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Tatar-Bashkir Report: December 17, 1999

17 December 1999
U.S. Ambassador Visits Tatarstan
The U.S. Ambassador to Russia, James F. Collins, visited Tatarstan on 16 December to study the situation in the republic on the eve of the 19 December elections, Tatar media reported. At a meeting with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev the sides discussed socio-economic conditions, the republic's pre-election situation, and trade. economic, and cultural cooperation between Tatarstan and the U.S. Shaimiev predicted that Fatherland-All Russia will receive the most votes in Tatarstan, followed by the KPRF. During an interview with Tatar Television, Collins said the U.S. is interested in developing direct contacts with Russian territorial entities. He said that "direct ties between the American and Tatarstan's peoples already have a very good foundation through cultural connections, trade, and investments. We try in the Embassy to encourage these ties, both official and private." Collins also said "we are very interested that the elections be conducted in a normal way and their results express the will of Tatarstan's people. It seems to us it will be so." The Ambassador met behind closed doors with Tatarstan's Muslim Mufty Gusman Iskhakov. Iskhakov told the press that he was asked about the situation in Russia and his assessment of Russia's military action in North Caucasus. Leaders of other religious confessions later joined the meeting to discuss religious education, the status of religious minorities, and inter-faith relations. The Ambassador was interested in ascertaining the religious leaders' opinion on the Russian Law on Religions. James F. Collins also held a meeting with the Tatarstan presidential adviser on state relations, Rafail Khakimov to discuss Tatarstan's future prospects. Khakimov was quoted as saying that he sees Tatarstan as part of the Russian Federation but as a territorial entity with greater stability, improved multiethnic relations and desire for cooperation with other Russian regions.

Tatarstan Lost Twelve Servicemen In Chechnya
Tatarstan's Recruiting-Office reported on 16 December that 12 Tatarstan servicemen (including three officers, one mercenary and eight draftees) were killed during the Russian military action in Chechnya. According to reports from the Russian General Staff, Russian military forces have lost some 400 persons during the Chechen campaign, while Western news agencies estimate total Russian military fatalities in Chechnya at over 2,000.

"Tatarstan-New Century" Appeals for Support for Fatherland-All Russia
On December 16, the presidium of the political movement Tatarstan-New Century appealed to the republic's voters to support the Fatherland-All Russia election bloc in the Duma elections, Tatarstan Radio reported. The appeal claimed that during the last four years, the Duma had failed to find ways to stabilize the political situation in Russia, while Fatherland-All Russia plans to build a constructive centrist Duma majority.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova