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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 19, 1999

19 January 1999
Shaimiev Says Russia Alright Despite Yeltsin's Illness
The president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, said people should not overdramatize the situation in Moscow after the disclosure of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's latest illness, Interfax reported. In an interview on 18 January, Shaimiev said he believes that Yeltsin's illness will not greatly influence the situation in Russia and that the efforts by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov during Yeltsin's previous absences show that he is capable of keeping the economic and political situation under control. Shaimiev called the attempts by the Russian State Duma to impeach Yeltsin "immoral" and stated his opposition to the lower house's proposed amendments to the constitution. He said such initiatives were unrealistic and added: "the constitution demands new amendments, but they should not be made now, since there is less than a year left until the next parliamentary elections. The constitution should be amended," he said "after the new Duma is elected and the presidential elections are over."

Tatar Language Issue Still Unresolved In Bashkortostan
A commission on the affairs of nationalities, religious organizations, and local governments of Bashkortostan's State Assembly held a meeting with historians, linguists, and representatives of public organizations in Bashkortostan on 15 January. The attendees met to discuss the controversial draft law on languages which stipulates that Bashkir and Russian be named the state languages of Bashkortostan. Participants at the meeting agreed to protect the official status of Bashkir and Russian while providing a different status for languages spoken by other nationalities living in the republic. On January 16 and 17 the Tatar Public Center (TPC) of Bashkortostan celebrated its 10th anniversary and held meetings devoted to promote its campaign for Tatar to be included as an official state language in Bashkortostan. The TPC's reasoning is based on the fact that Tatar is spoken by about 33 percent of Bashkortostan's population. TPC members have urged the government to hold a referendum on the issue.

Wage Arrears In Yar Challi
Republican television reports that wage arrears to state employees and pensioners in Yar Challi, the home of KamAZ automotive works, has reached 106 million rubles. By comparison, the unpaid wages and pensions in Kazan currently stand at about 67.62 million rubles, even though Kazan's population is twice as big as that of Yar Challi.

Bank Transactions In Euro Possible
The Ak Bars Bank of Tatarstan began opening currency accounts for Euro-owner customers on 1 January 1999 when it opened corresponding Euro accounts in the Kommerzbank (Germany), the Bank National de Paris (France), and Midland Bank (Great Britain). The Sberbank Tatarstan (Tatarstan's savings bank) and the Kazansky Bank plan to add this feature in the near future.

Tatar Team Finishes Second In Paris-Dakar Race
KamAZ racing teams took both the second and seventh places among racing trucks at the Paris-Dakar off-road race. The KamAZ team was about 30 minutes behind the winning Tatra team from the Czech Republic.

Compiled by I. Nurmi