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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 5, 1999

5 April 1999
Tatar Public Center Hails NATO Actions...
In a speech at a Tatar Public Center (TPC) congress in Kazan on 3 April, TPC chairman Zaki Zaynullin condemned the policies of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic "against the Albanian population of Yugoslavia." Zaynullin said his nationalist organization supported NATO's actions against Serbian military forces. He stressed that there was "one and one point only" with which he agreed with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, and that was when Shaimiev stated during a Federation Council session that Russia went "too far in supporting Milosevic" and said that Russia "shouldn't be involved in this conflict." Leaders of the TPC's Yar Challi branch said they were continuing to sign up volunteers for duty in Yugoslavia, "to fight wearing NATO's colors." Zaynullin sharply criticized the statement of Ravil Gaynutdin, the Muslim leader of central Russia, who spoke publicly against the air strikes in Yugoslavia (see "Tatar-Bashkir Report," 30 March 1999). He said the TPC "would turn Gaynutdin from the door if he visited Kazan."

...Argues For A Monolingual Tatarstan And Accuses Rakhimov Of "Ethnic Egoism"
At the same congress, Zaynullin claimed that the rights of the Tatar-speaking population in Tatarstan were being infringed. He said that the future goal of the TPC is to promote the idea of a monolingual republic, where Tatar would be the only official language. Commenting on the current "linguistic situation" in Bashkortostan, Zaynullin said that President Murtaza Rakhimov has pursued a pro-Bashkir policy based on "ethnic-egoism."

Tatar President Pledges Support For Private Businesses
President Mintimer Shaimiev attended a congress of Tatarstan's private business owners on 2 April, the republican press reported. Shaimiev said in an address that the financial crisis in Russia, which started in August 1998, stalled the republic's program to support small businesses in 1998-99. He added that production of goods by small businesses decreased by 500 million rubles. Shaimiev said he would insist that the draft law on licensing in Tatarstan be amended by the State Council to create more favorable conditions for the private sector. Shaimiev said the "taxation system in Tatarstan should be reformed before 2000 to allow private companies to operate" and be registered in Tatarstan. Recently, participants at the congress complained that they had to register their companies in neighboring regions to avoid the heavy tax burden in Tatarstan.

Muslim Women Protest Developments In Kosovo
A group of Muslim women sent a letter to Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev expressing their outrage at recent developments in the Balkans, Tatarinform agency reported. They spoke against the ethnic cleansing operations undertaken by Serbs and the military actions of NATO forces in the region. They also urged the government to prevent attempts by some organizations in Tatarstan to sign up volunteers to fight in Yugoslavia.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi