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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 17, 2000

17 March 2000
Tatarstan's Muslim Leader In Moscow For Putin Meeting
Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin said on 15 March that Russia is a common home for both Muslims and Christians, Tatarstan's press reported. Putin made his comments during a meeting with leaders of Russian Muslim Spiritual Boards at the Kremlin devoted to the Muslim holiday of Qurban-bairam. Gusman khazrat Iskhakov, Tatarstan's mufti and head of the republican Muslim Spiritual Board, also participated in the meeting. Putin thanked the muftis for their "courageous position aimed at backing the state." He introduced to the visitors Russian State Property Minister Farit Gazizullin and said he had "specially invited today one of the key ministers -- who is Muslim -- so that you could address to him all of the criticism for the government that you have."

Putin To Visit Tatarstan Next Week
A campaign visit of acting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tatarstan is scheduled for 20 March, Tatar Television reported on 16 March. Putin's trip will begin with a visit to the republic's second city of Chally and then he is expected to come to Kazan. According to a survey taken at the beginning of the month in Tatarstan, 45 percent of likely voters in Kazan and some 39 percent in the republic's other cities and towns will vote for Putin. In rural districts, some 44.5 percent of voters support him. Putin's popularity in the republic is somewhat lower than it is in Russia as a whole.

Central Election Committee To Observe Election In Tatarstan
Members of the Russian Central Election Committee will monitor the 26 March presidential poll in Tatarstan along with Daghestan and some other Russian territorial entities, the daily "Vremya i Dengi" reported on 16 March. The chairman of the CEC, Aleksandr Veshnyakov, was cited as saying that less foreign observers are expected at the upcoming election than were at December's parliamentary elections. He said, however, that each of them will be given all possibilities to gather information without hindrance.

Russian Mufti Calls For Donations For Chechen Refugees
The leader of the Muslim Spiritual Board of European Russia, Ravil Gainutdin, congratulated Muslims on their day of sacrifice, Qurban bairam, Tatar Television reported on 16 March. He also called on Muslims to make special donations for Chechen refugees.

"Izvestia" Editor Visits Tatarstan
The chief editor of the daily "Izvestia," Mikhail Kozhokin, visited Tatarstan at the invitation of republican officials, Tatar Television reported on 16 March. Farit Mukhametshin, the chairman of Tatarstan's State Council, met him in Chally. Kozhokin along with the heads of other Russian media outlets are due to participate in a roundtable titled "The Role of the Media in the Presidential Election," to be held in Kazan on 17 March. Recently, "Izvestia" published articles on Tatarstan which claimed that Wahhabism was spread widely in Tatarstan's Muslim madrasah schools and that ethnic tensions are likely to rise in the republic due to a planned switch to the Latin alphabet.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova