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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 13, 2000

13 November 2000
Kazan Mayor To Discuss Sacred Icon With Patriarch
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov and Patriarch Aleksii II will discuss the future of the Kazan icon of the Divine Mother which is currently at the Vatican, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 November. Iskhakov told reporters in Moscow the same day that Tatarstan's authorities will only act on the issue in consent with the Patriarchy. Earlier this month, the mayor said that during a meeting with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, an agreement was reached to return the historical icon to Tatarstan's capital. Patriarch Aleksii expressed bewilderment as to how the issue could be discussed without the participation of the Orthodox Church. Iskhakov reported that the Vatican, though it expressed an intention to return the sacred object to its motherland, still has not given an official answer to the appeal by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev for it to be returned.

Refakh Unhappy With Yedinstvo
The political movement Refakh held a conference in Moscow on 8 November called "Are there any Wahhabis in the Duma," Tatar-inform reported. The briefing was devoted to reports in the Russian media about the decision by the Yedinstvo party head to exclude Refakh leader Abdulvakhit Niyazov because of his Muslim beliefs and sympathy for Wahhabis. The co-chairmen of Refakh, Vyacheslav Polosin and Valeriya Porokhova (an author of the Russian-translation of the Koran), commented on relations between Yedinstvo and Refakh and on the "Islamophobia" being promoted in the Russian media. Porokhova stressed Russian reporters writing about Islam are often ignorant. Porokhova noted that if they were familiar with works by such Russian philosophers as Vladimir Solovyev and Nikolai Berdyaev, they wouldn't talk about such absurdities as the "threat of Islam."

Kazan Militia Burns Drugs
Kazan interior bodies destroyed some 300 kilos of marijuana, Tatar Radio reported on 10 November. The five million rubles worth of drugs were confiscated in a criminal case that officials have been investigating for a year. Tatarstan's interior minister, Asgat Safarov, was in charge of the operation. Safarov told Tatar Radio on 10 November that the Supreme Court of the republic sentenced a leader of a criminal group to 18 years in prison, and some of its members to jail sentences ranging from nine to 13 years. Safarov said that investigations are currently ongoing against several criminal groups that bring heroin into the republic.

Tatarstan To Celebrate Millennium
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev signed a decree on preparations for celebrating the new millennium, Tatar Radio reported on 10 November. An organizing committee headed by Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov was created by the document. Many believe the third millennium a.d. begins in 2001 instead of 2000.

By Gulnara Khasanova