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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 16, 2001

16 November 2001
President Of Academy Of Sciences Urges Halt To Disputes On Latinization
In an interview published in "Respublika Tatarstan" on 15 November, Mansur Khasanov, the president of Tatarstan's Academy of Sciences, called Latinization a "uniquely important and fate-deciding" issue for the Tatar language. He sharply criticized linguists who continued debate on which variant of the Latin alphabet should be used even after a republican law and presidential decree on the introduction of the Latin alphabet was adopted. He said a more representative experiment on teaching Latin-based Tatar language must be conducted involving Tatar schools outside Tatarstan. He also stressed, "We should not be indifferent" to Bashkortostan's position on this issue.

Khasanov also strongly criticized attempts to link terrorism to Islam. He said Islamic traditions of Jadidism, a reformist trend founded by Tatar humanist-thinker Ismail Gasprinskii, refuted stereotypes of Islam as a conservative and aggressive phenomenon and proved its humanistic, tolerant nature and openness to modernity. He stressed the up-to-date character of the ideology of Jadidism, which substantiated the necessity of a close alliance between Turkic and Russian people.

Commenting on proposals to separate Christian Tatars from Tatars in the upcoming census, Khasanov said that Christian Tatars are an ethno-confessional group within the Tatar nation. He said "theories" claiming that they are a Christian group of Bulgars are scientifically unfounded.

Shaimiev Awarded For Promotion Of Electronic Media
Eduard Sagalaev, the president of the National Association of Television and Radio Transmitters, met with President Mintimer Shaimiev on 15 November to award the president for his personal contribution to the development of the electronic mass media, Tatar-inform reported. Sagalaev called Shaimiev a "legendary man" and said that Tatarstan is as saturated with mass media as a strong state and that its authorities had found civilized ways of cooperating with journalists.

Shaimiev used the opportunity to express interest in Sagalaev's proposal for authorities within Russian regions to purchase stocks in the NTV television channel, which could become a media outlet for the regions. Shaimiev noted that the idea is in line with the interests of current efforts at merging the Unity, Fatherland, and All Russia groups.

Shaimiev praised the activities of independent TV companies in the republic but at the same time criticized the Efir television company for its "doubtful polls."

Sagalaev the same day took part in an opening ceremony for the association's representation in Kazan. Tatyana Zavalishina, the Efir TV editor in chief, was appointed director of NAT's mission in Tatarstan.

Mukhametshin Participates In European Regions Conference
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin is taking part in a conference of regions with legislative powers in the Belgian city of Liege on 15-16 November, Tatar-inform reported on 15 November. Mukhametshin is expected to deliver a report on prospects for the development of federalism in Russia at the forum, which is being held under the patronage of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

'Days Of Sweden' Opens In Kazan
President Mintimer Shaimiev on 15 November met with Swedish Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Russia Sven Hirdman to discuss bilateral cooperation, reported. Hirdman said "a unique constitutional system" has been formed in Tatarstan. The ambassador arrived to take part in the "Days of Sweden" in Kazan on 15-16 November. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Hirdman called Tatarstan "an important business partner" for Sweden. Meeting with Hirdman the same day, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhakov said Tatarstan must increase trade with Sweden, now 26th among the republic's trade partners.

Tatarstan Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov told the agency that 100 Swedish and Tatarstan companies are being represented at the forum. Salikhov said the republic is interested in cooperation with Volvo and Scania in automobile production, with ABB in the fuel and energy sector, joint projects on production of packing materials, and on equipping Tatarstan's hospitals.

Three Candidates To Run For Mufti
A plenum of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board on 15 November set the board's second congress for 2 February 2002, Tatar-inform reported. First Deputy Mufti Valiulla Khazrat told the agency that every third of the republic's 1,000 mosques will be represented at the congress by two deputies. The plenum proposed three candidates for mufti, including the incumbent mufti, Gusman Khazrat Iskhakov; the kazyi of Tatarstan's central region, Kamil Khazrat Bikchentaev; and a board member and retired interior colonel, Kharis Khazrat Salikhzhanov.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Local Press Requires Approval Of Administration Heads
Bulat Timerbulatov, an assistant professor at Bashkir State University, told a conference on "Journalism in the 21st Century" held by the Bashkortostan Press Ministry that city and raion newspapers are printed only after receiving the approval of local administration heads, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 November.

Prosecutors Say Anti-Smoking Legislation Violates Human Rights
The Bashkortostan Prosecutor's Office is challenging a republican law aimed at preventing or restricting smoking as a violation of the federal constitution, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 15 November. Prosecutors said the law restricts human rights, adding that a law restricting tobacco sales must also be revised.

Vener Sakhautdinov, a State Assembly committee chairman and one of the authors of the anti-smoking law, countered that it is smoking in schools, hospitals, and on public transport that constitutes a violation of human rights. He said the republic should maintain its laws discouraging alcohol, smoking, and drug addiction even if they contradict federal legislation. He added that there is no need for regional parliaments to be prevented from adopting laws that improve the life of their population.

Bashinform reported the same day that more than a half of residents between 18 and 30 years old are smokers -- 59 percent in cities and 42 percent in rural areas. Some 28 percent of smokers are women.

Harmonization Continues
The State Assembly on 15 November amended in their third readings draft laws on the process for naming settlements; freedom of consciousness, assembly, and public arrangements; the legal status of administrative premises; and natural medicinal resources and health resorts, Bashinform reported. The legislature also approved on second reading an amendment to the law governing the cabinet of ministers. A clean-air bill was amended in its first reading.

State Assembly Chairman Visits Iraq
Visiting Iraq on 12-14 November, Bashkortostan State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev met with the Iraqi foreign affairs chief and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, parliamentary Speaker Sadun Hammadi, and First Deputy Oil Minister Huseyn Hasidi to discuss bilateral cooperation, Bashinform reported on 15 November.

Bashkortostan Delegation Visits UNESCO Headquarters
A delegation of Bashkortostan's parliamentary committee on science, culture, and education met in Paris with the secretary-general of the UNESCO Clubs global federation, Patrik Gallo, to discuss cooperation projects, Bashinform reported on 15 November. Winners of a republic-wide, youth leaders competition were among the visitors, delivering reports within the framework of a round-the-world expedition devoted to "The World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO."

Democratic Youth Union Holds Charity Projects Competition
Bashkortostan's Democratic Youth Union announced a competition of charity projects among the republic's youth under a grant the union received from the New Prospects foundation, Bashinform reported on 15 November. The winner of the competition will be given $500 to implement the project as well as information and other assistance.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova