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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 8, 2001

8 January 2001
Shaimiev Says Tatarstan Prepared to Expand in Size
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 6 January said that Tatarstan was prepared to expand in size if other regions would like to join it, Interfax reported. His comments came in reaction to statements by Vologda Governor Vyacheslaw Pozgalev who noted that Russian president Vladimir Putin plans to reduce the number of federal units to 50.

Orthodox Leaders Back Shaimiev's Reelection
The Archbishop of Kazan and Tatarstan Anastasi on 6 January said that Orthodox Church will support Mintimir Shaimiev for reelection in March, reported. His comments came as Shaimiev received republic Orthodox leaders to greet them on Christmas. The Tatarstan leader noted said that over the past decade, some 70 churches have been returned to Orthodox congregations.

Moscow Worries About Tatar Alphabet
Tatar-Inform reported on 5 January that Russia's nationality policy ministry has begun looking into Tatarstan's plans to switch back to the Latin script. Kim Minnullin, the Tatarstan official in charge of language promotion, said some Duma deputies want to prevent the step without any discussion or debate. He said his department is preparing documents for Moscow in favor of the shift. A Duma delegation is due in Kazan this week to study the issue.

Will the TPC Nominate a Candidate for President?
Tatar Public Center chairman Rashid Yagfarov said on 5 January that a TPC representative will probably run for Tatarstan presidency, Efir-Inform reported. He said that a candidate may be selected at the organization's next plenum. Two of the more than 30 groups allowed to nominate candidates have already done so: the Communist Party and the Movement Against Criminality and Illegality.

KamAZ Teams Win Paris-Dakar Round
Three KamAZ teams on 6 January won the sixth round of the Paris-Dakar rally, the press service of the KamAZ truck company reported. Rally organizers told a briefing the same day that rumors about possible terrorist acts against the drivers were baseless.

By Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan To Issue Commentary on Constitution
A commission charged with developing a scientific-practical commentary to the republic Constitution at a 4 January meeting discussed a concept of the document and appointed working groups, the presidential press service reported. The members of the body headed by the State Assembly Chairman Kostantin Tolkachev agreed to consider corresponding republic and federal legislative acts, as well as international documents.

Rakhimov Greets Orthodox on Christmas
President Murtaza Rakhimov sent greetings to the republic's Orthodox believers on Christmas, Bashinform reported. He stressed that Bashkortostan Orthodox Christians and the Ufa bishop board are making valuable contribution to the strengthening interethnic and inter-religious cooperation in the republic.

Bashkortostan Transport Institute Sets Up Branch in Astana
An affiliate of Bashkortostan Institute of Energy Resources Transport has opened in Astana, Bashinform reported on 4 January. Orders from Kazakhstan make up 16 percent of the institute s work. Asgat Gumerov, the institute director, said that his firm will increase cooperation with Kazakhstan, and plans to transform the affiliate into independent institute.

Government Program to Support Mothers
Bashkortostan s cabinet voted to spend 91 million rubles on a program to support mothers over the next three years, Bashinform reported on 5 January. The new program seeks to improve the care of pregnant women as well as to promote family planning. Health Minister Saniya Shagarova said that as a result of steps already taken, abortions in the republic have fallen 1.5 times in the past five years, while infant mortality has fallen by 12 percent.

Homes for Homeless Children
The republic government has announced plans to create a network of social asylums for homeless children and teenagers, Bashinform reported on 5 January. The Labor and Social Protection Ministry is in charge of the project.

Bashkortostan Urges Regional Economic Organizations to Become More Active
Bashkortostan's Foreign Relations and Trade Ministry said on 5 January that there were problems with cooperation between Ufa and the Greater Ural economic associations and urged the latter to become more active. The ministry noted that many agreements signed earlier were not being fulfilled.

By Gulnara Khasanova