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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 11, 2003

11 November 2003
Duma Candidate Objects To Poster Of Tatar President
Irek Mortazin, former head of All-Russia State Television and Radio Company's (VGTRK) branch in Tatarstan and a former Tatar presidential spokesman, complained on 3 November to the republican Central Election Commission (TsIK) questioning the legality of a poster in Kazan depicting President Mintimer Shaimiev, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported, citing the 4 November issue of "Vechernyaya Kazan."

The poster is dedicated to the future Kazan millennium celebration in 2005 and has Shaimiev standing with Russian President Vladimir Putin with a caption saying "Favorite city."

Mortazin asked the TsIK to verify whether Shaimiev, as a member of Unified Russia's party list for the State Duma, permitted the use of his image for the poster or paid for the alleged political advertisement from his official campaign fund. He said that if the poster is in violation of election rules, it should be taken down.

Mortazin, currently head of the Russian state TV bureau in Minsk, Belarus, is running for the State Duma in the Privolzhkii voting district of Tatarstan as a member of Grigorii Yavlinskii's Yabloko party.

Small Protest Crowds In Kazan For Constitution Day Events
The moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TIU), led by Reshit Yegeferov, managed to gather only a dozen of its activists at a protest dedicated to Tatarstan's Constitution Day at the Irek Square on 6 November, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 7 November. The protesters held placards urging a return of the first republican constitution adopted in 1992, which declared Tatarstan a subject of international law and introduced its own citizenship.

Meanwhile, the local branch of the Unified Russia party gathered in front of the TIU gathering to praise the revised Tatar Constitution as a guarantor of interethnic accord in the republic. This event was attended by the leaders of various ethnic communities working in Kazan and Tatarstan.

Enwer Mokhemmetzakirov, secretary of the local Unified Russia's Political Council, told the reporters after the meeting that "as our constitution occupies a deserved place in the life of our residents, people are mostly concerned with their everyday problems, such as housing reform."

KamAZ Planning To Cut 10,000 Workers
Only one of every 10 KamAZ employees currently quitting their job does so because of the company's staff-reduction program, Ilshat Khajiev, deputy general director for human resources, told the daily "Vechernie Chelny" in an interview published on 5 November. Some 23,000 workers are said to have left KamAZ in the last two years, while only 1,200 of them were officially laid off.

According to the company's business plan, 3,000 people out of some 50,000 are still to leave KamAZ by the end of this year. Management maintains that some 30,000-40,000 workers are to remain at the company, while about 7,000 workers who possess "temporary" status will be released in the first two months of 2004.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Technimont Sign $5 Million Contract
Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Italy's Technimont signed a contract worth 150 million rubles ($5 million) during a visit made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Italy, reported on 7 November. The Italian company will develop a design for a plant capable of producing 120,000 tons of polypropylene a year and deliver equipment for its production. Nizhnekamskneftekhim General Director Vladimir Busygin and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev were both part of the Russian delegation.

One In 10 Kreshens Register In Census Separately From Tatars
The State Statistics Committee announced that 25,000 Christian Tatars (Kreshens), less than 10 percent of their total estimated population, were registered in the 2002 census in Russia, "Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 6 November. Scholars estimate that between 200,000 and 300,000 Christian Tatars live in Russia. Controversy arose on the eve of the census between those who advocate for separate registration of the Christian Tatars and those who believe they are an ethnic group within the Tatar people (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15, 16, 19 April, 9 May and 10 October 2002, and "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Report," 29 March and 4 October 2002).

Scholars Comment On Census Results
Commenting on the results of the 2002 census in a roundtable held by the RFE/RL Kazan bureau on 9 November, Valerii Tishkov, director of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the population of Tatars in Russia grew by 36,000 or 0.6 percent, including: Christian Tatars, Siberian Tatars, and Nugaibeks.

Tishkov said that the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute promotes the separation of the latter groups from Tatars; however, distinguishing these groups from one another is strongly opposed by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev and the republic's other leaders. As a result, the census organizers decided to retain one general category for all Tatars. Tishkov said the growth of Bashkirs by 330,000, or 22 percent, may be explained either by Bashkortostan Tatars who now identify themselves as Bashkir or by other distortions. During the same roundtable, Damir Iskhaqov, history professor and head of the Kazan-based Ethnological Monitoring Center, said the small growth of Tatars registered in the 2002 census is also a result of migration. He cited unidentified experts who say that some 100,000 Tatars have come to Tatarstan from outside Russia in the past 10-15 years, while the number of officially registered Tatar migrants in Russia is only 35,000. At the same time, Iskhaqov said the significant growth of Bashkirs in Bashkortostan did not result from natural growth or migration. He said the growth can only be explained by some of Bashkortostan's Tatars registering as Bashkirs.

Tatars who have identifed as Bashkirs in the 2002 census have not necessarily changed their ethnic identity, but instead are using the administrative levers of power, Iskhaqov added. Such a sharp growth of Bashkirs breaks all trends registered in the past several censuses, making it artificial, Iskhaqov said.

Tishkov said that data taken from the census on native languages is also inaccurate. The question was added as a result of demands by representatives of regions populated by people of non-Russian ethnicities. Tishkov said the inaccuracies in reporting stemmed from nationalism. Mikhail Guboglo, head professor for the Moscow-based Ethnologic Research Center, said it is impossible to compare the results of the 2002 census with those of previous censuses because of the question on native language. Guboglo argues that a native language is not an individual's first learned language, nor the one that they might speak most often, but the one that is considered native. Guboglo said that "the most striking example" of this is the group of 230,000 Bashkirs living in Bashkortostan who reported their native language as Tatar.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Explosion Kills Two In Ufa...
Two people were killed and three were injured when a car bomb exploded in Ufa on the night of 5 November, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent and Russian and Bashkir news agencies reported on 6 November. The Bashkir Interior Ministry said that the bomb was detonated by remote control when a jeep belonging to the Shchit company was passing by. Shchit guards the property and management of Bashkirenergo, the chairman of which is President Murtaza Rakhimov's son, Ural. Two Shchit guards, aged 29 and 33, were killed and two more were hospitalized in serious condition. A driver of another car was slightly injured by the explosion.

Bashkir Interior Ministry press service head Ruslan Sherefetdinov said the bomb must have contained up to 700 grams of TNT and was filled with bolts, screws, and pieces of metal pipe. Sherefetdinov said the car was sold by an unemployed Ufa resident to an unidentified individual two months ago. Sherefetdinov said that he believes the aim of the bombing is to destabilize the political situation in the republic on the eve of the 7 December presidential and State Duma elections.

He also said the bombing recalls the 27 September event when police defused a radio-controlled bomb containing 1,200 grams of TNT that was located in a car in downtown Ufa not far from the office of Ural Rakhimov.

...Which Presidential Candidate Says Authorities May Use To Restrict Opposition Campaigning
Bashkir presidential candidate Relif Safin said on 6 November that the car-bomb explosion could destabilize the situation in Bashkortostan on the eve of the elections, RosBalt reported the same day, citing Safin's spokeswoman Tatyana Ivanova. Safin believes that the local authorities "may use the antiterrorist campaign to pursue their political goals." He predicted that the authorities may tighten traffic inspections during the election campaign and "create obstacles for the activities of independent observers under the pretence of looking for terrorists."

Speaking on a live Ekho Moskvy program on 6 November, Safin said no equal opportunities exist in the election race in Bashkortostan. "All the candidates can confirm that no equality exists in the elections. There is evidence by people and hundreds of signatures," Safin said. He said that "Moscow should interfere in the situation," adding that if a commission came to the region, it would be able to determine that "lawlessness is growing in the center of Russia."

Russia's Chief Ethnologist Discusses Growth Of Bashkir Population
In an interview with RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 5 November, director of the Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Valerii Tishkov said that the Bashkir population in Russia had grown by 26 percent. Tishkov said that the growth of 330,000 people, documented in the 2002 Russia-wide census, exceeded the natural increase that could result from higher birth and lower mortality rates among Bashkirs. Tishkov said that such a sharp growth could be explained by people's changing perceptions of their ethnicity, especially in Bashkortostan's western and northwestern raions. He suggested that residents of those territories should be better permitted to identify themselves as Tatar-Bashkirs. Ethnologist Damir Iskhaqov, head of the Center for Ethnological Monitoring, writing for on 5 November, said that the increase of Bashkirs in Bashkortostan by only 87,500 was caused by the natural increase of the population and migration, while the remainder appeared in the republic "from nowhere." Before and during the 2002 census, representatives of the republic's ethnic Bashkir elite repeatedly said publicly that Tatars living in Bashkortostan's western and northwestern raions are in fact Bashkirs.

European Commission Studies Bashkortostan's Anticorruption Experience
A European Commission delegation arrived on 3 November in Bashkortostan for a three-week visit to study the republic's experiences in anticorruption activity and legislation aimed at fighting corruption, reported on 4 November. In February 2002, the European Commission selected a draft anticorruption plan developed by the Bashkir State Assembly as the best one, and in July 2003 launched a project on improving organization and communication in fighting corruption. The project aims at developing and implementing legal and organizational measures to promote anticorruption policy in the region and exchanging experience in fighting corruption at the regional level.

The first anticorruption law was adopted in Bashkortostan in 1994. The republic is the only region in Russia where such legislation exists. A report to the European Commission containing recommendations on fighting corruption is to be prepared as a result of the visit. The World Bank plans to launch soon in Bashkortostan a project titled "An Island Without Corruption."

Presidential Candidates Will Not Face Language Exam
Bashkir CEC Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov told a press conference on 3 November that presidential candidates will not be required to pass a Bashkir-language exam, Russian agencies reported. Kinjegulov said that the republican Electoral Code does not contain any provision requiring that presidential candidates be able to speak Bashkir. In late September, Kinjegulov said that a special linguistic committee would be formed under the republican CEC to examine the Bashkir-language skills of presidential candidates (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 25 September 2003). The requirement of presidential candidates to speak both of the republic's state languages, Russian and Bashkir, is fixed in Article 86 of the Bashkir Constitution. Kinjegulov also said that ballots will be printed in three languages -- Russian, Bashkir, and Tatar -- for the December State Duma and presidential elections.

TsIK Rules Veremeenko's Exclusion From Presidential Race Is Illegal
The Russian Central Election Commission (TsIK) annulled on 3 November the decision by the Bashkir Central Election Commission (CEC) refusing the registration of the former Mezhprombank head Sergei Veremeenko as a candidate in the Bashkir presidential elections, Russian news agencies reported. The TsIK said the Bashkir CEC must "immediately reconsider the issue on registration of Veremeenko as a presidential candidate." The decision by the TsIK was passed unanimously. On 27 October, the Bashkir CEC satisfied an appeal by another presidential candidate, Federation Council Senator Igor Izmestev, who claimed that Veremeenko had violated electoral law (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 28 October 2003). Russian TsIK Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov told reporters the same day that Bashkortostan has become a record-holder in terms of appeals against violations during the current campaign, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 November. Veshnyakov said if the Bashkir CEC ignores the resolutions by the TsIK, the latter will register the candidates itself. He also said representatives of the TsIK will be sent to the republic to supervise the preparations for the elections, adding that in case violations take place, the Bashkir CEC could be dissolved through a court verdict, "Vedomosti" reported on 4 November.

Bashkir Election Commission Registers Four More Presidential Candidates
The Bashkir Central Election Commission (CEC) registered on 31 October four candidates for the Bashkir presidency, RosBalt reported the same day. The approval of the candidacy of incumbent President Murtaza Rakhimov was unanimous, although it followed the consideration of an appeal by another candidate, Khesen Idiatullin, who protested that Rakhimov has violated electoral rules. Leader of the Bashkir opposition movement Rus and director of the Moscow-based Institute of Federalism and Civil Society Aleksandr Arinin was registered by five votes against two. The commission also voted unanimously to register Communist Party candidate Resul Shugurov, and Andrei Pykhachev, a Velikii Novgorod resident, who is currently unemployed, RosBalt reported.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Mayak To Process Uzbek Highly Enriched Uranium
On a visit to Washington, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said his ministry together with the U.S. Energy Department will begin a joint program on repatriating highly enriched uranium (HEU) research-reactor fuel from reactors operating in former Soviet republics to Russia, reported on 4 November. Under the program, HEU from the Uzbek Ulugbek nuclear station near Tashkent will be imported. The United States signed an agreement with Uzbekistan in March 2002, according to which the United States will pay for transportation and processing the fuel at Chelyabinsk Oblast's Mayak company.

Atomic Energy Ministry Allocates 9 Billion Rubles To Mayak Problems
The Atomic Energy Ministry will allocate over 9 billion rubles ($302 million) to implement the plan on resolving the environmental problems around the Mayak chemical plant, Uralinformbyuro reported on 4 November. The money will be spent on halting the release of radioactive waste into industrial reservoirs and eliminating some of them, including the Karachai reservoir.

Man Accused Of Killing Tolyatti Editor Retracts Testimony
Yevgenii Maininger, who is accused of the murder of "Tolyattinskoye obozrenie" Editor in Chief Aleksei Sidorov, has retracted his testimony, reported on 6 November. Maininger's lawyer Yurii Logvinenko said his client officially stated that he retracts all of his testimony. Maininger refused to answer any questions during interrogation until he is brought to trail.

Sidorov, known for his articles about crimes related to AvtoVAZ, was stabbed to death in Tolyatti near his house on 9 October. On 14 October, Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov told reporters that a suspect was arrested and that the motive was unrelated to Sidorov's work. During the investigation, Maininger pleaded guilty to killing Sidorov.

Fifth Block Of Balakovo Nuclear Station To Be Constructed By 2008
Rosenergoatom plans to finish construction by 2008 of four blocks at nuclear power stations, including a fifth block at the Balakovo Nuclear Power Station, a third block at the Kalinin Nuclear Power Station, a fifth block at the Kursk Nuclear Power Station, and a second block at the Volgodonsk Nuclear Power Station, Saratovbizneskonsalting reported on 6 November. Launching the new facilities will extend the lifetime of the stations' other blocks by 15 years and produce over 180 billion kilowatts of energy a year.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Prosecutor Claims Documents On Website Forged
The Sverdlovsk Oblast prosecutor's office on 6 November reacted to documents compromising Prosecutor Boris Kuznetsov published by, Novyi region reported the same day. Specifically, the website claimed that the prosecutor's office profited from the bankruptcy of the state-run Gradmash company, saying "the municipal purse of Yekaterinburg was cleaned out under the coverage of the oblast prosecutor." The prosecutor's office press service said that documents published on the site are forged. It said Kuznetsov appealed to Sverdlovsk Oblast Interior Ministry head Vladimir Vorotnikov to investigate the case. The press service called on the media not to rush to comment on material presented on the website.

Yekaterinburg Administration Fighting Street Ads Of Mayor's Competitors
Thirty-seven billboards for Yekaterinburg mayoral candidates competing with incumbent Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii will be removed in Yekaterinburg by 30 November, Novyi region reported on 6 November. This was according to a resolution issued by Yekaterinburg State Property Committee Deputy Chairman Vyacheslav Lazarenko. The resolution says the billboards were installed illegally, while the news agency commented that the move is a part of a campaign by the Yekaterinburg administration to remove street ads of Chernetskii's rivals in the race.

Bust Of Stalin Restored In Tyumen Oblast
A bust of Josef Stalin was restored in Ishim, Tyumen Oblast, on the eve of the anniversary of the October Revolution, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 November. The bust was erected in the early 1940s to commemorate the fact that Stalin was transported through Ishim to exile under the tsar, and then was dismantled in the 1950s. In 1999, the dictator's bust was found buried in a local public garden.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova