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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 14, 2002

14 June 2002
Paper Slams Duma On Latin-Script Issue
An article published in "Moskovskii Komsomolets v Tatarstane" on 13 June criticized the results of a 5 June vote in the Russian State Duma concerning proposed amendments to Russia's law on the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation. Duma deputies voted 343-15 to pass amendments in the first reading that, if passed into law, will require ethnically based republics to use only the Cyrillic script for their state languages. The weekly's political observer Lev Ovrutskii said the vote results were a "clinical case of collective midsummer madness" and that, "the honor of Russian democracy was saved by the 15 deputies who voted against the bill" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2002).

Ovrutskii, a member of the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), stated with pride that, "right-of-center deputies represented the majority" of those who opposed the draft amendment, adding that only two deputies from Tatarstan, Fandes Safiullin and Nail Khusnutdinov cast their votes against it.

In his article, Ovrutskii wrote that it was tactless for the State Duma to intervene in the script issue, which he said is directly connected with Tatarstan and the right of Tatars to decide on what script to use for their language.

Ovrutskii said the Duma's decision was a means of "destroying the unity of multiethnic calling the evil spirits of the [Russian] empire back from the past...and taking a truly totalitarian approach."

He added that a possible result of the Duma's efforts to ban the use of Latin script is that Tatars "will wait for a transition to a Latin Tatar script, including even those who preferred the Cyrillic Tatar script before."

"Moskovskii Komsomolets v Tatarstane" also announced that it is collecting signatures of people opposed to the Duma action. People may sign, and mail in, coupons printed in the paper that read: "I am against the amendment adopted by the Russian Federation State Duma on 5 June. In my opinion, the issue of the transition of the Tatar language to Latin script is to be solved by Tatars and the legally elected authorities of Tatarstan."

Article Accuses Tatar Authorities Of Violating Rights Of Other Peoples
Russia's "Nezavisimaya gazeta" published an article by its Kazan correspondent Vera Postnova on 11 June accusing Tatar authorities of infringing on the rights of Bashkirs in Tatarstan and of violating the right to self-determination of ethnic sub-groups within the Tatar nation.

Commenting on the 25 May congress of Tatarstan's Bashkir community, which has about 20,000 members, the author claimed that, "While organizing the Bashkir Kurultay [congress], Tatarstan's authorities did everything possible to convince at least half of the Bashkirs living in the republic that it's good to be Bashkir, but it's even better to be Tatar, especially in Tatarstan." To back her statement, Postnova wrote that tearful Bashkir senior citizens complained at the congress that, "no mosques have been constructed, no papers or books have been published, and no television or radio programs have been produced for Bashkirs in Tatarstan."

Postnova also criticized the "Kazan ideologists of ethnic independence" for their "arrogant treatment" of Tatar ethnic sub-groups, such as baptized Tatars, Misher Tatars, Siberian Tatars, and Nagaybaks.

Deputy Editor of "Vostochnyi ekspress" weekly Rinat Bilalov told RFE/RL's Kazan bureau on 12 June that "Postnova does not understand the issues she tried to raise in her article."

He added that, though Postnova tried to describe speeches made at the Bashkir congress in Kazan on 25 May, "She wasn't there, and even if she were, she would not be able to understand what was said because all of the speeches were made in the Bashkir and Tatar languages."

Presidential Adviser Criticizes Report On Federative Relations
Petr Shedrovitskii, head of the Nizhnii Novgorod-based Strategic Research Center of the Volga Federal District, and the center's chief scientific researcher Oleg Genisaretskii were in Kazan on 13 June to present a report titled "State Delegation of Powers" to Tatar State Council deputies and republican experts in the Chamber of Trade and Industry, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today.

The authors of the report offered their vision of necessary changes to Russia's federative system to increase the efficiency of state bodies. Shedrovitskii and Genisaretskii said it is necessary to change the concept of the country's system of government in order to achieve this goal.

Tatar presidential adviser Rafael Khakimov criticized the complicated language of the report, saying it has no connection with reality and that it downplays the role of regional leaders in reforming the system of government. "As for us [in Russia]," Khakimov said, "Our programs often don't work because the ordinary people who implement them don't understand the gist [of these programs].... One can see from the Strategic Research Center's report what is on its agenda, but it's absolutely impossible to see [from the report] what is on the Volga Federal District's agenda."

The full text of the report may be found at

Muslim Women Request Special Rules For Passport Photographs
As a result of frequent complaints by Muslim women in Tatarstan, the republican branch of the Passport-Visa Service addressed a letter to its headquarters in Moscow requesting the "consideration of the possibility of altering the present rules for taking photographs for Russian passports," reported on 13 June, citing deputy head of the Passport-Visa Service in Tatarstan Sergei Gavrilchik.

The Union of Muslim Women of Tatarstan had asked Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev for official permission to be photographed for their passports while wearing traditional head scarves because the Koran restricts women from uncovering their heads in public (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 7 June 2002).

Until 2001, the Russian Passport-Visa Service allowed Muslim women to be photographed while wearing head scarves for their external-travel passports before going on the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, though this was later restricted as well.

Federal legislation prohibits citizens from having passport photographs taken while wearing sunglasses or anything on their heads.

Media Hints At Departure Of Finance Minister
A number of media outlets in Tatarstan reported on 13 June that Tatar Finance Minister Robert Musin had resigned his post because of health reasons. The head of the Tatar governmental press service, Ildar Sagdashin, said the same day, however, that no ministers had submitted resignation documents to the government registry.

Nevertheless, "Vechernyaya Kazan" daily predicted the same day that Musin will take the place of Mudaris Idrisov as chairman of the board of Aq Bars Bank.

Musin had previously been chairman of the board of Aq bars prior to his appointment as finance minister in 1998. Aq Bars is an official partner of the Tatar government.

Tatneft Signs Deal With Sverdlovsk Oblast...
During talks with the administration of Sverdlovsk Oblast in Yekaterinburg on 11-12 June, Tatarstan's Tatneft oil company signed an agreement with the oblast on the construction of 10 gas stations with automobile-repair shops, carwashes, stores, and motels in Yekaterinburg over the next two years, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 13 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11, 12 June 2002).

...As Oblast Expresses Hope For Further Cooperation With Tatarstan
On 11 June, Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel told Tatar President Shaimiev that the oblast had developed a program to equip the Tatar oil industry with oblast-produced machinery and other goods. Sverdlovsk Oblast already supplies Tatarstan with steel, construction materials, pipes, and elevators, while Tatarstan provides the oblast with trucks, oil products, and consumer and agricultural goods.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Duma Deputy Speaks Out On Causes Of Riots In Moscow
Russian State Duma Deputy Zainulla Bagishaev from the Fatherland-All Russia faction told Bashinform on 11 June that he was shocked by the riots in Moscow after the Russian national soccer team lost its World Cup match against Japan on 9 June. Bagishaev said the violence was the result of propaganda that television directs at young viewers.

"Somebody is deliberately and persistently promoting violence through the electronic mass media," he said. He added that both television and the print media also promote the cult of money and images of strength. Bagishaev said that another reason for the riots is the lack of moral education of youth in secondary schools and higher-educational institutions, as well as in society in general.

He said that those 141 State Duma deputies who voted against the draft law on fighting extremism should think their decision over again, adding that such a law would help authorities provide order.

Rossel Sends Greetings To Rakhimov At Bashkir Congress
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel sent a message on 13 June to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov at the second World Bashkir Congress that opened today, Rosbalt reported on 13 June. Rossel said: "The central Urals and Bashkortostan have always been connected by ties of neighborliness and friendship. Reliable contacts exist between our regions in economy, science, culture, and sports. Some 45,000 Bashkirs live in Sverdlovsk Oblast, and I know their diligence and devotion to the Ural area."

Zaki Validi's Daughter Speaks At Congress
Isenbike Togan, daughter of Akhmet Zaki Validi, leader of the Bashkir national movement, addressed the residents of Bashkortostan at the second World Bashkir Congress on 13 June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. "The native land of our ancestors, Bashkortostan, provides us with spiritual energy," she said, adding that the World Bashkir Congress will help Bashkirs living as emigres to return to their roots. Togan herself now lives in Turkey.

Mufti Says Congress Should Promote Peace, Concord
Talgat Tadzhuddin, the supreme mufti of Russia and European countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and a participant at the second World Bashkir Congress, told Bashinform on 13 June that he wishes that all peoples and individuals realize that they are "precious creatures of God," that they preserve their cultures and languages, and that they respect other peoples. Tadzhuddin said peace, concord, and mutual respect among peoples will provide for success in all matters. He said the congress is a good opportunity for people to think together about how to live in friendship and concord. He thanked Bashkir President Rakhimov and the republic's government for their efforts in organizing the congress.

Bashkir Writer Talks About Development Of Bashkir People
Bashkir poet Khasan Nazar told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 13 June that the second World Bashkir Congress will discuss two very important issues for the development of the Bashkir nation and strengthening the republic: maintaining land by preventing its sale and the development of Bashkir national education.

Nazar called for the establishment of a Bashkir National University to train specialists in the humanities and technical fields. He said it is necessary to stimulate the migration of Bashkirs living outside Bashkortostan to the republic and to provide jobs and adequate living conditions for them. Nazar said the Bashkir language should be taught in secondary schools and higher-educational institutions as a state language. He also said that special attention should be paid to training Bashkir translators.

Unity And Fatherland Leaders Discuss Situation In Volga Federal District
Mansur Ayupov, the political council chairman of the Unity and Fatherland combined party in Bashkortostan, said 53 local departments of the party uniting more than 1,000 members have been established in the republic, Bashinform reported on 11 June. Ayupov was speaking at a meeting of leaders of the party's regional branches that took place several days earlier in Moscow. Members of party's interregional coordinating council in the Volga Federal District gathered as well to discuss the social, economic, and political situation in the district's regions.

Bashprombank Appoints New Head
The board of directors of Bashprombank elected Aidar Zubairov as chairman, Bashinform reported on 11 June, citing the Bashprombank press service. Zubairov previously served as first deputy chairman of the board Bashprombank. His predecessor Leonid Gafarov has moved to the UralSib bank.

Health Ministry Releases HIV Statistics
The number of HIV-infected residents of Bashkortostan has officially reached 3,157, Bashinform reported on 10 June, citing the Bashkortostan Health Ministry. Those infected with the virus that causes AIDS include 174 people under 18 years old and 31 pregnant women. Fifty-three babies have already been infected by their mothers in the republic. The infection rate is 77 cases per 100,000 people, compared to the Russian average of 136.4 per 100,000. The virus is most prevalent in the republic among youth, drug users, and residents of urban areas.

Schoolteachers Continue Hunger Strike In Neftekamsk
Teachers from Neftekamsk secondary school No. 1 are continuing the hunger strike they began on 10 June to protest plans to abolish the school and to open an affiliate of Bashkir State University instead, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 12 June (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 June 2002). Svetlana Akchurina, a Tatar- and Russian-language teacher, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent that the Bashkir Education Ministry had not yet reacted to the issue.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

140,000 Ural Teachers, Students Appeal To Putin
An open letter addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and signed by 138,205 Ural education workers and students was sent to Moscow on 10 June, reported the same day. The signatories attempt to persuade Putin to change his position toward the reform of education in Russia and to increase student grants. Signatures were collected from 1 May till 1 June throughout the Ural Federal District.

Komi Public Movement Calls For Maintaining Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug
The executive committee of the Komi people's movement insists that Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug should to be maintained as a subject of the Russian Federation, reported on 11 June citing Komiinform. The statement was adopted at a meeting of the executive committee of the Komi People movement the same day in the capital of Komi Republic Syktyvkar held to discuss the issue of the merger of the okrug with Perm Oblast. Komi Republic Deputy State Council Chairman Valerii Potolitsin said: "The okrug will face big losses as a result of a merger with the Perm Oblast. The okrug hospital, court, and prosecutor's office will be abolished, while the development of language and culture will be out of the question." The participants decided that if a merger of Russia's regions begins, it will be more reasonable to merge the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug with the Komi Republic. It was decided to form within the executive committee an initiative group to defend the interests of the Komi-Permyak people.

Marii El's Volzhsk Residents Disconnected From Water Supply...
The Marienergo energy company cut off the electricity supplied to Volzhskvodokanal, which meant that residents of Volzhsk, the second-largest city of Marii El, were deprived of water, reported on 11 June. The Volzhsk city administration owes Marienergo 38.5 million rubles ($1.2 million). Volzhsk is a city of 62,000.

...As Well As Nizhnii Residents
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast government commission in charge of investigating the critical situation of the Nizhnii Novgorod water supply said the city administration headed by Mayor Yurii Lebedev is responsible for failing to pay for electricity, reported on 13 June. Three districts of Nizhnii Novgorod, in which some 120,000 residents or 10 percent of the city's total population live, were disconnected from hot and cold water on 5 June because of Teploenergo's failure to make payment to Nizhnovenergo. Teploenergo owes Nizhnovenergo 330 million rubles ($10.5 million) in total. The commission head, oblast Construction and Municipal Services Minister Valerii Limarenko on 13 June told oblast Legislative Assembly deputies that the Nizhnii Novgorod administration allocated in the 2002 budget only 60 percent of the money necessary to pay for electricity.

Unified Russia Leader Appointed Federation Council Senator From Penza Oblast Government
The Penza Oblast Legislative Assembly voted unanimously on 7 June to appoint Aleksandr Bespalov, the chairman of the Unified Russia general council, as representative of the Penza Oblast government to the Federation Council, reported the same day citing the Unified Russia press service.

Samara's Titov, Novgorod's Prusak May Form Bloc At Duma Elections
Samara Oblast Governor Konstantin Titov and Novgorod Oblast Governor Mukhail Prusak said they will possibly form a bloc of the Social Democratic and Democratic parties in the next State Duma elections, RIA-Novosti reported on 11 June. The governors told journalists the previous day that not a merger of parties but only the establishment of the bloc is under discussion. They said other democratic parties could join the alliance. Titov is leader of the Social Democratic Party while Prusak heads Democratic Party.

Ballots From 2000 Gubernatorial Elections Found In Saratov Oblast
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov strongly denied allegations about the illegitimacy of the 2000 elections for governor spread by Labor Balakovo organization leader Anatolii Kalashnikov, Rosbalt reported on 7 June. Kalashnikov said a bundle of papers containing 3,000 ballots used in the elections was left anonymously at his organization's headquarters. However, the number of bulletins turned out to be in fact some 1,900, not 3,000, after the Balakovo prosecutor's office counted them, the agency said. The majority of them were marked with votes "against all candidates." Ayatskov said the ballots are fake. The prosecutor's office will decide whether to take action on the case.

In the 2000 gubernatorial elections, Ayatskov received 67.2 percent of the vote while his closest rival Igor Karaulov received 9.6 percent. Some 20.3 percent voted against all candidates.

Egyptian Company To Invest $280 Million In Ulyanovsk's Aviastar
The Russian Property Relations Ministry, the Tupolev company, the Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar-SP company, and Egypt's Sirocco Airspace International signed an investment agreement on 11 June, reported the same day. The agency cited Russian Science, Industry and Technology Minister Ilya Klebanov as saying that according to the document, Sirocco is to invest at least $280 million in the production of Tu-204 aircraft in 2002-03 and will receive 25 percent minus one share in Aviastar-SP and a similar stake in Tupolev. At the same time, the state will maintain its controlling interest in both companies. Klebanov said the agreement is intended to provide the necessary conditions for Aviastar-SP to produce 25 Tu-204-120s in 2002-03 and deliver five similar aircraft to China under a 2001 contract.

Ulyanovskenergo Accounts Frozen
Bailiffs froze the accounts of Ulyanovskenergo on 11 June and presented court orders to pay 821 million rubles ($26.1 million), reported the same day citing the Ulyanovskenergo press service. The action follows court verdicts in which claims by the Balakovskaya nuclear power station, Mezhregiongaz, the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower station, the Smolenskaya nuclear power station, and Ulyanovskregiongaz were satisfied. Ulyanovsk Oblast owes energy suppliers 3.7 billion rubles ($118 million), some 400 million rubles ($12.7 million) of which is for 2002.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova