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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 26, 2001

26 November 2001
Deputies Trying To Preserve 'Status-Defining' Clauses In Constitution
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin said on 23 November that republican leaders "are trying to maintain the legitimacy of the status-defining paragraphs of the Tatarstan Constitution," Tatarstan Radio reported. Mukhametshin was commenting on major elements of parliamentary reform, according to which executive leaders will be unable to serve as deputies in the legislature or to serve in a locally elected post. Local elected functions will also be divided into city and raion councils, and people's representative bodies will be formed.

Under the reforms, the republican legislature will be unicameral with about 15 percent of its members selected from party lists. Mukhametshin stressed, however, that the current parliament will complete its current electoral term. The republic's president will lose his power to grant pardons or asylum, the State Council chairman added.

Russia Said Will Agree With OPEC On Oil Production
The head of the Duma's Mortgage Lending Development Commission and the leader of the Development of Entrepreneurship party, Ivan Grachev, said on 23 November there was no reason to revise or sequester the Russian 2002 budget. The Russian government will reach an agreement with OPEC and will maintain oil prices between $19 and $30 per barrel, he said. He added that a reduction in oil extraction of 100,000 to 200,000 barrels is technologically feasible for Russia. The Duma should calmly develop a general sequestration procedure, rather than doing it in an emergency-like manner. He added that the 2001 budget has been exceeded by 500 billion rubles, charging that the government have done "catastrophically" foolish things to get into such a situation.

Radio Orient To Broadcast In Russia
A new FM radio station, Radio Orient, will begin broadcasting in 2002 in Moscow and the regions of North Caucasus, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Siberia, and Kalmykia, among others, KM-Novosti reported on 23 November. Project managers said the station will be secular, and target various Russian people, including Muslims and Buddhists, and promote tolerance and mutual respect between the European and Oriental cultures, backers said. The station is expected to extend its broadcasting to other CIS countries.

Tatarstan Official Says Textbooks Must Represent True History Of Russia's Peoples
Rustem Shakhmuratov, Tatarstan's deputy representative to Russia, said Russian historical textbooks must present objective and scientifically proven events from the history of Russian peoples in order to maintain the principles of interethnic, inter-faith and civil peace in society, Tatar-inform reported on 23 November. His comments came at a seminar of representatives of the Russian republics to Moscow devoted to educational reform. Participants discussed a concept for the modernization of the Russian education system by 2010.

Merged Unity And Fatherland In Tatarstan Hold Conference
A conference of the Union of Unity and Fatherland in Tatarstan on 24 November approved moves by the union's second congress related to its transformation into a political party and draft program documents for the new body. Some 300 participants elected five delegates to the party's forthcoming extraordinary congress. Yurii Nazmeev, the leader of Unity in Tatarstan, told the conference that strengthening federal relations between Moscow and the regions will be one of main tasks of the new party.

One Million Residents Need Social Protection
Social Affairs Minister Klavdia Novikova said on 23 November that more than 1 million residents of Tatarstan are dependent on payments or other care from her ministry. Novikova said her ministry does not receive enough funding to fully implement a program to supply the disabled with special transport, prosthetics, and other care. She claimed that benefits for the needy will in no way be cut.

Tyumen Authorities Promote Tatar Education
The Tyumen Oblast's education and science department and the local Nationalities Committee held a conference to discuss the development of Tatar schools in the oblast's southern territories, reported on 24 November. Aisylu Makarova, the education department head in the Yalutorov Raion administration and the leader of the oblast's Tatar national-cultural autonomy, stressed the necessity to create conditions for Tatar children to study their native language. She also said Muslim organizations should be given the opportunity to teach Islamic culture.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov, Stepankov Discuss Relations Between Ufa, Nizhnii
Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov on 23 November met with the deputy presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Valentin Stepankov, to discuss social and economic developments in the district, the presidential press service reported. The two discussed joint efforts to improve law enforcement, relations between Moscow and federation members, and the harmonization of regional and federal legislation. They agreed that relations between district and republican officials are constructive and business-like, so problems are solved quickly and efficiently.

Stepankov said Bashkortostan remains one of the more economically, politically, and socially stable regions in Russia, saying other territorial entities should note its experience.

Nemtsov Says Chechens Treated 'Like Enemies'...
Visiting Ufa on 21-22 November, Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader Boris Nemtsov met with President Rakhimov to discuss the activities of the Duma and regional legislative bodies, federalism, and the improvement of relations with Moscow and Russian bodies. The SPS leader also met with Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin.

Nemtsov told a press conference in Bashinform that the Chechen people are treated worse than second-class citizens, even as enemies. Humanitarian aid is delivered to Chechens as a rule by foreign organizations, he said. Nemtsov said the Chechen problem can be resolved only through political negotiations, adding that President Rakhimov approved of this approach during their meeting.

...And Presents Grants To Bashkortostan Students
SPS leader Nemtsov also visited Bashkir University to hand out grants to 40 students who took part in the first and second Chechen wars, Bashinform reported. Under the project, students in Moscow and St. Petersburg are paid 2,000 rubles ($67), while those in Russian regions receive 1,000 rubles each month.

Nemtsov called for military reform under which the term of military service would be reduced from two years to six months, and servicemen would be given the right to fulfill their service under a contract or to enter higher educational institutions on special terms. Nemtsov said his faction in the Duma is promoting a draft law on alternative civil service which calls for permitting such service without regard to ideological, religious, or other reasons. Nemtsov claimed his party is equipping 1,000 schools in Russia, including in Bashkortostan's Sterletamaq, with computers connected them to the Internet.

Turkish Minister Continues Visit To Bashkortostan
Continuing his one-week visit to Bashkortostan, Turkish State Minister Abdulhalyuq Mehmet Chai on 22 November attended the opening ceremony for a new wing of the Krasnousolskii health resort in the Gafuri Raion, a project that was constructed with the participation of Turkish companies, Bashinform reported. The next day, Turkish delegation members met with Talgat Tadjuddin, who is the supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS. The delegation also met students of the Bashkir-Turkish lyceum and students from Turkey studying in Bashkortostan.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova