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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 20, 2001

20 November 2001
Aznakay Militia 'Picks The Wrong Time' To Detain Marsel Salyamov
Interior authorities from Tatarstan's Aznakay Region on 17 November detained and released Marsel Salyamov, a businessman who has made news recently with a suit challenging Tatarstan law and its legislature. His suit is against the Tatarstan Constitution and the State Council, and was filed with the Russian Constitutional Court on 12 November. Salyamov told reporters that the militia explained his arrest by saying he has failed for five months to turn up for testimony as a witness in a felony case. Salyamov claimed he has received no written notice from investigators, while regional prosecutor Fanis Salimov said the same day that Salyamov has avoided meetings with police officials and refused to talk with them over the telephone.

The prosecutor acknowledged that "it wasn't the right time to detain Salyamov, just after his return from the Constitutional Court, because it could prompt allegations of possible political grounds" for his detention. "But there are grounds for detaining him and in another situation I wouldn't release him" at all, he added.

Salyamov is now obliged to meet the detectives once a week.

Prime Minister Describes Woes Of Republic's Postal Service
Speaking at a governmental meeting on 19 November, Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said the number of post offices should be cut in half in Tatarstan because many are unprofitable. The republican government issued a decree in 1999 allowing post offices to distribute pension payments to the elderly and even open food stores on their premises, among other measures, to ward off financial trouble. Nevertheless, the postal service is facing a severe crisis due to a drastic reduction in mail, postal money transfers, and subscriptions to print publications. The situation has already resulted in 5.8 million rubles ($195,000) in losses so far in 2001.

Moreover, a number of Tatarstan's regions are violating the 1999 decree by refusing to allow tax breaks on earnings from rent collected by the postal service.

Prime Minister Minnikhanov urged the chiefs of Tatarstan's Pochtasi company "not to expect more support from the state, but work on offering more services to customers and becoming more commercial."

Finance Minister Says Oil Prices Not To Affect Social Protection
Finance Minister Robert Musin said on 19 November that a possible slump in world oil prices would not undermine the social security programs outlined in Tatarstan's state budget for 2002. He admitted that falling budget revenues could affect the republic's investment and development projects in the long run.

Two Tatar Police Officers Killed In Chechnya
Two traffic officers from Kazan, Eduard Sabizyanov and Marat Zalalyutdinov, were killed during what has been described as an antiterrorist operation in Iksan Yurt village near Gudermes, in the Chechen Republic. The officers died last weekend, the Interior Ministry press service reported on 19 November. Five more servicemen from Tatarstan were wounded, two of them slightly, in a successful effort to "destroy" four militants who were reportedly preparing an ambush in the village. Both of the deceased officers arrived in the rebel republic for service in early October.

Chally TPC Urges To Secure Tatarstan's Constitution
The Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center made a public appeal to Tatarstan's State Council deputies on 19 November, urging them to protect the original text of the republic's constitution and "disobey Moscow's demands."

TPC said deputies must not "commit sin" during the holy month of Ramadan by "cheating on their own people" by bringing the constitution into conformity with federal legislation. The Chally Muslim Youth Committee, Idel-Ural Society, Ittifaq Party, and members of the Tatar Writers Union reportedly supported the appeal.

Industrial Production Grows
Tatarstan's industrial output grew 6 percent year-on-year during the January-October period in 2001 to reach 162 billion rubles ($5.454 billion), Tatarinform reported on 19 November. Investments in the republic's economy also increased by 22.2 percent to total 40.4 billion rubles ($1.360 billion).

Lufthansa Increasing Flights Through Kazan
German national air carrier Lufthansa's manager for the Volga Region and Siberia, Ronald Schults, told President Mintimer Shaimiev on 19 November that his company will increase its flights through Kazan from two to three per week beginning on 1 December. Schults also said that despite the current drop in global demand, the number of people using Lufthansa's Kazan office is increasing. Lufthansa reportedly also plans to establish a Frankfurt-Kazan-Ufa route in the future.

Shaimiev Inaugurates New Brick Factory
President Mintimer Shaimiev attended the opening ceremony of a new brick factory in Shelanga, in the Yugary Oslan Region of Tatarstan, local media reported on 19 November. Shaimiev said Tatarstan purchases about 70 million bricks from neighboring regions every year because domestic producers have been unable to meet existing demand. The Shelanga factory's production capacity is about 15 million bricks per year.

Prime Minister Joins The Belated New School Presentation
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov participated in the presentation of a new school in the Biek Taw Region on 19 November, Tatarstan State TV reported. Minnikhanov said he launched the school's construction when he worked as a Biek Taw regional administration head in 1993-96.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Tatar Intellectuals Forum Said To Lack Intellectuals...
Sufyan Safuanov, Tatar philology dean at Bashkir State Pedagogical University, told the Tatar Intellectuals Forum in Bashkortostan on 17 November that "the average age of the present forum's participants makes me think it is the 'Tatar Pensioners Club.'" He also noted that "only a few of the forum's participants were actually educated enough to call themselves intellectuals." In Safuanov's words, while there are enough people speaking out about Tatar problems in Bashkortostan, there is no one able to propose any solutions for the existing situation.

...While There Is No Shortage Of Problems
Professor Reif Amirov, chairman of the Cultural Commission of Bashkortostan's Tatars Congress, said at the same forum that the major problems plaguing Tatars in Bashkortostan were the 2002 national census, the challenge of preserving Tatar language, and construction of the Tatar Nur Theater in Ufa.

International Agencies To Raise Bashkortostan's Credit Rating
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov and Finance Minister Foat Khantimirov returned from London -- where they visited Standard & Poor's and Moody's international rating agencies -- saying the agencies are hiking the republic's credit rating based on 2001 developments, local media reported on 19 November. The agencies reportedly will raise the republic's long-term credit rating from "B-" (stable) to "B" (positive).

Turkish State Minister Arrives In Ufa
Turkish State Minister Abdulkhalyuk Mehmet Chay arrived in Ufa on 19 November for a seven-day visit that will include meetings with Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov and Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov, a visit to a Turkish-Bashkir lyceum, and sightseeing in the Bashkir capital, the presidential press service reported.

Civic Groups To Push For Federal Ecology Ministry
Representatives of Bashkortostan participating in this week's civic forum initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin will most actively push for the re-establishment of a federal ecology ministry, reported on 19 November. Roughly 30 public organizations will represent the republic at the 21-22 November forum.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi