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Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 7, 2000

7 July 2000
Tatarstan's Muslim Leader Comments On Accusations
The chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, Gusman khazrat Iskhaqi, responded on 7 July to comments made by Talgat Tajutdin, the chief of Muslim Religious Board in Russia and the European part of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Tajutdin told Russian Public Television's (ORT) "Zdes I Seychas" program on 5 July that Muslim schools in Tatarstan are supported by radical Islamists abroad and have prepared suicide bombers for Chechen rebel groups, and that a radical Muslim group of Wahhabis was planning to seize the Bolgar mosque in Kazan. Gusman khazrat told the republican press on 7 July that "Talgat Tajutdin did not like Tatarstan from the very first days when the republic formed its own religious board." Gusman khazrat claimed that the religious board managed to promote Islam in Tatarstan by erecting hundreds of new mosques and Muslim schools in the republic. He said that "obviously Arab Muslims preferred to stop sponsoring Talgat Tajutdin by choosing to support some definitive Muslim organizations of Russia."

Gusman said Russian President Vladimir Putin asked him whether mosques in Tatarstan were constructed with Arab financial support earlier this year. Gusman said that his reply was "Yes they are. So what? These mosques and madrasahs will remain in Tatarstan. Our own Tatar mullahs will preach there and our own Tatar boys will study our own Sunni Islam there." Gusman khazrat said Putin agreed with his point. In the same statement for the press, the chairman of Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board refuted Tajutdin's accusations as "totally untrue."

Tatarstan To Have Own "Peacekeepers"
Tatarstan's branch of UNESCO's Culture of Peace Institute held its first graduation ceremony on 6 July. Some 120 Kazan university students received certificates from the institute's International Conflict Center. After their one year of studies, students will reportedly work on preserving and recreating historical places in the republic and promote Tatar culture in other Russian regions.

Tuberculosis Carriers To Be Freed From Tatarstan's Prisons
Tatarstan's Ministry of Health announced on 7 July that in accordance with a federal amnesty, about 300 people infected with tuberculosis will be freed from Tatarstan's prisons. The amnesty reportedly affects convicts who are war veterans or who have received governmental. According to medics this action will boost the number of those infected in the republic from the current 8,000 because most former prisoners carry an "active phase" of the infection. According to ministry officials, they will appeal for more funding from the republican government to prevent the spread of the disease, because "the amnesty came absolutely unexpectedly."

By Iskender Nurmi