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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 9, 2001

9 November 2001
French Weekly Cautions Putin Against 'Islamic Trap'
In an article titled "Putin and an Islamic Trap," the French weekly "L'Express" warns President Putin against overly active support for Washington to avoid antagonizing some 20 million Russian Muslims. The weekly cites a student at Moscow Islamic University saying that "the American authorities are as criminal as the Kremlin, which continues the Chechen war. In any case, Muslims are being killed, whether Afghans, Palestinians, or Chechens."

The weekly stresses that "the Russian authorities have been demonizing Wahhabis for several years," giving the name "Wahhabi" not only to field commanders Basaev and Khattab, but to all religious figures from Saudi Arabia and to local Muslims who reject officially condoned Islam. As a result of such a policy, the number of Muscovites treating Islam negatively has grown from 17 percent in 1992 to 80 percent in the late 1990s.

"L'Express" cites the "powerful president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, maintaining by his iron hand ethnic and religious peace in his republic" as saying that "the permanent presence of the Orthodox hierarchy at official events proves the short-sightedness of authorities." In his opinion, they should keep a balance in such a sensitive sphere and invite Muslim leaders more often. The weekly writes that the room for maneuver is extremely limited for Vladimir Putin. If he takes too wide a step toward the United States, elites and military leaders may leave him and radical representatives of Russian Islam could become increasingly active, it stressed.

Court Says Tatar, Russian Must Be Taught In Equal Volumes In Schools
A Kazan district court has rejected a suit by Sergei Khapugin claiming that teaching the Tatar and Russian languages in equal volumes in all Tatarstan's secondary educational institutions infringes on the rights of his son, a secondary-school student, reported on 8 November. The plaintiff argued that teaching Tatar is not obligatory under the federal legislation and that Tatarstan's Education Ministry transformed the right to study Tatar into an obligation. He disagreed with the ministry's having based Tatarstan's curriculum on principles applying to institutions for non-Russian students while Russians make up as much as 49 percent of the republic's population.

The court said the curriculum contradicts neither federal nor republican legislation. Judge Galina Andriyanova told the agency that teaching Tatar and Russian in Tatarstan in equal volumes is "natural and correct."

Russian-Turkish Business Forum 'Exceeded Expectations'
Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov told Tatar-inform on 5 November that the results of a Russian-Turkish Business Council meeting in Kazan have "exceeded all expectations" of its organizers. The meeting included businessmen from Latvia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan alongside representatives from some 20 Russian regions.

Salikhov said that roughly 100 of Tatarstan's enterprises participated in the meeting, adding that the Turkish Eximbank proposed financing projects by Tatarstan's small and medium-sized businesses. There was also agreement with the Turkish Foreign Trade Department on training specialists from Tatarstan in Turkey. The Turkish side called the forum "fruitful," Salikhov stressed.

Tatneft To Sell Bonds In Kazan
Tatneft plans to sell 2 billion rubles' worth of bonds on the Kazan stock exchange (KSFT) in the next two years, Vladimir Semernin, the general manager of the Solid investment-finance company, told PRAIM-TASS on 8 November. Previously, Tatneft planned to issue its bonds on the Moscow Inter-Bank Currency Exchange (MMVB); but its management board, together with Tatarstan's government, decided that "this money must remain and work in the republic," the agency said. In 2000, Tatneft sold 200 million rubles' worth of bonds on the MMVB.

Alabuga Said As Old As Kazan
The Scientific Council of the History Institute at the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences asserted that the city of Alabuga was founded in the first decade of the eleventh century, so it is as old as Kazan, Tatar-inform reported. The conclusion was confirmed by the Archeological Institute and the Russian History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

New Leader Takes Over At Business-Promotion Council
Aleksandr Sergeev, the head of the Aleksandr LTD company, was appointed chairman of the Experts Council at the Republican Interdepartmental Commission on Economic and Social Reforms, Tatar-inform reported on 8 November. The commission's chairman, Tatarstan First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov, said the realization of a program for business development is entering a new stage, adding, "We should listen to the voices of those involved in businesses."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Visits Nuriman Raion
President Murtaza Rakhimov on 7 November inspected the construction sites of a children's health center and a mini-power station on a visit to the Nuriman Raion, the presidential press service reported.

Legislature Continues Harmonization
The State Assembly on 8 November passed the first readings of a law on a privatization program for state property and amendments to legislation on drinking water and on science and a state science and technology policy, Bashinform reported. In its second reading, the legislature passed a law on freedom of consciousness, demonstration, and public activities.

Bashkortostan Criminality Is Half Than In Volga, Ural Districts
Tagir Farrakhov, the head of the Ufa interior board, said on 8 November that the crime rate was 105.4 per 10,000 republican residents, half the rate in neighboring regions of the Volga and Ural districts.

Farrakhov said interior bodies have identified the substances in a third of the cases of powder-laced letters. He added that extra emergency measures had been taken in places where anthrax-infected cattle had been buried in Ufa.

Democratic Party of Russia Holds Conference In Bashkortostan
The Democratic Party of Russia (DPR) in Bashkortostan is to hold its conference on 10 November to discuss the party's charter and a program and to elect regional managing bodies, Bashinform reported.

Jobless Rate Declines
The State Employment Service said the republic's unemployment rate is 1.21 percent, down 0.15 percentage points from the beginning of the year, Bashinform reported on 8 November. However, the jobless rate is much higher in selected towns in the republic -- including 11 percent in Agidel and between 3 percent and 5 percent in Mezhgorye, Kumertau, and Beloretsk.

Bashkortostan To Purchase 100 New-Holland Combines
President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 8 November that Bashkortostan will purchase 100 New-Holland combine harvesters, Bashinform reported. The republic's budget has earmarked 832 million rubles ($28 million) for agricultural machines so far this year.

Tatar Weekly Urges Leaders To Promote The Rights Of Bashkortostan's Tatars
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 2 November published an article calling on Tatarstan's leaders to more actively promote the interests of Bashkortostan's Tatars. "The Tatar national republic must be a guarantor of Tatars' survival," the article asserted. Bashkortostan's authorities apply different social conditions to Bashkirs than Tatars, the paper said, and introduce privileges for Bashkirs to enter higher-education institutions and hold office.

"Zvezda Povolzhya" cited an application by Salikh Batyev, who was chairman of the Supreme Council presidium of the Tatar ASSR for 20 years, in which he sought to change documents that presented him as a "Bashkir" though his parents were Tatar. The weekly said that in the 1940s and 1950s, Bashkortostan began promoting a policy of ignorance of the contribution of Tatars to Bashkir culture and education. This led to isolation from Tatarstan and claims to Tatar cultural values, the paper continued. Bashkortostan authorities are seeking to use the upcoming 2003 census to dividing Tatars into several ethnic groups in order to deny Tatars self-determination, which is a slogan of radical Tatar national movements, the paper concluded.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova