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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 28, 2000

28 June 2000
Comments On Bin Laden Statement
On 28 June, responses from Tatarstan's religious leaders and officials to the recent statement by the internationally terrorist, Saudi Arabian billionaire Osama Bin Laden, who called for a jihad (holy war) against Christians and Jews. The Muslim Spiritual Board (MSB) of Tatarstan issued a public statement saying that "multiethnic and poly-confessional society was historically formed in our country and there's unity of nationalities representing two major and other confessions. It took these religions a long time to establish a peaceful system of values and balance of power." The MSB condemned Bin Laden's call for all international extremists "aiming at the destruction of understanding between people and igniting senseless bloody conflicts."

Orthodox Christian Archimandrite Vsevolod, vicar of the Raifa Monastery, told the daily "Vremya i Dengi" on 28 June that he considered Bin Laden's statement to be "sad, because after such statements the amount of evil in this world increases." Concerning relations between Christians and Muslims in Tatarstan, Vsevolod said that "we live in the same land, practically every Orthodox Christian family has Muslim relatives or friends. All problems connected with nationalism are solved fast and wisely."

The deputy chairman of Tatarstan's Security Committee (KGB), Ilgiz Minnulin, told the press the same day that "statements of this kind are made on a regular basis. This informational pressure is aimed at creating uncertainty among people. Every such statement proves the necessity of uniting different countries for the joint struggle against international terrorism."

Bashkortostan To Adjust Its Laws, Constitution To Suit Moscow
The speaker of Bashkortostan's parliament, Konstantin Tolkachev, said on 27 June that a "bilateral commission on adjusting Bashkortostan's Constitution to federal laws will be created in the nearest future." Tolkachev said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bashkortostan's president, Murtaza Rakhimov, reached this decision during a meeting at the Sabantuy celebration in Kazan on 24 June. Tolkachev said that "it wouldn't be really correct to speak about bringing Bashkortostan's laws in conformity with federal legislation." Tolkachev noted that in 1993, when there was a poll on the Russian Constitution in Bashkortostan, over 60 percent of voters did not support it. He emphasized that it was "necessary to understand the mentality of Bashkirs, who will not refuse their own conquests obtained in the times of Ivan the Terrible."

By Iskender Nurmi