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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 30, 1999

30 March 1999
Official Sees Similarities In Tatarstan, Kosovo Autonomy Deals
Tatarstan's representative in France, Iskender Yusupov, told an RFE/RL correspondent on 29 March that Tatarstan's foreign policy objectives are his top priority when looking at the crisis in Yugoslavia. Yusupov said Moscow, Paris, and Kazan are following the situation there with "differing interests." He added that it was necessary to stop the military actions in Yugoslavia and "resolve the conflict at the negotiating table," and mentioned the experience of Tatarstan's president, Mintimer Shaimiev, in mediating Russian-Chechen talks. Yusupov noted that "Kosovar Albanians agreed to receive limited autonomy" and that "this model was similar" to Tatarstan's position within the Russian Federation.

Russian Muslim Leader Fomenting Discord In Tatarstan?
The Muslim leader of central Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin, condemning the actions of the United States in Yugoslavia during an address to Islamic believers on the occasion of the Kurban Bayram holiday on 27 March in Moscow. His speech, in Russian, was broadcast by Russian Public Television (ORT) the same day. On 29 March, the Efir TV company in Kazan quoted Tatar Muslims saying they disagreed with Gaynutdin's statement, which "should not be made on the behalf of all Muslims in Russia." In an interview with Efir TV, Zaki Zaynullin, the chairman of the Tatar Public Center (TPC), accused Muslim leaders in Tatarstan of "being passive." He claimed that the TPC has begun signing up volunteers to take part in the "combat operations wearing NATO colors."

Tatarstan Airliners Merge To Survive
President Mintimer Shaimiev assessed the operation of Tatarstan's airlines as "malfunctioning" during a Cabinet of Ministers meeting on 29 March. Shaimiev criticized the spontaneous privatization of Tatarstan's branch of the former Russian Aeroflot company, saying that it destroyed ties with its local affiliates. Shaimiev announced that separate, state-owned airlines in Tatarstan would gradually merge to form a joint-stock company partially owned by the republic. Kazan Air Company and the Nizhnekamsk airport will initiate the association of the companies. Government officials acknowledged the poor economic state of the republic's air carriers, which must compete with the private Aerostan, IDF, and Tulpar companies.

Tatarstan's Representatives Hold Annual Meeting
All of Tatarstan's plenipotentiary representatives, including those posted in other Russian regions, gathered for an annual meeting on 30 March in Kazan. The officials discussed the republic's foreign economic activities in 1998 and their plans for this year. An RFE/RL correspondent reports that the new Trade and International Cooperation Ministry headed by Hafiz Salikhov would run foreign economic relations for Tatarstan's representative offices. The Foreign Affairs Department within the republic's presidency, headed by Timur Akulov, will be in charge of Tatarstan's foreign political affairs.

EU Information Center Established In Kazan
President Shaimiev met with the ambassador of the European Commission in Moscow, Otto Krkhan, on 29 March, the republican press reported. Shaimiev agreed that Tatarstan would share EU experiences in developing common agricultural markets with neighboring regions. Krkhan and Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov also attended the opening ceremony of the EU information and documentation center at Kazan State University. Krkhan told reporters that he evaluated the efforts made by Tatarstan's government to attract foreign investments "positively."

Republic Citizens Volunteering For Duty In Yugoslavia
The coordinator of Tatarstan's branch of the radical Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), Vladimir Petrov, told the press on 29 March that four volunteers for service in Yugoslavia were sent from Tatarstan to party headquarters in Moscow. They are expected join the a volunteer group formed by the LDPR for providing "humanitarian assistance to Serbia." LDPR headquarters representative Nikolai Denisov confirmed that a total of 19 volunteers from Tatarstan had signed up for duty in Yugoslavia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi