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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 24, 2001

24 September 2001
Speaker Says Moscow Cannot Legally Influence Alphabet Issue
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin on 21 September said that federal authorities cannot legally block the switch to the Latin script as that is a fundamental right of the Tatar people. But he noted that the republic authorities continue to receive appeals against latinization -- although he pointed out that very few of those writing speak Tatar. At the same time, Mukhametshin said that Tatar scholars believe that latinization is essential to the survival of Tatar and "we cannot ignore their opinion."

Tatar Officials Say Moscow�s Interference With Alphabet Issue Threatens Tatarstan's Sovereignty, Tatar Language
Mansur Khasanov, the president of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, told a press conference that �the letter of 82� had been initiated in 1920s against the introduction of Latin Tatar script and that in late 1930s, all its signatories disappeared into Stalin's Gulag. Those who had recently signed such a letter against latinization did not study at Tatar schools and few of them speak Tatar, he said. If the Duma decides to prohibit switching to Latin Tatar script, he noted, this would be �a return to the past� and the annihilation of Tatarstan�s sovereignty. Rafail Khakimov, a state adviser to Tatarstan President, told �Vostochnyi ekspress� on 21 September that anti-latinization efforts by the Duma are �a display of imperial instinct� and a touchstone that could be followed by annulment of Tatar as a state language.

Tatar Intelligentsia to Discuss Course of Latinization
The Tatarstan Writers Union, the Tatar World Congress Executive Committee, the Tatar Public Center, the Tatar Magarif Union, and the Gabdulla Tuqai Museum plan to hold a forum on 27 September to discuss obstacles on the way of latinization.

Opponents of Latinization Do Not Know Tatar
Several Tatar public figures, among them President of the Bashkortostan Academy of Sciences Robert Nigmatullin, rector of the Moscow Islam college Marat Murtazin, and film director Bulat Mansurov held a press conference in Interfax on 20 September to state their disagreement with the introduction of Tatar Latin script. They said, however, that they do not read any books or newspapers even in Tatar even written in Cyrillic.

Few People In Russia Familiar With Tatarstan�s Latinization Plans
The Public Opinion Foundation announced that 67 percent of residents questioned in Russia�s 44 oblasts, krais, and republics don�t know about Tatarstan�s plans to introduce Latin script, reported on 22 September. Forty five percent said they would oppose such a move while 6 percent support it.

Most Kazan Residents Horrified by Terrorist Acts in U.S.
"Vostochnyi ekspress� on 21 September reported that 78 percent of Kazan residents said they felt horror after reports about terrorist attacks in the US. Nine percent said they were pleased.

Kazan to Produce 100 Helicopters for Defense Ministry
The Kazan helicopter plant has won a competition to deliver 100 Ansat helicopters to Russian Defense Ministry over the next 15 years, reported on 21 September.

Kazan, Orenburg Sign Cooperation Accord
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov and his Orenburg counterpart Yurii Meshcheryakov on 21 September signed a cooperation agreement between the two cities, reported. Meshcheryakov said that 24 percent of Orenburg�s population are Tatars.

Kazan Apartments to Have Metered Utilities
The Kazan city administration on 21 September announced its plan to equip all apartments in the republic capital with meters by 2005, Efir-inform reported. The project will be financed by the city budget.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Academy Of Sciences Head Opposes Tatar Latinization
Bashkortostan Academy of Sciences President and Duma deputy Robert Nigmatullin told reporters on 20 September that the introduction of Tatar Latin script will result in its break with the Bashkir language as well as with the Russian language and culture. He said this is not �a private issue of Tatarstan.� He said that latinization is intended to bring the Tatar language to the West but stressed that most urban Tatars do not know their native language and that it is rural residents who would be taught in Latin script. At the same time, he called for developing federal programs to promote languages of Russia�s peoples.

Tadjutdin Says Muslims Not Responsible for Bin Laden
Mufti Talgat Tadjutdin said on 20 September that �Osama bin Laden does not represent the whole Islamic world, and the latter disapproves his activity.� His comments came at a meeting of Russia�s religious leaders devoted to the U.S. plans concerning Afghanistan.

Rakhimov Hands Out Medals to Mothers of Large Families
President Murtaza Rakhimov on 21 September granted 72 mothers of large families with medals, Bashinform reported. Rakhimov said that as of this year, families having more than four children are paid 1,000-1,500 rubles subsidies, and those families with over ten children are provided with micro-buses.

Father of Bashkortostan Officer Killed in Chechnya Calls for Peace Negotiations
In an interview published in �Kyzyl tang� on 21 September, Albert Gallyamov, a Bashkortostan resident who had lost his son in Chechnya last month, criticized proposals to establish order in Chechnya by �razing it to the ground.� If so, he said, the whole nation will be annihilated. He said that �ordinary� Chechens are not responsible for this war and called for peace negotiations with Chechens to resolve the issue.

Seven from Bashkortostan Killed in Chechnya in Last 50 Days
RFE/RL�s Ufa correspondent reported on 21 September that seven of the republic's 400 servicemen who have been in Chechnya on 7 August have been kiled and 50 more injured in the fighting. Eighty percent of the losses are ethnic Tatars and Bashkirs.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova