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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 6, 2001

6 December 2001
Parliamentary Speaker Calls For Business As Usual Despite Russian Court Ruling
State Council Chairman Farit Mukhametshin, speaking to Tatar-inform agency on 5 December, said the republican legislature would continue its work and amend Tatarstan law, including the constitution. He was responding to the previous day's ruling by the Russian Supreme Court, which deemed a number of articles in the republic's constitution as violating federal laws. Mukhametshin stressed that "republican state bodies will retain their functions during the transition period even if the corresponding laws are abolished" at Moscow's request.

Defense Minister Praises Kazan's Management Of Defense Industry...
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited Kazan on 5 December while traveling through the Volga-Ural military district. He inspected Kazan's aircraft plant, where local defense manufacturers exhibited their wares -- including but not exclusively high-precision military equipment, machine-gun ammunition, and army boots. Ivanov expressed strong interest in Kazan-produced combat aircraft like the Tu-160 and Tu-22, and civilian aircraft like the Tu-214, Mi-17, and Ansat helicopters. Ivanov was apparently undeterred when an Ansat helicopter's door fell off during a presentation flight for the minister.

Ivanov later told reporters in the "Kazan Kremlin" that Tatarstan was "one of few islands of stability in Russia, [which has] managed to develop its production capacities without wasting extra [resources]."

...And Says 2002 Budget Makes Room For New Military Production
Referring to federal defense policy, Ivanov said the 2002 budget contains 28 billion rubles ($936 million) in expenditures for the production of new military equipment. He also said that Russia "didn't intend to deploy its armed forces in Afghanistan because...for our country that would be the same as Vietnam was for America."

President Pledges Food Aid To Afghanistan
President Mintimer Shaimiev, who was also present at Ivanov's briefing, said his republic planned to begin a humanitarian aid program for Afghanistan by sending 100 tons of sugar and 100 tons of flour to Afghans. He stressed the importance of such activities, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Kazan Court Lifts Charges From Tatar Movement Activists
Kazan's Vakhitov district court on 5 December rejected charges against a group of Tatar activists accused by prosecutors of "urging the creation of an alternative government in Tatarstan." During the Day of Mourning on 14 October devoted to the fall of Kazan in 1552, a group including Rafael Mukhammatdinov made speeches urging the defense of Tatar statehood through the formation of an alternative government. Prosecutors used videotape made by the federal security service to investigate whether speakers violated Tatarstan's law on public assembly.

Tatar Congress Delegation Tours Turkey
A delegation from the World Tatar Congress led by Executive Committee Chairman Indus Tahirov is visiting Istanbul, Ankara, and Eskishehir in Turkey to meet with local Tatar communities and high-ranking Turkish officials, RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau reported on 5 December.

Former Official Appointed To Major Tatarstan Bank
Ilgiz Khairullin, a former prime minister and an adviser to Tatarstan's president, was appointed head of the Kazan branch of Zenith Bank, reported on 5 December. Zenith has been active in transactions with Tatneft oil company in Elmet. A graduate of the Kazan Pedagogical Institute, Khairullin is reported to have no financial education and in previous posts was in charge of media, education, culture, and other social issues.

Republic Marks Moscow Battle Anniversary
The Tatarstan military commissioner's office reported on 5 December that about 10,000 republican residents took part in the military defense of Moscow in 1941-42. Some 457 veterans from all regions of Tatarstan celebrated the anniversary of that key battle for Moscow, after which Soviet troops began their advance against the German army.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Federal Court Orders Bashkirenergo To Pay Russia's UES
The Russian Supreme Court rejected arguments by Bashkirenergo and ordered it to pay Russian United Energy Systems (UES) a subscriber's fee, reported on 4 December. The court confirmed the power of the Russian Federation's energy commission to set that fee. Bashkirenergo, alongside Tatenergo and Irkutskenergo, Russia's independent energy companies, had refused to pay UES. Bashkirenergo owes UES 1.3 billion rubles ($43.5 million), 10 million rubles of which it paid after republican bailiffs seized property. The agency commented that Bashkirenergo is the most vulnerable of these "obstinate" companies, as UES owns a 21.2 percent stake in the company. UES, which controls Russia's electricity grid, was left with just three representatives on the Bashkirenergo board after a fall shareholders meeting cut UES's board representation in half.

Rumors Abound Of Early Presidential Election
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 5 December cited an unofficial source as saying that presidential elections may be held in Bashkortostan in the first half of 2002. The head of Moscow's Federation and Civil Society Institute, Aleksandr Arinin, reportedly is pushing for pre-term elections and seeking to run for the post. In past presidential elections, Bashkortostan's Central Electoral Commission has refused to register Arinin as a presidential candidate. Arinin was due to arrive in Ufa on 5 December.

Tatarstan's Education Ministry Promotes Tatar Lessons In Bashkortostan
Alsu Yusipova, an official within Tatarstan's Education Ministry, told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 5 December that her ministry is holding a seminar in Ufa on 5-8 December with Bashkortostan's Education Ministry to discuss the implementation of mutual agreements on the development of national education. The Tatarstan delegation is to visit Tatar schools to inspect the teaching of Tatar language there. Yusipova said that arranging seminars in Tatar-populated regions is a general practice of Tatarstan's Education Ministry, noting that such meetings have already been held in Udmurtia, Perm Oblast, and Sverdlovsk Oblast. She stressed that all Tatar schools outside Tatarstan, including in Bashkortostan, face difficulties, including a lack of textbooks and programs.

District Justice Official Visits Ufa
Nikolai Novikov, an official from the Russian Justice Ministry's Volga district board, visited Ufa to survey the activities of local courts and bailiffs, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 5 December.

Bashkirs In Kurgan Oblast To Hold Congress
Representatives of Bashkortostan to the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, and Kurgan oblasts, along with the heads of the World Bashkirs Congress, met to prepare for a congress of Bashkirs living in the Kurgan Oblast, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 5 December. Some 6,500 Bashkirs reside in the oblast's Elmen district, but the Bashkir language is taught in just six local schools, participants complained.

Bashkortostan Scientist Praised For Human Rights Defense
Russian Ombudsman Oleg Mironov honored Zarshat Yenikeev, the director of the Law Institute at Bashkir University, for his work "for the defense of human rights," Bashinform reported on 5 December. Yenikeev became Bashkortostan's first-ever recipient of that award.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova