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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 4, 2001

4 October 2001
Court Says Tatarstan Constitution Contradicts Federal Legislation
Tatarstan�s Supreme Court on 3 October deemed that the republic's constitution contradicted federal legislation, reported. Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Aleksandr Zvyagintsev challenged the legislation. The court accepted major parts of his arguments but rejected some others. noted that the sides, represented on the republican side at the hearing by Tatarstan�s deputy prosecutor, Vladimir Metelin, and Tatar deputies and lawyers, have not come to any agreement. It stressed that the court did not take into account the power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Kazan.

Tadjuddin Opposes Latinization
In an interview published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 3 October, the head of the Muslims Central Religious Board, Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin, sharply criticized Tatarstan�s decision to switch to Latin script as "insufficiently considered" and called on President Mintimer Shaimiev to abolish it. "Everyone calls us Tatars while we are really Bulgars," he said. "The Cyrillic script founded by Bulgarians Kirill and Mefodii is not alien for us," he said, while "the Latin one is absolutely alien." He said that the introduction of the Latin script could turn him into "a foreigner in his native country."

Weekly Predicts Anti-Sovereignty Drive Of Opposition In Tatarstan, Bashkortostan
"Vek" on 28 September reported that the Komi parliament annulled the republic's sovereignty on 26 September, thus "having returned to Putin Yeltsin�s present." The paper commented that the opposition forces in such "impregnable bulwarks of 'sovereignization'" as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan can also begin "playing pro-Moscow card."

Kazan Mayor Visits Mexico
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov left for Mexico on 2 October to take part in a meeting bringing together the heads of cities with UNESCO-protected historical monuments, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported the same day.

Modernized Runway Open At Kazan International Airport
A new landing strip and filling station were unveiled at Kazan's international airport on 3 October, reported. Russian Transport Minister Karl Ruppel took part in the ceremony. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said the federal budget began subsidizing the reconstruction of Kazan airport this year and has allotted 500 million rubles ($17 million) for the work. He said the project includes the reconstruction of one terminal, a hotel, cargo facilities, and a communications system by 2005.

Kazan Loses 30 Percent Of Drinkable Water
Igor Frolov, an official from the Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry, said on 3 October that a third of the drinkable water in Kazan leaks out of the system because of the wear and tear in water-pipes, Efir-inform reported. Frolov said that Kazan is fifth on the list of Volga Federal District cities with the purest air but only 68 percent of polluting substances are caught. He added that pollution had grown over the past year after many facilities began using black oil in place of gas.

Social Democrats In Tatarstan Unite
The leader of the Russian Party of Social Democracy (RPSD) in Tatarstan, Khanif Sharipov, told a party conference in Kazan that membership in Tatarstan has increased fourfold in the past year, Tatar-inform reported on 2 October. He said that all social-democratic organizations in the republic, including the Russian United Social-Democratic Party, the Spiritual Heritage, the Social-Democratic Party of Russia, the Republican Party of the Russian Federation, and RPSD, have set up an organizing committee to form a united party.

National Organization Leader Attacked
Several people, one of whom introduced himself as a Criminal Investigation Department employee, assaulted the leader of the Aznaqai raion national organization's Shakirzyan Zalyaev, Tatar-inform reported on 3 October. The assailants reportedly ordered him not to take part in an upcoming Milli Mejlis plenum or have his home blown up and be killed along with his children. Milli Mejlis has called the event "the beginning of terror[ism] against active leaders of the Tatar national movement" and called on law-enforcement bodies to take necessary measures.

Chally Needs Facilities To Treat Drug Addicts
"Moskovskii komsomolets v Tatarstane" reported on 3 October that 3,000 drug addicts have been registered in Chally, while the only specialized clinic in the city can hold just 30 patients.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Pro-government Scholars Deny Accusations Against 'Bashkirization' Policy
In a 3 October interview with Bashinform, Eduard Khamitov, the executive committee chairman of the pro-government Congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan, the rector of Bashkir State Pedagogical University, and Elza Khusnutdinova, department chief of the Biochemistry and Genetics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, condemned writer and Tatarstan State Council Deputy Tufan Minnulin for accusing BR authorities of ethnic meddling. Minnulin had charged that authorities "forc[ed] the Tatars to call themselves Bashkirs by holding anthropologic and blood tests, which were used for defining their ethnic origin." His statement was published in "Kommersant" daily on 13 September. Some local media had quoted ethnic Tatars living in the predominantly Tatar Yanaul Region of Bashkortostan as saying that a scientific research group headed by Elza Khusnutdinova had taken blood samples from them and asked questions to define their ethnic self-identity

In her statement for Bashinform, Khusnutdinova said, "It was absolutely impossible to define an individual's ethnic identity by his DNA." Previously she told and Russian ORT TV that, "Everybody has genetic peculiarities which influence the features of ethnic character.... After learning the ethnic-genetic peculiarities of different peoples, specialists can draw a geographical map of diseases."

Eduard Khamitov and Bashkortostan's Writers Union chairman, Ravil Bikbayev, addressed a letter to Tufan Minnulin expressing their discontent with "ungrounded attacks on Bashkortostan" and emphasizing that "due to the frequent mixed-ethnic marriages it was hard to speak of any pure nationalities at all."

Minister Says Only 'Fanatics' Can Work As Teachers In Bashkortostan
Education Minister Galia Mukhametdyanova told a press conference on 3 October that, "It is necessary to ensure decent salaries for teachers." She added that 68,000 teachers currently working in BR were "enthusiasts and fanatics, because no other people could work for such [low] wages."

Trade Unions Sign Accord With Employers
Bashkortostan's Trade Unions Federation signed a trilateral agreement with the republican government and major employers on 3 October in Ufa. The agreement, stipulating the conditions of stable relationship between employers and employees based on the timely payment of salaries and quick repayment of wage-arrears, is to remain in force for the next three years.

Bashneft Prospects Oil For Kazakhstan
Bashneft company began drilling oil wells in Aktubinsk oblast, Kazakhstan, Bashinform reported on 3 October.

Moslem Leader Speaks Against Attributing Terrorism To Islam
The Ufa-based leader of the Central Religious Board of Russia's Muslims, Talgat Tajutdin, in an interview with "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" on 3 October urged Russian and international media to avoid using the term "Islamic extremism." He said, "It is impossible to link the tragic events in the U.S. or processes in Chechnya with Islam or any other faith." He stressed that Islam taught its followers to "regard the representatives of other faiths as brothers and it was prohibited to force someone into Islam." Tajutdin praised the efforts of the Russian government, which made possible the construction of over 1,000 mosques across the country within the last decade.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi