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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 10, 2002

10 May 2002
Siberian Tatars Weighing Census Options
RFE/RL's Tyumen correspondent reported on 7 May that a growing number of Siberian Tatars are planning to register as a separate ethnic group in the October Russian census (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 7 May 2002). Even some people whose ancestors were Volga Tatars have said they will register as Siberian Tatars in the census.

Tyumen state television showed a Tatar-language broadcast on 7 May titled "Who are we?," in which one of participants, Enes Gaetov, called on his compatriots to register as Siberian Tatars, not as Tatars, in order to state their people's indigenous character. Gaetov said Siberian Tatars have their own lives, history, state, identity, and geographic location. He said the integrity of the Soviet people during the Soviet period was useless for Siberian Tatars, since the Soviet Union disintegrated in spite of the fact that the integrity of the Soviet people had always been promoted.

Gaetov stressed that if Siberian Tatars had been called Siberian Tatars after the 1917 Revolution when numerous peoples obtained statehood, they also would have been given their own statehood.

Under current conditions, the culture of Siberian Tatars has not developed because of the absence of artists and cultural institutions, while the Tatar and Bashkir cultures have developed, Gaetov said.

If Siberian Tatars lived in Tatarstan, however, they would not say a single word about separation from Tatars, Gaetov said. Several years ago, Siberian Tatars collected 4,000 signatures on a petition supporting Tatarstan's independence, a move demonstrating Turkic-Tatar unity, Gaetov said.

Tatarstan Education Ministry Promotes Tatar Schools
Tatarstan Education Minister Faris Kharisov said many of Russia's regions where Tatar communities exist have been reporting false data about Tatar schools there, "Vostochnyi ekspress" weekly reported on 8 May.

In Tyumen, for example, where a Tatar school was reported to exist, visitors from Tatarstan were unable to find a single Tatar educational institution and only seven schools in which the Tatar language is taught merely one hour a week.

In Tatar schools in Chuvashia and the Ulyanovsk Oblast, subjects are taught in Russian instead of Tatar. Even in schools in the Kulatka Raion of the Ulyanovsk Oblast, where Tatars comprise 94 percent of the population, and where all residents speak Tatar, all subjects are taught in Russian while Tatar is studied for only two or three hours a week.

Kharisov said the Russian Education Ministry does not have any statistics on national schools in the country, though it declares that the cultures and languages of the peoples of Russia are being maintained.

The Tatarstan Education Ministry plans to promote the establishment of basic Tatar schools in Russia's regions, he said.

Communist Leader Speaks Out Against Putin, Chubais...
Aleksandr Salii, leader of the Tatarstan branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, told "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly on 8 May that, if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not remove from political and financial power all those who helped bring him to power, then he will become a superficial person. Salii added that Putin is attractive in appearance, but lacks backbone.

The Communist leader also said the country is ruled by Anatolii Chubais, the head of Unified Energy Systems, Russia's power monopoly. "Chubais is the greatest evil in our country," Salii asserted.

...Says Seleznev Could Be Communists' Presidential Candidate...
Salii said in the same interview that if Gennadii Seleznev left his post as chairman of the Russian State Duma to head the Communist faction in the Duma, then he would become a real leftist candidate in the next presidential election. Salii said Seleznev had more potential than current Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov and that he also had good relations with a number of regional governors.

...And Predicts Strong Showing By Communists In Next Tatarstan Elections
Salii also claimed that his party received no less than 50 percent of the votes in all Tatarstan elections since 1996.

He predicted that eight to 10 Communist Party members will be elected on the party list to the Tatarstan State Council in the next elections and that several candidates will be elected in single-mandate districts.

Commenting on a remark by an interviewer about a possible plan by Shaimiev's close relatives to succeed him in office, Salii said the Russian leadership does not see this as a real possibility. Salii also noted that family dynasties are impermissible under Russian law. Salii said that when Shaimiev leaves office, there will be a "savage fight" for the presidency of Tatarstan.

Russian Islamic University Honors First Graduates
Fourteen students graduated from the faculties of Sharia Law and the Koran at the Russian Islamic University in Kazan, reported on 7 May.

Abdurashid Zakirov, vice rector of the university, told the agency that the university proposed that four of the graduates be given teaching posts at the university. He also said the university is establishing contacts with international Islamic centers where graduates can be sent to continue their religious education.

Tatarstan's Popular Front Protests Beer Advertising
"Zvezda povolzhya" weekly published a statement on 8 May by Tatarstan's Popular Front in which the group's chairman, Farit Khabibullin, criticized beer advertising in the republic. Khabibullin said the major contributors of this type of advertising were the Efir and Tatarstan television companies.

The Popular Front leader also protested plans by the Krasnyi Vostok (Red East) beer company to hold an advertising campaign on 25 May near the Kazan Kremlin and the Qol Sherif mosque, as it had a year ago, to mark the 10th anniversary of Efir's information program "Gorod", (City).

Khabibullin said such "republic-wide carousing featuring competitions in speed drinking" leads minors to drinking and "insults our national feelings and dignity."

The Popular Front leader stressed that Kazan streets are already overfilled with beer advertisements. His statement called for the prohibition of similar advertising campaigns in the republic and the removal of beer advertisements from the streets.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Ethnologist Blames Soviet Statistics For Decreasing Tatar Population...
The Executive Committee of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan, headed by Eduard Khamitov, has published a brochure titled "Is the Tatar Population Growing or Shrinking?" devoted to the upcoming national census in October, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 6 May. The brochure, written by Tatar historian and ethnologist Damir Iskhakov, features a list of Tatar villages in Bashkortostan that were registered as Bashkir during Soviet-era censuses.

A table of census statistics from 1904, 1926, 1959, 1970, and 1979 shows the gradual "transition" of 573 Tatar villages in Bashkortostan into Bashkir ones.

The brochure's foreword says that, "There are some forces in Bashkortostan willing to use the future census for their own interests by increasing the reported number of the Bashkir population to 35-40 percent of the republic's population. Although, under pressure from Soviet authorities, a large number of Tatar villages were registered as Bashkir, the 1989 census demonstrated the return of Bashkortostan's Tatars to their own nation. Nevertheless, these figures are now being protested by the argument that the Tatar statistics were beefed up at the expense of the Bashkir population."

...As Bashkir Historian Blames Same Statistics For Inflated Tatar Population
The Bashkir "Shonkar" magazine published a report by professor Rim Yamguzhin, a historian from the Russian Academy of Social Sciences, on 8 May, in which he asserted that the increase in the Tatar population in Bashkortostan in the Soviet era was incorrect and that only the 1926 Soviet census had objective statistics, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported.

According to the 1926 census, Russians made up 40 percent of Bashkortostan's population, while Bashkirs comprised 22 percent, and Tatars only 10 percent. That same year, Tatar Misher and Tipter sub-ethnic groups, which comprised 14 percent of the population, were registered as separate peoples.

Yamguzhin said in the article that Mishers were a separate people, while the Tipters were Bashkirs until the 18th century. He said the inclusion of Mishers and Tipters in the Tatar nation during the censuses after 1926 was a "violation of those peoples' right to self-determination."

Yamguzhin also said that, "As a result of Tatar assimilation in the northwest of Bashkortostan, 25 percent of Bashkirs said Tatar was their native language in the 1989 census."

Equality Movement Wins Suit Against Justice Ministry
Ufa's Kirov Raion Court granted the claim of the Ravnopravie (Equality) movement against Bashkortostan's Justice Ministry on 8 May, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day.

The movement was formed by the Rus organization for Russian rights in the republic and the Tatar Public Center (TIU) in order to promote equality among all ethnic groups in Bashkortostan. The movement had been seeking registration from the Justice Ministry for a year, but was refused because it had listed the home address of one of its leaders as its legal address.

The ministry plans to appeal the verdict to Bashkortostan's Supreme Court.

Also on 8 May, TIU branch leader Airat Giniatullin told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent that starting on 1 July, a new federal law on political parties and public organizations will come into force, lifting the requirement for organizations to provide a legal address.

Agents Nab Scientists Trying To Sell Truth Serum
Bashkortostan Interior Ministry officers arrested two Bashkir scientists after they allegedly tried to sell the psychotropic agent psychotron and homemade explosives, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 7 May. The agent is reportedly used as a so-called truth serum, and was used by Soviet special forces during interrogations of prisoners.

One of the arrested individuals is from the Organic Chemistry Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Ufa, while the other worked for Ufa's Petroleum Chemical and Catalysis Institute.

Wage Arrears Nearly Double In Agriculture Industry
Wages arrears to workers in Bashkortostan's agriculture industry increased by 84.9 percent during the first three months of 2002, reaching some 290 million rubles ($9.3 million), "Respublika Bashkortostan" daily reported on 8 May, quoting Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Vakhitov.

State Provides Loans To Farms To Ensure Fuel Supply
Bashkortostan farms were reportedly given 272 million rubles ($8.7 million) in state loans to ensure a stable fuel supply for farm machinery during the upcoming sowing season. Bashkortostan's farms are expected to use 109,000 tons of diesel fuel and 27,900 tons of gasoline during this year's sowing season, Bashkortostan state radio reported on 7 May.

Moscow Gives Rahkimov Honorary Award
On 30 April, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a decree awarding Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov an honorary certificate for his contribution to the military education of the population of Bashkortostan and for helping ensure the country's defense abilities, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 8 May.

Veterans Mark Victory Day With Children Of Those Lost In Chechen War
A Victory Day ceremony for veterans on 7 May at Ufa's Officers' House was also attended by about 50 children of soldiers from Bashkortostan who were killed in the current conflict in Chechnya, Bashkortostan state television reported the same day. The ceremony was organized by the republic's Committee on Youth Affairs and the Committee for Social Support for Military Servicemen and Their Families.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chelyabinsk Politicians State Support For Governor Sumin
Politicians and the heads of industrial companies in Chelyabinsk Oblast published an open letter to residents calling on them not to react to provocations by opponents of Governor Petr Sumin, Uralinformbureau reported on 8 May. The agency said that several publications have defamed Sumin's honor and dignity had appeared recently in local media. The agency cited Salim Fatykhov, the head of the information and analysis board of the governor's administration, as saying that Sumin's rival, State Duma Deputy Mikhail Yurevich, is an initiator of the articles. The open letter was signed by the general director of the Magnitogorskii Metallurgicheskii Kombinat, Viktor Rashnikov; State Duma deputies Pavel Krasheninnikov and Aleksandr Chershintsev; the rector of Magnitogorsk University, Valentin Romanov; the rector of Magnitogorsk Technical University, Boris Nikiforov; the general director of Magnitostroi, Anatolii Shkaraput; and the chairman of the board of the Magnitogorskii Metizno-Metallurgicheskii Zavod, Yevgenii Teftelev.

Suspects Named In Killing Of Tolyatti Journalist
Deputies of the Tolyatti city duma and local businessmen issued a 1.5 million ruble ($48,400) reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the murder of Valerii Ivanov, editor in chief of "Tolyattinskoe obozrenie," "Samara segodnya" reported on 7 May.

"Kommersant" cited Tolyatti Prosecutor Yevgenii Novozhilov as saying on 6 May that in the past three months "Tolyattinskoe obozernie" had written about practically all of Tolyatti's organized-crime groups. Investigations into the scandalous financial activity of former Tolyatti Mayor Sergei Zhilkin became one of the most known actions of the paper.

"Kommersant" reported that shortly before he was killed, Ivanov was threatened by local crime boss Igor Sirotenko and Suleiman Akhmadov, the head of a Chechen crime gang. "Tolyattinskoe obozrenie" was preparing a publication about members of the Sirotenko group who are suspected of contracting the murders of Tambov's senior interior officials. The Tolyatti paper had, as well, published several articles about Akhmadov's group and his two bodyguards, Vladimir Kabar and Igor Mazanov, who were sentenced to 22 years in prison each for a series of contract murders in Tolyatti.

"Kommersant" cited Aleksei Sidorov, the deputy editor at "Tolyattinskoe obozrenie," as saying that Nikolai Abramov, an adviser to the Tolyatti mayor, also threatened both Ivanov and Sidorov shortly before the murder. The threat came as articles were to be published detailing illegal schemes by Abramov's son, Oleg, to transfer money to foreign companies and to re-export VAZ automobiles through the port of Novorossiisk. Sidorov could also not rule out that the murder was revenge wrought by the paper's "favorite" personalities, Zhilkin and his partners.

Meanwhile, another contracted murder was committed in Tolyatti on 7 May in the morning, "Samara segodnya" reported the next day. Sergei Kladov, the director at one of Tolyatti's largest construction companies, was shot on the street while walking to his car.

Hundreds Of Migrants Detained In 'Operation Foreigner' In Samara Oblast
Some 1,300 people were detained for violating the rules of foreigners' registration during a "foreigner sweep" held from 1-7 May in Samara Oblast, "Samara segodnya" reported on 8 May. Almost all of those detained are citizens of Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Ukraine. Some of those arrested were deported from Samara Oblast. According to oblast interior officials, migrants from neighboring countries who do not have proper documents are often involved in trafficking drugs or weapons to Moscow. Law enforcement officials called for the introduction of a stricter regime to oversee the movement of citizens of neighboring countries within Russia.

Governor Rossel's Term In Office May Be Prolonged
The term of Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel may be prolonged by 3 to 7 months, the deputy head of the governor's administration, Anatolii Gaida, told Uralinformbureau on 8 May. The measure would allow for several electoral campaigns in the oblast to be held at the same time. Gaida said that according to one of two variants under discussion, the gubernatorial elections may be moved from September 2003 to December 2003, when elections to the State Duma and for the mayor's office in Yekaterinburg will be held. Another variant being considered would combine the gubernatorial elections with Russian presidential elections. The final decision will be made by a vote in the oblast's Legislative Assembly.

Serviceman Convicted Of Beating Fellow
The Nizhnii Tagil garrison military court sentenced Dmitrii Azyapov, a private in the local military unit, to three years in prison for beating fellow soldier Artem Tarasov, "Novyi Region" reported on 7 May. Tarasov had to have his spleen removed because of the beating and was subsequently discharged from the military. Azyapov was initially threatened with a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The court also charged the military unit to pay Tarasov 60,000 rubles ($2,000) for moral and physical damage.

Parliament Speaker: Restrictions For Visiting Okrug Help Prevent Espionage
Sergei Kharyuchi, the chairman of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, said on 7 May that the introduction of restrictions for foreigners who want to visit the okrug is aimed at protecting the region from industrial espionage as well as from subversive activity at oil and gas companies and their pipelines, Uralinformbureau reported. On 29 April, the Russian government passed a resolution to include Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug on the list of territories that limit visits by foreigners. Kharyuchi said he believes that the measure will not restrict the rights of okrug residents to move around within Russia.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova