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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 25, 2001

25 October 2001
Shaimiev Meets Putin Ahead Of Crucial Parliamentary Session
President Mintimer Shaimiev met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 24 October, Tatarstan's presidential press service reported. According to the statement, "The presidents discussed the issues of Tatarstan's socio-economic development and other aspects of political life in the republic."

The weekly "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 25 October called the meeting "a decisive event for the republic's destiny, because Putin offered Shaimiev the post of Russian Federation Council chairman" in exchange for the presidency in Tatarstan.

The newspaper identified Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, Interior Minister Asgat Safarov, State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin, and Russian State Property Minister Farit Gazizullin as possible candidates in the event of early presidential elections.

Beginning on 25 October, Tatarstan's State Council will debate a list of amendments to the republic's constitution requested by Moscow and aimed at eliminating contradictions with federal law. The amendments could affect key clauses on Tatarstan's state status, including on its sovereignty.

Chally TPC Protests Amendments To Tatarstan's Constitution
The Chally branch of the moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center on 24 October issued a statement saying that "bringing Tatarstan's constitution into conformity with that of Russia" is a clever label for "the Moscow dictatorship's [elimination] of the basic principles of Tatarstan's and the Tatar people's right to self-determination" from the law of the land. "The Russian Federation is currently turning into a unitary state with an authoritarian regime," the TPC said, urging the public to join a demonstration near the State Council building.

No Anthrax Letters Received In Tatarstan
Tatarstan State Hygienic-Epidemiological Monitoring Service announced negative results in biological tests on 15 suspicious letters received throughout the republic on 24 October. The letters reportedly contained powdery substances that were feared to contain anthrax.

World Tatar Congress Executive Committee Visits Perm
The executive committee of the World Tatar Congress met with leaders of the Tatar ethno-cultural autonomy in Perm Oblast on 24 October to discuss "joint efforts aimed at satisfying the cultural needs of the Tatar population living in the region," RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported. Seventeen Tatar delegations representing Perm Tatar communities joined the event.

Military Official Dissatisfied With Recruitment Figures
The deputy military commissioner in Tatarstan, Vadim Safiullin, said on 23 October that Tatarstan is to send 5,000 conscripts to the Russian Army this fall, but 3,500 of them are free from army service. Some 170 are evading conscription while others have legal reasons such as poor health or educational commitments.

Tatarstan is among the Russian regions with the highest number of people of recruitment age, though it also produces one of the lowest recruitment figures in the federation.

Muslim Religious Board Appoints Bolgar Mosque Head
Gusman khazret Iskhak, chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board (MRB), visited the Bolgar mosque in Kazan on 24 October to participate in the appointment ceremony of Shaukat khazret Abubakir as imam (spiritual tutor) there. The Bolgar mosque had been headed by Salman khazret, who openly opposed the MRB and refused to cooperate with it. Local Muslims apparently "tired of the long-running opposition between the young Salman khazret and the MRB."

Minister Concerned With Domestic Cargo Companies...
Transportation and Roads Minister Vladimir Shvetsov said on 24 October that he was concerned by the state of Tatarstan's transport companies. He said they "fail to compete with Bulgarian, Belarusian, Lithuanian, and Turkish cargo transporters, therefore losing $2 million in revenues in 2001." He suggested that a new company should be formed in the Republic of Tatarstan to offer domestic customers cheaper and safer services.

...And Plans To Compete With Local, Privately Owned Public Transport
Minister Shvetsov said the same day that the government intended to establish a state-owned bus transport agency to "improve the organization and quality of public transport." State-owned public transport's revenues are plummeting due to the growing popularity of privately owned vans operating in urban areas.

Tatarstan Reported To Have Slow Prices Growth
The press service of the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district reported on 24 October that Tatarstan was experiencing one of the district's lowest inflation rates in 2001. The report said that prices increased by 11-12.5 percent in the Saratov, Orenburg, and Samara oblasts, the Komi-Permyatskii Autonomous okrug, and in Tatarstan.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Newspaper Receives Suspicious Letter Signed 'U.B.L.'
Aigul Shigaeva, an employee in the mail department of "Komsomolskaya pravda v Bashkortostane," received a letter signed "U.B.L." with a white substance inside, reported on 24 October. The general manager of the media holding, Raufa Rakhimova, said that her organization faced large financial losses as a result of the act and ensuing disinfection efforts. The Ufa Post Office is implementing measures to prevent threats of biological terrorism.

Uralenergo-2001 Energy Fair Opens In Ufa
More than 150 energy companies from Bashkortostan and other Russian regions, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus are taking part in the international trade fair Uralenergo-2001, which opened in Ufa on 23 October, Bashkortostan's Trade and Industry Chamber ( reported.

Government Promotes Service For The Physically Impaired
The cabinet passed regulations promoting services to the hearing-impaired, the presidential press service reported on 24 October. The move grants 15 hours of translation a year to each such disabled individual.

Production Growth Continues
Industrial production in Bashkortostan increased by 8.5 percent in the first nine months of the year with major growth in oil processing, ferrous metals, machine-building, metallurgy, timber, and the construction-materials sectors, Bashinform reported on 24 October. A production slump eased in the energy sector, non-ferrous metals production, and the chemical and petrochemical sectors while production fell in light industry.

Local Press Subscriptions Rise...
Press and Mass Media Minister Zufar Timerbulatov told on 24 October that 441 printed and 74 electronic-media outlets are publishing in Bashkortostan. Subscribers account for some 1.3 million copies of republican publications, about 11 percent more than in 2000. The republic's state publishing house, Kitap, prints a combined 1.8 million copies of 175 book titles annually, Timerbulatov said.

...As Foreign Trade Turnover Slips
Bashkortostan's top customs official, Marina Baiburina, said the republic's foreign-trade turnover fell by 24.5 percent to $1.5 billion in the first nine months of the year compared to 2000, Bashinform reported. Exports totaled $1.2 billion, while imports reached $300 million.

Democratic Youth Union Wins Grant
The Union of Democratic Youth won a grant from the Russian Education Ministry to execute a project on developing cooperation between industrial enterprises, students, and young scientists, Bashinform reported on 24 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova