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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 5, 2000

5 December 2000
Shaimiev Says Urban Renewal Program To Continue
Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, visited the Shafutdinovs family at the newly constructed Azino 1 area in Kazan on 4 December. The family recently moved into the apartment within the framework of Tatarstan's urban renewal housing program. Shaimiev told the Shrafutdinovs that he is aware of the importance of preserving the program and also "paying attention" to the "young family protection program, which grants loans to young people for buying homes."

Later that day, Shaimiev told reporters that "whoever becomes president of Tatarstan, this program is sacred and must be continued. Over the last several years, 18,000 families have moved into comfortable housing and more than 60,000 people started living in normal conditions. Some 12 to 14,000 more families are still to be moved. Those who are in line must not be in despair, as the program is being fulfilled not only in Kazan, but in the entire republic."

A number of Tatarstan's industries refused to pay the special republican tax collected in order to fund the program this past summer. Later, attempts to sue Tatarstan's government for improper taxation and violating federal laws were unsuccessful and on 8 September Shaimiev suggested at a governmental meeting that those who disagreed with the tax should work outside of Tatarstan.

In a statement for the press on 4 December, the director of the state's housing fund, Talgat Abdullin, said: "this year the discipline of paying into the fund has improved. Today we have enough money to pay the builders as was planned for 2000. There are also some resources for continuing the program next year."

Kazan Mayor On Icon Talks With Russian Patriarch
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov commented on the results of his recent meeting with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksei II, during a press conference on 4 December. Iskhakov said that Aleksei was disappointed that the mayor and Rafael Khakimov, adviser to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, met with Pope John Paul II without consulting the Russian Orthodox Church. Aleksei reportedly stated his unhappiness that Iskhakov agreed to organize the construction of a Catholic church in Kazan as a goodwill gesture for returning the sacred icon of Kazan, the Savior's Mother, from Rome. Iskhakov told Aleksei that the action was justified because Muslim, Orthodox Christian, and the Protestants in Kazan have had all of their old places of worship returned to them but that it was not possible for the Catholics to get their former church back because it is being used by the Aircraft Institute as part of its dynamic air tube lab. Although Aleksei reportedly agreed that the icon should be returned to Kazan, it is still unclear when this will happen.

Law On State Languages Violated
A regional school conference held by the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Tatars in the Yashel Uzen region of Tatarstan on 4 December acknowledged that there were numerous violations of the republican law on state languages in the regional education system. According to Congress officials and local teachers, many of the local schools failed to implement the law on teaching both the Tatar and Russian languages due to a lack of funds. Other regions in Tatarstan reportedly have similar problems.

By Iskender Nurmi