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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 23, 1999

23 February 1999
Speaker On Formation Of Regional Political Parties
Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farid Mukhametshin, said in an interview with Tatar-inform that new regional political blocs may be formed by Russian republics for the next elections in order to defend the interests of national-territorial entities. Mukhametshin was commenting on the electoral bloc Golos Rossii (Russia's Voice), which was founded last week by 20 Russian governors. He said regional leaders are forced to create their own parties and movements because regional leaders have such little influence in State Duma elections and because regional representatives in Russian parties have little chance of being elected. Mukhametshin said regional leaders are attractive candidates because they have not compromised themselves, are familiar with the political and economic problems of the regions, and usually don't seek federal posts.

Republican Official Comments On Environmental Bill
Asgat Gabaidullin, Tatarstan's first deputy minister for environment and natural resources, said the ability to conduct a public investigation is the main difference between a republican draft law on the environment and a Russian one. The draft law was passed by the State Council on first reading last week. Gabaidullin said in an interview with Tatar-inform that the bill allows public organizations, citizens, and local government bodies to become decision-makers in the economic development of their land. Gabaidullin said no Tatar cities are on the list of Russia's hundred most hazardous ecological sites.

Slovak Businessmen To Visit Kazan
A Slovak business delegation headed by the counselor of the Slovak embassy in Moscow, Jozef Sandtner, is to visit Kazan on 24-26 February. The visitors will meet with representatives of Tatarstan's Trade and Economic Cooperation Ministry and the Commerce and Industry Chamber to discuss trade prospects, Tatar radio reported.

Agrarian Youth Organization Formed
An Agrarian Youth Association has been formed in Tatarstan to protect the interests of rural people and to elevate the role of farmers in the social and economic life of Tatarstan, Tatar-inform reported. The associations' 30-some district branches will be involved in the promotion of youth employment, entrepreneurship, and the protection of the rights of rural youth.

Azatlyq Director Given Cultural Award
The director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service, Ferit Agi, has been awarded the Megrifetche (Enlightener) prize by Tatarstan's Hadi Atlasi fund, Tatar-inform reported on 22 February. Agi won the award for his involvement in the development of ethnic culture and art, more specifically for a series of broadcasts about Petr Grigorenko, a defender of the rights of Crimean Tatars.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova