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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 10, 2000

10 March 2000
Russian Duma Deputy From Tatarstan Visits Chechnya
A Russian State Duma deputy representing Tatarstan, Fandas Safiullin, told the republican media in a phone interview from Moscow on 9 March about his recent visit to Chechnya. Safiullin previously worked as a republican State Council deputy and was chairman of the nationalist Tatar Public Center. He said he was "shocked by the enormous devastation and total absence of operating schools" in Chechnya. Safiullin said that he heard a statement by the new federal administration head in Gudermes who said that "Chechen refugees should be destroyed because they breed future bandits." After repeating her statement, Saifiullin said that if "things continue like this, war in Chechnya will never end."

Putin's Headquarters In Kazan Holds Meeting
Employees of the Kazan election campaign headquarters of acting President Vladimir Putin met on 9 March to discuss ways to promote their candidate. Officials admitted that the "most difficult" electorate lived in rural regions. It is reported that the rural population in Tatarstan does not support Putin because of the military campaign in Chechnya.

Russian Muslims Unite To Support Putin
The national political movement Refah, which unites Muslims from across Russia, ended its congress on 6 March in Moscow. The congress gathered about 400 delegates from 73 regions of Russia including the chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Spiritual Board, Gusman khazrat Iskhaq. Guest delegations from 20 Muslim countries, Russian State Duma deputies, and Russian regional officials reportedly also attended the congress. Refah restated its support for acting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the upcoming election, suggesting that he appoint the federal minister of emergencies as a "vice president," a post that currently does not exist. Refah assigned a number of its members "to inform the acting president about Refah's support and their views on ways of settling the situation in Chechnya." Refah declared that it considers the pro-government bloc Unity and the Assembly of Peoples in Russia, headed by Ramazan Abdulatipov, to be its "allies." It asked Putin to mark the 1400th anniversary of Islam in Russia "on the federal level" in order to gain favor for the current government among the millions of Muslims across Russia.

Tatarstan's Government Goes Hi-Tech
Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers endorsed a decree on 9 March on the use of electronic means in the submission and recording of statistical data. Diskettes are expected to replace paper documents in order to simplify and lower the cost of data collection, processing, and distribution. The decree will affect governmental bodies, as well as state-owned and private enterprises.

Kazan Streets To Be Renamed On Victory Day
Thirty-four streets in Tatarstan's capital will get new names on Victory Day, which is celebrated on 9 May, the city administration announced on 9 March. The streets will reportedly be named after Soviet World War II heroes from Tatarstan. Fifty streets bearing the names of World War II veterans from Tatarstan will be redecorated with over 1,500 new trees and additional illumination.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi