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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 8, 2001

8 November 2001
Kremlin Sets Up Tatar Consultation Board
RFE/RL's Moscow correspondent reported on 5 November that the Russian presidential staff is organizing a Tatar Consultation Board of 30 members, 22 of whom are signatories of a petition against the introduction of the Latin-Tatar script in Tatarstan. RFE/RL correspondents and Tatar media have reported that the petition was a result of efforts by the presidential staff, which turned to a number of high-profile Tatars living in Moscow.

Under current Russian law the board cannot occupy any official status, but will rather exist as a public organization. This would mark the first consultation board in the federation aimed at Moscow's relations with ethnic minorities living in Russia.

Ekdes Borkhanov, a Tatar professor living in Moscow, told RFE/RL that he has agreed to join the board, adding that he intends to work to defend the interests of Tatars. He added that President Vladimir Putin intended to use the board to influence the Tatar elite. Borkhanov added, "So far I have not met any reasonable people on the presidential staff, so the board could impart some wisdom on them."

Kazan Communists Mark Bolshevik Revolution...
Some 1,500 mostly elderly people gathered near Gorky Park in Kazan on 7 November to celebrate the 84th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. The meeting organized by the Tatarstan organization of the Russian Communist Party and was attended by several representatives of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and anarchists. After speeches condemning the Russian and Tatarstan governments, federal and republican legislators, Communist leaders proposed that participants vote on a resolution expressing distrust in those governments and lawmakers.

After the Gorky Park meeting, approximately 500 Communists holding portraits of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and Felix Dzerjinsky marched to Freedom Square to lay flowers at Lenin's monument.

...Express Concern With Ethnic Issues...
Together with demands to dissolve the federal and republican governments and legislatures, the resolution protested against the transition to Latin-Tatar script, "splitting the Tatar nation into non-existent ethnic groups like Baptized Tatars, Mishers, and Tiptyars in the upcoming national census," and "the policy of ethnic and cultural genocide with respect to Tatar people in Bashkortostan, where they are forcibly 'Bashkirized.'"

...As Chally Communists Decry Moscow's Pressure On Tatarstan
About 1,000 people joined a memorial meeting devoted to the 1917 revolution in Tatarstan's second city, Chally, on 7 November, RFE/RL reported. Marxlen Fyodorov, the leader of the local Communist Party committee, which is not part of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), told RFE/RL that his organization, unlike the KPRF, stands for protecting the right of Tatar people to self-determination and therefore was against growing pressure from Moscow on Tatarstan's liberties.

Communists Blast U.S.-Led Actions In Afghanistan
In their speeches at meetings to mark the Bolshevik revolution on 7 November in Kazan and Chally, Communist leaders called current developments in Afghanistan "the beginning of World War III" and accused the United States of "being a stronghold of imperialism and capitalism, undertaking acts of aggression against the Afghan people."

Communists criticized Russia's potential involvement in the conflict by saying that "it has already had its own Afghan war and still remembers the results."

Tatenergo Seeks Higher Energy Tariffs
Ilshat Fardiev, the general director of Tatenergo, said that in order to cover its production expenses, his company will ask the republican government for a 50 percent hike in heat and energy tariffs, RFE/RL's Chally correspondent reported on 7 November.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Communists Mark October Revolution Anniversary
Some 300 Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) followers, most elderly, gathered in Ufa on 7 November to mark the 84th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Participants roundly criticized the Russian Labor Code, municipal housing reform, and President Putin's policies, particularly his move toward closer cooperation with the United States. A resolution passed at the meeting calls for the dismissal of the Russian government, dissolution of the Duma, dismissal of Duma deputies who represent Bahkortostan Bakiev, Bagyshaev, Bugera, and Pertsov for their support of the sale of land and against Russia's involvement in the Afghan war.

TPC Pressured To Drop 'Tatar' From Name
Airat Giniatullin, the head of the Tatar Public Center in Bashkortostan, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 5 November that his organization was required to change its name by removing the "Tatar" attribute in order to re-register. Giniatullin said his organization began its re-registration efforts several months ago, as all the republic s civic organizations have to re-register after republican legislation was brought into line with federal laws. Justice Ministry officials said that in case the organization keeps the name "Tatar," it will be unable to be involved in a political activities. Despite authorities' suggestion that TPC change its status of public political organization to that of civic organization, Giniatullin said, his body is going to preserve both its name and political character. "Obstacles we face in the re-registration of our organization prove once more that the rights of Bashkortostan's Tatars are violated," he said.

...As Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy For Several Years
Bashkortostan authorities refuse to register the Tatar National-Cultural Autonomy, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 4 November. Elfir Saqaev, the vice president of Bashkortostan's Tatar national-cultural autonomy, told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service the same day that his organization appealed for registration in September 1999, but has not succeeded in getting a positive result even through the courts. Saqaev put the blame on the presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, saying the Tatar autonomy sent him dozens of letters and telegrams. In response, Kirienko said on a visit to Bashkortostan that a correct national policy is held in the republic. "We see that he considers a violation of Tatar rights a correct national policy," Saqaev said.

Drug Addiction Up
The Health Ministry reported that drug addiction has increased by 250 percent and deaths by drug overdose have grown by 300 percent in the last five years, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 4 November. Eight percent of Bashkortostan s youth are considered drug addicts. The number of drug addicts among draftees has increased fivefold in the past three years.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova