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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 21, 1999

21 January 1999
Tatarstan's State Council Sends Appeal To Bashkortostan's Parliament
The Tatarstan State Council sent an appeal to Bashkortostan's State Assembly asking it to reconsider the draft law on state languages in Bashkortostan. The appeal was approved by the State Council at a 20 January session. The controversial draft law, which would make Bashkir and Russian official state languages, is to have a second reading on 21 January, Tatar radio and television reported. The law has caused a negative reaction in Tatarstan, and many see it as a restriction on the rights of Bashkortostan's Tatar population, which is larger than the Bashkir population. Russians constitute the largest ethnic group in Bashkortostan.

The chairman of Tatarstan's State Council, Farid Mukhametshin, said during the session: "Many republics that adopted laws on languages (that left out certain languages) subsequently had large social and political complications. Perhaps our appeal will support and help the authorities in Bashkortostan to avoid these problems. There was once a time when pressure was exerted upon the authorities in Tatarstan to designate Tatar as the only state language in Tatarstan Republic. We hope that the respectful appeal to our colleagues in Bashkortostan asking them to take into account our opinion to preserve the language of the Tatar population will help the deputies consider the question on the second reading."

Parliament Discusses Draft Laws On Environment, Others
Several draft laws were discussed on 20 January in a session of Tatarstan's permanent parliament. Draft laws on official responsibility for violating environmental laws, on beekeeping, and on the state symbols of Tatarstan were considered. Judges for several of the republic's city and regional courts were also elected, state media reported.

Defense Industry Firms Taken Over By Government
The seven largest defense industry enterprises in Tatarstan have been put under the control of the republican government, "Kommersant" reported. The companies will reportedly be converted to produce consumer goods. The firms taken over by the government are: the Kazan Gorbunov Air Industrial Association, the Radiopribor state plant, the Yeshel Uzen design office, the Kazan Kalinin mechanical engineering plant, the Kazan radio-technical research institute, the Sokol design office, and the Yeshel Uzen Gorky shipbuilding plant.

The prime minister of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, said on Tatar television that "Until now no one came from Moscow to solve the problems of the defense industry enterprises. Therefore it is necessary to look for different ways, including closer cooperation with (Moscow) to more effectively use the potential of these enterprises. The enterprises fill Russian defense industry orders. We don't want our actions to prevent these enterprises from receive those federal defense industry orders. The question, 'Who do these enterprises belong to?' does not matter to me. The main problem we must solve is to make these enterprises work -- maintaining production so that we can pay employees their wages."

Shaimiev Holds Talks With Nazarbayev
The presidents of Tatarstan and Kazakhstan, Mintimer Shaimiev and Nursultan Nazarbayev, met behind closed doors on 20 January in Astana, Tatar state radio reported. The president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaimiev, attended the inauguration ceremony of the Kazakh president earlier in the day.

Compiled by G.Khasanova