speaking at a meeting of republican trade-union leaders on 17 December, Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov suggested that stricter measures be introduced for the heads of companies that owe their employees back wages and that prosecutors could file charges against companies that don't follow those regulations, reported the same day. Tatar Labor and Employment Minister Boris Zakharov said at the meeting that about 1,400 companies in the republic own some 1.1 billion rubles ($34.5 million) in back wages.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Presidential Envoy Promotes Holding Presidential, Duma Elections Together
Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko told a press briefing in Ufa on 17 December that "it would advisable" for the republic to move its planned presidential election from June 2003 to December of that year in order to hold it at the same time as elections to the Russian State Duma, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 18 December. Speaking on behalf of federal authorities, Kirienko said, "If deputies in the republican State Assembly decide to move the [Bashkir] presidential election to December to schedule it [at the same time as Russian State] Duma elections, we will not object." When asked for his personal views regarding the republican presidential election, Kirienko replied: "I don't live in [Bashkortostan], and I don't vote here. The residents of the republic have to make their own choice."

Education Ministry Considers Introduction Of Orthodox Culture A Bad Idea
Bashkir Deputy Education Minister Natalya Golisheva told RosBalt on 16 December that her ministry thought that introducing Orthodox culture into the country's secondary schools was not a good idea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November and 3 December 2002). Golisheva said that republican education officials held a number of meetings as a result of which they concluded that this initiative can be disputed, "because studying the fundamentals of a [particular] religion in such a multiethnic and multiconfessional society as ours is a very delicate issue." Golisheva said that the Bashkir Education Ministry would not prevent schools from introducing Orthodox culture as an optional subject.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi