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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 5, 1999

5 January 1999
Tatars In Bashkortostan Rally For Official Recognition Of Language
Tatar public organizations in Baskortostan met to plan activities aimed at defending the status of Tatar as an official language in the Republic of Bashkortostan, where legislators are considering a draft bill that would designate only Bashkir and Russian as official state languages. Representatives at the meeting decided to send an open letter to Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and the presidents of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, Murtaza Rakhimov and Mintimer Shaimiev, requesting that they do their utmost to preserve the rights of the 1.5 million Tatars in Bashkortostan (over 30 percent of the population). Before the meeting, members of the Tatar intelligentsia and well-known artists and actors addressed President Rakhimov, asking him to maintain both the Tatar and Bashkir languages at the same official level.

The Executive Committee of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan
(TCB) told Bashkir legislators that passing legislation on state languages that excluded the language spoken by nearly one-third of a republic's population was a violation of democratic principles. The TCB has offered to hold a referendum on the controversial legislation, though the final formulation of the questions is not yet done. On 22 December, the president of the World Congress of Tatars, Indus Tagirov, sent a letter to President Rakhimov and State Assembly Chairman Rif Latipov requesting that they consider the rights of all ethnic groups in Bashkortostan in regards to supporing the draft law. Tagirov stated in his letter that Tatars in Bashkortostan are concerned about the unwillingness of Bashkir legislators to classify Tatar as a state language. On 12 January, representatives of the World Congress of Tatars are expected to join in a meeting by the Tatar Congress in Ufa.

The draft law on state languages in Bashkortostan was passed on first reading and is to be considered again by the people's deputies of Bashkortostan. On 5 January, Tatar organizations began placing signs near the State Assembly in Ufa championing official status for Tatar.

Tatarstan Delivers Aid To Yakutia
On New Year's Eve, the Tatar government sent a shipment of clothes, footwear, technical instruments, and two mobile electric power stations to the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) to help alleviate the consequences of a disastrous flooding. The republican press reported that all of the goods sent were produced in Tatarstan.

KamAZ Team Wins In Paris-Dakkar Rally
Republican television reported that on 3 January a KamAZ racing team won the that day's stage of the Paris to Dakkar racing tournament.

Compiled by I.Nurmi