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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 8, 2001

8 October 2001
Foreign Affairs Official Calls Anti-Afghan Military Campaign 'Inefficient'
Timur Akulov, the head of Tatarstan's presidential foreign affairs department, on 8 October said "more efficient measures could be taken in order to find and annihilate bin Laden" than the U.S.-led military campaign against the ruling Taliban that began on 7 October.

In mid-1990s, Akulov held negotiations with the Taliban in an effort to free Tatar pilots from Taliban captors. After a year in captivity, the pilots escaped.

Muslim Religious Board Says Innocent Victims In U.S. Military Campaign Cannot Be Justified
The press center of the Tatarstan Muslim Religious Board on 8 October issued a statement saying it is "necessary to fight terrorism and extremism," but adding, "Criminals and extremists have no nation or religion but use it to their own ends." The board said, "Terrorist acts against innocent victims cannot be justified," adding that the aim of defeating terrorists is not likely to be achieved in the manner the U.S. has selected. Though it is said that Islam is not an enemy in this war, it is a Muslim population that will suffer, the board said. The statement adds that there is a real danger that the current military campaign might become a world war against Islam. It says the problems of Afghanistan can be resolved only through peaceful negotiations and by its own people.

Last Minaret Installed On Qol Sherif Mosque
Several thousand people, including some 1,000 imams of Tatarstan's mosques as well as Christians and representatives of other religions, took part in the ceremony of placing a half-moon on a minaret of the Qol Sherif mosque in the Kazan Kremlin, Tatar-inform reported on 5 October. President Mintimer Shaimiev called the erection of Qol Sherif an important event for all Muslims. He said that the fate of that mosque is similar to the fate of the Tatar people -- people's hopes revive like the mosque is being revived after it had been destroyed. Shaimiev expressed his belief that the revival of Islam will never be used for aims of radicalism.

Ravil Gainutdin, the chairman of the Muslim Religious Board of Central-European part of Russia, said that Qol Sherif is the pride of all Muslims and that Islam is a religion of peace. Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan greeted Muslims on the event and expressed his wishes that the republic's peoples live in peace and concord.

TPC Calls For Civil Disobedience
The Tatar Public Center on 5 October called on Tatarstan's people to start actions of civil disobedience if Moscow does not stop putting pressure on the republic in attempts to deprive it of its sovereignty, Tatar-inform reported. It said that the Russian authorities don't recognize the right of peoples' self-determination or Tatarstan's Declaration of Sovereignty, and are thus forcing the country to return to a totalitarian system. TPC stated its protests to the revision of Tatarstan's Constitution and called on the State Council to announce an official memorial day on 15 October -- when the conquest of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible is marked -- and to begin construction of a monument for the defenders of Kazan. TPC leader Rashid Jagfarov said that his organization plans to set up a "shadow cabinet" in order to resist Moscow's pressure.

Politicians Comment On All Russia, Fatherland, Unity Merger
Duma deputy Mikhail Rokitsky told Tatar-inform on 5 October that he would praise a merger of All Russia with Unity and Fatherland, as it would "significantly increase the influence" of a united party. But he said it is doubtful that Shaimiev will agree to head that party as he had once already rejected such a proposal, arguing that his status as president doesn't permit him to follow political preferences.

A state adviser to Tatarstan's president, Rafail Khakimov, said that Fatherland-All Russia (OVR) will likely merge with Unity and that the event will be quite reasonable as Unity is in fact a "clone" of OVR. The merger would provide additional authority to centrist forces, he said. But he said it's "impossible" that Shaimiev will head the party, as it is prohibited by the republic's constitution. And he added it would be "more reasonable" if Duma deputy Oleg Morozov, an All Russia leader who represents Tatarstan in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, becomes the leader of the new party.

Meanwhile, as "Vremya novostei" reported on 5 October, Khakimov suggested that after the three parties merge, Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev should be dismissed from his post. Khakimov, who is a member of the All Russia executive committee, said that since the new party will have an absolute majority in the Duma, there is no longer justification for Gennadii Seleznev, representing the minority, to keep the post. Khakimov said that there is no reason for All Russia to exist separately as no differences between positions of OVR and Unity could be found. However, the paper quoted Fatherland leader Aleksandr Vladislavlev as saying that his movement is not going to merge with anyone except Unity.

Communists Join Russia-Wide Protest Action
Tatarstan's communists on 5 October took part in a Russia-wide protest against the Land and Labor codes, which they consider infringements on the rights of labor collectives, Efir-inform reported. In Kazan, however, local communists did not stage any marches and only distributed leaflets.

Draftees To Pass HIV Tests In Elmet
Deputy Elmet administration head Vasilii Samoilov on 5 October suggested that all draftees must pass HIV tests, Efir-inform reported. Two HIV-positive draftees had been called up in Elmet during the spring campaign. The agency reported that 500 Elmet residents are currently avoiding military service.

Tatneft Promotes Iranian Contract
Tatneft chief engineer Nail Ibragimov said that the project on the delivery of equipment for Iranian oil-extracting companies under way since 1996 is a priority for his company, reported on 5 October. He said that his company believes that OPEC will keep oil prices "reasonable".

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rosenergoatom Promotes Construction Of Bashkir Nuclear Station
Rosenergoatom President Erik Pozdyshev on 5 October met with Bashkortostan Deputy Prime Minister Midkhat Shakirov and Bashkirenergo General Manager Nikolai Kurapov to discuss completion of the Bashkir Nuclear Station, Interfax reported. Shakirov said Ufa already faces an energy shortfall, adding that the launch of the power station will also help provide energy for neighboring Udmurtia, Chelyabinsk Oblast, and other regions. A Rosenergoatom commission is now inspecting the Bashkir Nuclear Station, whose construction was halted in 1990.

Speaker Says Declaration Of Sovereignty Not Emotional Act
State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev on 5 October said that Bashkortostan�s declaration of sovereignty "was not an emotional act" and that it resulted in stability and economic revival within the republic. He said the power-sharing treaty between Ufa and Moscow must be treated as a legal foundation and that it may form the groundwork for any future federative treaty. But Moscow�s attempts to annul it reflect anti-federalization trends in Russia, he stressed.

Mufti Calls For Preservation Of Treaty-Based Relations, Prevention Of Wahhabism
Mufti Talgat Tadjutdin said on 5 October that he strongly supports efforts by Russian President Vladimir Putin to strengthen the state as an integral entity and a "controllable community of sovereign regions." He said that treaty-based relations between Ufa and Moscow should be spread to all regions. He also said it is necessary to prevent the development in Bashkortostan of "the Wahhabism that had taken hold in some regions," and protested attempts to link international terrorism to Islam.

Infant Mortality Down, Maternal Mortality Still High
Health Care Minister Rais Khasanov on 5 October said the republic's government last year allocated 4.8 billion rubles ($163 million) for the protection of residents' health, Bashinform reported. He said the infant-mortality rate and contagious-diseases statistics had fallen during the past year but added that disease rates among infants and pregnant women remained high, along with death rates during childbirth.

Cabinet Promotes Construction Of Housing For Youth
Kamilya Davletova, the head of the republic's Youth Policy Committee, said on 5 October that the republican cabinet had allocated 12.8 million rubles ($435,000) in the first half of the year for the construction of housing for young people. She said that 550 young families and 150 veterans of the Chechen war have been provided with housing credits.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova