Accessibility links

Breaking News

Tatar-Bashkir Report: July 19, 2002

19 July 2002
Muslim Women Sue To Wear Headscarves In Passport Photos
A Russian court opened hearings on 19 July on a suit filed by three Muslim women who accuse the local government in Tatarstan of violating their rights by barring them from wearing headscarves in their passport photographs, Interfax news agency reported. The case opened in Kazan with statements from the plaintiffs, who cited the Koran in their argument. The government, represented by a local Interior Ministry official, argued that headscarves make it impossible to properly indentify a woman in her documents. The next hearing is set for 2 August. A majority of Tatarstan's 3.8 million people are Muslim ethnic Tatars.

Tatarstan, Slovakia To Boost Ties
A fourth meeting of the Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, and Technical Cooperation between Tatarstan and Slovakia was held on 9-11 July, reported on 16 July. In a protocol signed by Tatarstan's deputy trade and foreign economic cooperation minister, Rinat Urazaev, and Slovak Deputy Economy Minister Voijtech Panik, the sides expressed satisfaction with cooperation in the petrochemical and chemical sectors, light industry, tourism, small, and medium-size businesses, relations between Tatarstan's Nizhnekamskshina petrochemical company and Slovakia's Vipo, Matador Machinery, Matador, Matador Continental, and Konstructa Industry firms. The commission stressed the necessity to establish more active contacts and to set up joint ventures in timber, printing, and the pharmaceutical industry. Cooperation between Niznekamskneftekhim and the aforementioned Slovak companies, joint furniture and construction materiel production in Tatarstan together with Slovakia's Decodom, BB Design, Madleniak, and FTC companies, and an investment project of Grafobal Sklica, a.s. in Tatarstan on the joint production of packing materials were named as projects of priority.

Tadzhuddin Denies Having Ties With Bin Laden...
In an interview published in "NG-Religii" on 17 July, Russia's supreme mufti, Talgat Tadzhuddin, commented on the accusations made against him by the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR), Ravil Gainutdin, because of Tadzhuddin's meeting in 1991 with Tariq bin Laden, brother of Osama bin Laden. Tadzhuddin said State Duma deputies appealed for the Federal Security Service (FSB) to investigate the issue and that the FSB confirmed that the bin Laden visit was an official one that was sanctioned by the Saudi king. The FSB did not find any proof of bin Laden giving money to any leaders of Russia's Muslim community, Tadzhuddin said, and added that media publications accusing him of ties with bin Laden are being "contracted" to publish such things.

...Explains How Aid From Abroad Used...
Tadzhuddin confirmed, however, that he received financial aid from foreign Islamic organizations. He said he made contact with the World Islamic League, the Islamic Conference Organization, and others in the 1980s and 1990s. In particular, he added, an agreement was signed with the Islamic Bank for Development that helped in the early 1990s to design school curricula, but the bank allocated $400,000 for this, not $1.4 million as Gainutdin claims.

That money was used to begin construction of the Qol Sherif mosque in Kazan, the Lyalya-Tyulpan mosque in Ufa, and was used as well for the construction of the Moscow Sobornaya mosque college, where one of Gainutdin's residences is located, Tadzhuddin said. Some money used in the construction of some 20 mosques were given in early 1990s by "various foreign funds," which tried "to tame" the Central Muslim Religious Board. But, when they understood that we are not going to "dance to their tune," they stopped providing us with help, he said.

...Expresses Skepticism About Contacts With Gainutdin
Commenting on the prospects of cooperation with the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR), Tadzhuddin said, "we are not still ready for the establishment of the Supreme Islamic Council that could unite the main religious boards of Russia's Muslims." He again accused the SMR of "the practice of promotion and at least not counteracting Wahhabism and religious extremism." He said organizations that are members of the SMR capture mosques subordinate to Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM). He said a mosque in Krasnoufimsk, Sverdlovsk Oblast, was captured with the aid of the Religious Board of Muslims of the Asian Part of Russia. Tadzhuddin also said the Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board took over the Bulgar mosque in Kazan in which a residence of the TsDUM's Regional Muslim Religious Board was located. Tatarstan's Muslim Religious Board, however, does not recognize the existence of TsDUM's branch in the republic.

Commenting on the anti-extremism law passed recently by the State Duma, Tadzhuddin said that he, "as well as all Muslims of Russia, welcomes the adoption of that law."

Another Vodka Plant Director Resigns
The general director of the Chally affiliate of Usadskii Spirtzavod, Anas Gainetdinov, resigned on 15 July, reported on 16 July. Gainetdinov handed in his resignation after his chief, the director of the Usadskii Spirtzavod, Ivan Yegorov, was dismissed. Resignations in the companies subordinate to the republican Tatspirtprom monopoly took place after the government began implementation of its plan to rearrange Tatspirtprom affiliates and merge them into a single entity. Representatives of the aforementioned liquor/vodka plants, which are among the most profitable in the republic, expressed their concern about those plans, the agency said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Rakhimov Says He Respects Putin's 'Wise' Policies
In an interview with "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 13 July, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov said federalism in Russia is currently passing through difficult stages of development. Rakhimov recalled Lenin who, he said, used peoples' aspirations for statehood in the interests of the revolution, and he added that in late 20th century, there were no Soviet or Russian politicians who were able to do the same thing. Rakhimov said that he believes in what he called the "wise and foresightful" nationalities policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "He has demonstrated an understanding of the importance of nationalities issues," Rakhimov said.

Monuments To Crash Victims To Be Erected In Germany And Ufa
The transportation minister of the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Ulrich Mueller, has announced that Germany has begun work on a monument to the victims of the 1 July midair collision between a Bashkir Airlines passenger jet and a DHL cargo jet over southern Germany, Bashinform reported on 12 July (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 2 July 2002). The agency quoted Mueller as saying that Germany has already begun work on a possible design for the monument.

Another monument will be erected in Ufa, "Parlamentskaya gazeta" reported on 13 July. The paper cited Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov as saying that it will feature a scorched wing of a Tupolev 154 airplane.

TIU Leader Casts Doubts On Leadership Of Tatar Congress In Republic
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 17 July that the majority of the 55 members of the organizing committee of the Tatar congress in Bashkortostan are high-ranking government officials. Bashkortostan's Tatar Public Center (TIU) Chairman Airat Giniatullin told RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service that very few members of the committee were known to be defenders of Tatar rights. Giniatullin said, for example, that Mars Kammetev, head of Ufa's Kirov Raion administration, refused all appeals by Tatar civic organizations to stage meetings or demonstrations in his district. Giniatullin added that Kammetev also did not react to numerous appeals by the TIU and other Tatar organizations to replace the Gabdulla Tuqai memorial plaque that disappeared from a building near the Kirov Raion administration office. The administration head also refused appeals by Tatar groups to establish a Tatar school since school No. 119 had proven to be exemplary in terms of teaching the Tatar language in the district. Giniatullin said that at the present time, there are plans afoot to turn the school into a Tatar school.

Bashkir Leaders Question Ethnicity Of Tatars In Northwestern Districts
The opposition "Otechestvo" monthly newspaper published a report in its July issue concerning the demographics session of the second World Bashkir Congress held in June. A resolution passed at the congress called for "maintaining the number of, and the development of, the republic's indigenous population and for moving Bashkirs to their historical motherland, Bashkortostan." The resolution also said it was necessary "to remove the inequality in the economic development of the republic, to create conditions for ordinary life and development in districts where Bashkirs dominate in order to prevent their out-migration, to create new jobs in those territories, to appeal to Bashkirs living in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States to return to Bashkortostan, and to adopt a republican program on state support of immigrants with Bashkir roots."

The paper also quoted Bashkir leaders Niyaz Majitov and Marat Kulsharipov who said: "In the late 1980s, political authority in the republic was under the control of ultraradical, anti-Bashkir leadership. Bashkir civic forces did not take a firm position to defend their interests, [which resulted in] a great misrepresentation of the ethnic structure of the population during the 1989 census [in districts] populated by Tatars: Aski, Baqaly, Baltach, Birsk, Blagovar, Buzdyak, Borai, Dyurtoile, Yermekei, Ilesh, Krasnokama, Kushnarenkov, Mishkin, Miyaki, Nuriman, Teteshle, Tuimazy, Sharan, Chishme, and Yangawil, among others." Majitov and Kulsharipov claimed that as a result, Bashkirs were determined not to be the second-largest ethnic group in the republic, following Russians. "With the participation of authoritative experts, [however,] data have been collected that show objective information on the censuses in Bashkir villages from the 18th century to the 20th century. [These data] clearly show that the overwhelming majority of the population in the northern and northwestern districts of Bashkortostan is [made up of] Bashkirs, the direct descendants of the indigenous population." Majitov and Kulsharipov called on congress participants to do everything possible to make "[this] objective information available to every Bashkir family in cities, raions, and villages, [and] to tell, in every village, school, and club, the history of the villages, raions, the republic, and the Bashkir people, [and] to revive the traditional 'shejere' Bashkir holiday devoted to the history of families." Majitov and Kulsharipov said that this is intended "to help revive the historical memory [of Bashkirs] and tell [Bashkirs] about the history of their ancestors."

Bashkir Tax Police Get New Chief
Major General Ivan Ivanov of the Tax Police has been named the new head of the Federal Tax Police Administration in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported on 16 July. Ivanov was previously the head of the Federal Tax Police Administration in Kostromskaya Oblast. In taking over the post, he replaced Lieutenant General Engels Kulmukhametov, who was appointed deputy prime minister of the republic four months ago.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Four Teenagers Detained For Vandalism At Muslim Cemetery In Volgograd
Four teenagers between 14 and 16 years old were detained in Volgograd following an act of vandalism committed at the Muslim cemetery in the city's Traktorozavodskii Raion, RIA-Novosti reported on 12 July. On 10 July, vandals destroyed six gravestones and drew swastikas on them.

Kidnappers Convicted In Chavashia
Cheboksary's Moskovskii Raion Court sentenced the four kidnappers of schoolboy Bulat Kalmykov -- Miroslav Zhuravkov, Yelena Bogdanova, Oksana Vasilyeva, and Svetlana Smelova, reported on 17 July. The group initially unsuccessfully attempted to steal money from a company in which Vasilyeva worked and which was headed by Bulat Kalmykov's father. They then kidnapped Bulat, took him to Kazan, and were holding him there for two weeks until police freed him. Zhuravkov was sentenced to 10 years and six months in prison, Bogdanova to nine years, Vasilyeva to seven years and six months, and Smelova to four years in prison.

Drug Dealers Detained In Marii El
The Federal Security Service board in Marii El together with Tatarstan's Board on Fighting Illegal Drag Trafficking has revealed a network of heroin traffickers, reported on 18 July. Seven members of the criminal group were detained and charged. Several employees of the Marii El Interior Ministry involved were also revealed and are currently under investigation by prosecutors. Statistics of drug addicts using heroin in Marii El have more than doubled in 2001.

Village In Mordovia Without Electricity For One Year
Residents of the Mordovian village of Krasino in Dumenskii Raion lived without energy supply fir 12 months, "Trud" daily reported on 18 July citing Ima-Press. Residents had major debts for electricity consumed and were unable to pay either their back debt or for current deliveries of electricity.

Four Candidates For Nizhnii Mayor Registered
Viktor Barinov, editor in chief of "Leninskaya smena plyus" became the fourth candidate in the race for Nizhnii Novgorod mayor, Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 18 July. Businessman Andrei Klimentyev, postgraduate Rodion Zaslavskii, and director of the Svetloyar charity Aleksei Krislanov have already been registered as candidates. All told, 11 people have so far announced their intention to run for mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod.

State Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov leads popularity polls among the mayoral candidates with 23 percent, followed by Klimentyev with 13 percent, reported on 17 July citing "Izvestiya." Bulavinov enjoys the support of Volga Federal District presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko. Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev, however, backs the candidacy of his deputy, Yurii Sentyurin. "Izvestiya" cited a source in the Volga Federal District administration as saying that both Bulavinov and Sentyurin suit the Russian presidential administration but Sentyurin's poll rating is only 2 percent. It is important for the Kremlin to prevent the election of those "absolutely unacceptable" -- Klimentyev and incumbent Mayor Yurii Lebedev, the paper said.

The Nizhnii Novgorod mayoral elections are slated for 15 September.

U.S. Department Of Energy To Invest $4 Million In Nizhnii
The U.S. Department of Energy will invest $4 million in the development of conversion programs in Sarov, Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast, in the next two years, Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 18 July citing Westinghouse manager David Zigelman. Zigelman said that several projects have been successfully performed on the basis of Sarov's RFYaTs-VNIIEF research institute since 1999 when the cooperation between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast began. He listed the design and production of road-repair aggregates on GAZel chassis, education, and medical programs among them.

Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug Head Agrees On Merger With Perm Oblast
Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov during his visit to Perm the previous week persuaded Gennadii Savelyev, the head of the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug administration, of the advantages of merging the okrug with Perm Oblast, reported on 16 July citing "Nezavisimaya gazeta." Savelyev previously strongly opposed the idea but after Mironov's visit, radically changed his position, the site said. Perm Oblast Governor Yurii Trutnev was the initiator of the idea to integrate the two subjects. According to surveys, 75 to 90 percent of Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug residents questioned back the idea of merger with Perm Oblast.

Saratov Oblast Governor Eligible For Two More Terms
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov can be elected as governor for an additional two terms, in 2005 and 2010, according to a decision approved by the Saratov Oblast Duma on 18 July, Rosbalt reported the same day. The decision followed the ruling issued by the Russian Constitutional Court on 9 July, according to which terms in office of regional heads are counted beginning from October 1999. Ayatskov was elected governor in 1996 and 2000.

Udmurtia, India To Boost Ties
India's Ambassador to Russia Krishnan Raghunath visited Udmurtia where he met with republic's leadership and visited Izhevskii Radiozavod, Izhevskii Elektromekhanicheskii Zavod Kupol, and Izhmash, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 July. Raghunath said India plans to develop cooperation with the region in the pharmaceutical, food processing, educational, scientific, military, and technical sectors.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova