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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 24, 2001

24 October 2001
Parliamentary Speaker Denies Accusations In Russian Paper
In a letter to the editor-in-chief of Russian "Nezavisimaya Gazeta," Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farit Mukhametshin, rebuts a 29 September article by Mikhail Tulsky connecting him with the Libyan Taiba Fund. Mukhametshin says he was "confounded by the report about his contacts with the Libyan Taiba Fund" and requests that "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" publish his denial. He also says the assertion of Taiba financial aid to Yoldiz Muslim School in Chally is false.

Tulsky has authored articles on the Wahhabist stream of Islam published in the past by "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" and website, and blaming officials and public figures in the Tatarstan Republic for cooperating with radical Islamic groups and promoting Islamic fundamentalism. He cited the statements of the pro-Moscow leader of Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board, Talgat Tajutdin, and his supporter in Kazan, Muslim cleric Ferit Salman.

Constitutional Commission Begins Work
Tatarstan's Constitution Commission, chaired by president Mintimer Shaimiev, convened on 23 October to discuss the shape of future amendments to the republic's highest law and the general organization of their work. Citing the growing need for changes and additions to the document, Shaimiev told the meeting that "the present Tatarstan Constitution was adopted before the Russian Constitution and the power-sharing treaty between Russia and Tatarstan came into existence."

Federal Official Says Regional Government Must Share Moscow's Responsibilities, Not Powers
Dmitrii Kozak, deputy chief of the Russian presidential staff, said the country's federal relations have entered their second phase -- characterized by the division of responsibilities between Moscow and the region rather than the commissions being offered by Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, the pro-Kremlin information service reported on 23 October. In speeches at the Russian State Council and press conferences, the Tatar president has repeatedly stated the vital need for distinct delegation of powers between federal and republican governments.

Shaimiev Awards French Chemist With Arbuzov Prize...
President Mintimer Shaimiev awarded the professor of the Paris polytechnic university and president of the French chemical society, Francis Matte, with the annual Arbuzov Prize in Kazan on 23 October. The French chemist called the prize an honor and expressed his respect for the Kazan school of organic chemistry, which has become a base for the modern production of plastics, synthetic rubber and medicines.

The five-year-old Arbuzov Prize is named after a chemistry scientist from Kazan State University and has been awarded to three Russian chemists, as well as chemists from the United States and Poland.

...Comments On The Recent Brickbat From Rakhimov Junior
President Shaimiev took exception to the recent suggestion by the son of Bashkortostan's president and the head of Basheftekhim's board of directors, Ural Rakhimov, that there were no qualified chemistry experts in Tatarstan. He said such critics should "pay more attention to the history of the age-old traditions of Kazan's chemistry university, adding that it is consistently acknowledged by "chemists of the world."

Federal Official Urges More Efficient Work From Judiciary
The federal inspector to the Tatarstan Republic, Denis Akhmadullin, told a meeting of the newly formed Russian Justice Ministry board in Tatarstan that its officials had to improve work on implementing court rulings and thoroughly check public organizations applying for official registration. He emphasized that failures in executing court verdicts undermined citizens' trust in judicial bodies.

Federal Body Expected To Assist Tatarstan's Foreign Relations
Minister of Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Khafiz Salikhov told a press conference on 23 October that Tatarstan's government initiated the idea of establishing a representational office of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Kazan. He said the office will "assist in coordinating Tatarstan's international and foreign policies."

Tatarstan To Boost Ties With China
Minister Salikhov also told reporters that a Tatarstan governmental delegation recently signed a number of contracts with Chinese companies, including state-owned Great Chinese Wall Co. and Shanghai Young Industry Development. The republic reportedly agreed to supply heating equipment to Chinese partners, while the Chinese are planning to launch fiber-optic-cable and plastic-pipe production in Tatarstan.

Tatneft Gets Hard-Currency Loan
Tatneft oil company signed a loan agreement with German Commerzbank for a two-year credit of $125 million. The German side required the company to guarantee the debt repayment with contracts on oil supplies. Tatneft will reportedly use the loan to expand production capacity. For about a decade, Germany has been Tatarstan's major foreign trade partner, purchasing its oil and oil products.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets 'Izvestia' Editor
President Murtaza Rakhimov met the editor-in-chief of Russian newspaper "Izvestia," Mikhail Kogozhkin, on 23 October in Ufa. The presidential press service reported that Rakhimov informed Kogozhkin about the current economic and political situation in Bashkortostan and offered his own views on relations within the federation. The two also discussed the newspaper's subscription drive in Bashkortostan.

Customs Report Growing Revenues
The deputy chief in charge of economic issues for Bashkortostan's Customs Board, Marina Bayburina, on 23 October said that customs have already contributed more than 6 billion rubles [$204 million] to the state budget this year. She said that customs revenues have grown by 7.8 percent compared to 2000 due to an increase in tax revenues from oil exports.

Opinion Poll Shows Increasing Popularity Of Internet As Mass Media
The Seventh Collegium in Ufa, a non-profit press club, held a public opinion poll among university and college students in Ufa that showed some 63 percent of them were informed of current developments in Afghanistan from television, 21 percent from the Internet, 9 percent from the radio, and 7 percent from the press. The organization said the figures reveal a trend toward an increasing role for the Internet compared to other types of mass media.

Subsistence Wage Reported At 996-1,453 Rubles
Bashkortostan's cabinet introduced a new calculation of the subsistence wage in the republic, the presidential press service reported on 23 October. The officially declared subsistence wage, enough to fulfill the basic needs of residents, ranges from 1,453 rubles [$49] among the working population to 996 rubles [$34] for pensioners.

Powder-Letter 'Terrorism' Arrives In BR
Recent media reports of anthrax-laced mail in the United States spawning frequent cases of anonymous letters containing powdery substances within Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 23 October. Although such letters have turned out to be innocuous, the military is investigating every such case.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi