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Tatar-Bashkir Report: August 2, 2002

2 August 2002
Emigre Chemist Says National Republics At Mercy Of Moscow
In an interview published in "Medeni jomga" weekly on 26 July, Vil Mirzayanov, a chemistry professor who emigrated from Russia and is currently living in the United States, said there was much more democracy in Russia seven years ago when he emigrated. Mirzayanov was imprisoned in Russia in the 1990s for making public statements that Russia was still producing chemical weapons, despite claims by the country's leaders that this was not the case.

Mirzayanov said in the interview that national republics are now under Moscow's thumb and human-rights violations are seen most clearly in the example of the Chechen people, who he said are being annihilated. Mirzayanov asserted that Russia cannot be called a democratic country since it cannot give up its imperial ideas and it has not implemented the majority of its obligations for defending peoples' rights. Mirzayanov said that what he called an anti-Tatar campaign being carried out in advance of the October national census is an example of this.

Mirzayanov said that not a single republic or people of Russia has appealed to the United Nations to help them be freed from colonial dependence and he called on Russia's peoples to do so.

Republican Party Leader Speaks Out About Tatar Politicians
"Zvezda povolzhya" quoted the leader of the Republican Party of Tatarstan, former Tatar Prime Minister Mukhammat Sabirov, on 26 July as saying that his party will put forward a candidate for the next mayoral elections in Kazan, though it won't necessarily be him. He did not exclude the possibility that the party will support incumbent Mayor Kamil Iskhakov.

Sabirov also said that past State Council elections in the republic have been "100 percent unfair." He said his party's members feel they were deceived by the Tatarstan-New Century movement with which they had formed an electoral bloc. Sabirov said he had facts showing how he was "drowned" during parliamentary elections but that he did not appeal to the courts so as not to provoke a scandal. Sabirov also claimed that telephone conversations of Republican Party members are tapped.

Sabirov said his party, which has 3,500 members, presents a moderate and constructive opposition. He recognized the achievements of President Mintimer Shaimiev and said he supports him on strategic issues.

Sabirov also commented on his relations with Rafgat Altynbaev, Tatarstan's representative in the Federation Council, saying he cannot forgive Altynbaev for his "treachery" during the last presidential campaign in Tatarstan. Sabirov said that a week before Altynbaev withdrew his candidacy, he swore that he wouldn't do so and that he would stay in the race until the end. Sabirov said he was mistaken about Altynbaev and now he is happy that Altynbaev did not become president.

Political Scientist Says Court Ruling Violates Principle Of Regional Equality...
In an interview published in "Vremya i dengi" on 26 July, the head of the Political Science Department at Kazan State University, Midkhat Farukshin, commented on the ruling by the Russian Constitutional Court that permits regional leaders to be elected for more than two terms in office, saying that it violates the principle of the equality of federation subjects that is stipulated by the Russian Constitution (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 July 2002). Farukshin said that the Russian president will likely someday be allowed to run for more than two consecutive terms as well.

...Predicts Next Tatar President Will Be Nominated By Moscow...
Farukshin said President Shaimiev is unlikely to run for president again, as he stated in January 2001. Farukshin added that his likely successor will probably be a candidate proposed by Moscow.

...And Comments On Relations With Moscow
Commenting on the amended version of the 1994 power-sharing treaty between Moscow and Kazan that was recently presented to the federal government, Farukshin said the document was prepared in secret and that Moscow is not likely to make any significant concessions. Farukshin added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already established a vertical power structure and has subordinated regional leaders to his power, and the Tatar leadership does not have the resources to put pressure on Moscow. He added that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the republic's leaders could say that they would be unable to handle nationalist movements if they were deprived of powers, but now only 20 or 30 people are staging protests.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatar Congress Gets Government's Attention
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 28 July that over the last several days, the "Respublika Bashkortostan" daily and other official press outlets have published a number of reports saying that Bashkortostan's leadership is paying great attention to the upcoming second Congress of Tatars in the republic. To support this statement, the local press pointed to the appointment of Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov as chairman of the Tatar Congress's organization and preparation committee.

Meanwhile, during his 23 July press conference at the Bashinform news agency, chief executive of the Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan Eduard Khamitov thanked the Bashkir government for caring about Tatars in Bashkortostan. Khamitov mentioned the ongoing construction of Tatar "Nur" drama theater in Ufa, which began some seven years ago, as proof of this concern.

Nevertheless, RFE/RL's correspondent reported that preparations for the 3 August Tatar Congress in Bashkortostan receive much less coverage in republic media compared to the coverage of the July 2002 World Bashkir Congress, even though Tatars represent the second-largest ethnic group in Bashkortostan after Russians.

Sterlitamaq Elects Bashkir Officials As Delegates For The Tatar Congresses
The Sterlitamaq city conference of the local Tatar community on 30 July elected Bashkir Prime Minister Baydavletov, Bashkir State Assembly Deputy Chairman Minnirais Ishmuratov, Legislative Chamber Chairman Fanis Amerov, and Deputy Prime Minister Khalyaf Ishmuratov among its 28 delegates to the Congress of Tatars in Bashkortostan, Bashinform reported. The agency quoted the participants of the conference as saying that the delegates will ensure the "decent representation of Sterlitamaq's Tatars at the second Congress of Bashkortostan's Tatars on 3 August in Ufa and at the third World Tatar Congress" in Kazan later this month.

Tatar Scholar Says 3 July Forum To Be 'Formal Event'
Bashkir State University Tatar Philology scholar Ildus Fuazetdinov told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 30 July that in his opinion the 3 August forum of Tatars in Bashkortostan will not discuss the problems faced by the Tatar people there, but will formally elect delegates for the World Tatar Congress to be held in late August 2002. He said that he was bewildered by that the majority of those on the Tatar Congress's organization committee in Bashkortostan were republic officials of non-Tatar nationality. In Fuazetdinov's opinion, local Tatar intelligentsia should have had more representation among the event's organizers.

Bespalov Says Amendment To Allow Government Executives To Work In Political Parties Coming...
This fall's session of the Russian State Duma plans to amend the federal law on political parties, reported on 31 July citing the Unified Russia party's General Council Chairman Aleksandr Bespalov, speaking at a press conference in Ufa the same day. Bespalov said that the amendment would be designed to allow "A" category state officials (prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, ministers) to be members of political parties. Bespalov spoke in favor of the draft, " must be visible who is whose." In his opinion this would abolish the necessity of creating the party's supreme council, in which Unified Russia currently has Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev, and Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu.

However, Shoigu had no legal difficulties in the past when combining his ministerial duties and his work as a pro-Putin Unity party leader during 1999 Duma election campaign, although this is formally in violation of federal law.

On 30 July Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister in charge of agriculture Shamil Vakhitov was appointed head of the newly opened Russian Agrarian Movement (RAD) branch in the republic, while Agriculture Minister Grigorii Gorobets and other Agriculture Ministry officials were elected his deputies.

...Outlines His Party's Views On Moscow's Relations With Regions
Bespalov said at a meeting with Bashkir State Assembly deputies on 31 July in Ufa that his party "was not a party of power...but intended to become a ruling party my legal means, which is natural."

Bespalov also said that in his opinion, the Russian president "needed to have the right to dismiss those governors who fail to fulfill their obligations," while "heads of the federation's entities must have an opportunity to participate in composing the country's budget."

Official Unemployment Drops
According to the Bashkir branch of the federal employment service on 31 July, official unemployment figures have decreased from 1.8 percent in January to 1.65 percent in June, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported the same day. Some 70,000 people have applied to the republic's labor exchanges so far in 2002, 46,000 of whom were reportedly re-employed.

UralSib Bank Cooperates With German Banks In Loan
The press service of Bashkortostan's UralSib Bank announced on 30 July that earlier that month UralSib authorized Raiffeisenbank of Austria to organize for it a syndicated loan of $20 million for a 1-year term. The loan project was reportedly joined by Germany's Dresdner Bank, Commerzbank, RZB Group, and American Express Bank. In late 2001 UralSib attracted a similar $20 million loan with the help of the German Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein bank.

Compiled By Iskender Nurmi

Chavash Legislature Re-Elects Speaker
Mikhail Mikhailovskii was re-elected on 29 July as speaker of the Chavash parliament, "NTA Privolzhe" reported the same day. Well-known surgeon Valeryan Karpov, deputy from Novocheboksarsk, was elected deputy State Council chairman. Chavash President Nikolai Fedorov congratulated Mikhailovskii and called on deputies to work in cooperation, saying, "Deputies are elected not to fight executive power but to work with it." Parliamentary elections were held in Chavashia on 21 July.

Did Radiation Level Jump In Kyshtym?
A radiation level almost ten times the safe level was registered on 24 July by the automatic system of atmosphere monitoring in Kyshtym in Chelyabinsk Oblast, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 26 July. The level recorded on 24 July was 242 microroentgens per hour while the permissible level is 25 microroentgens per hour. On 25 July, the rate was down to 50 microroentgens per hour.

A commission established at Chelyabinsk Oblast's Chief Board of Radiation and Environmental Safety stated on 31 July that the data were not confirmed by the data received by other control stations, Ural-Press-Inform reported the same day. The agency said the commission agreed following long debate that the radiation level in Kyshtym did not in fact increase and the data were incorrect because of device error.

Ekologiya enterprise director Viktor Glazkov said, however, that the radiation level grew constantly beginning on 6 May and reached 426 microroentgens per hour on 10 July. He also said that in early July, the devices were checked by experts from the Snezhinsk Federal Nuclear Center and were found to be in order.

Kyshtym is 15 kilometers from the closed city of Ozersk where the Mayak group of enterprises dealing with nuclear materials is located. An electronic screen showing the radiation level was installed in downtown Kyshtym by specialists from Ozersk several years ago, but was soon dismantled, immediately after it registered radiation exceeding the permissible level, the agency said.

Skinheads Beat Military Journalist
Two skinheads on 27 July in downtown Penza beat 53-year-old reservist Lieutenant Colonel Yurii Sorkin, the author of an article in a local newspaper against the spread of national-patriotism in the region, "NTA Privolzhe" reported on 30 July. Sorkin said two skinheads invited him into their car for a talk and when he refused began beating him on the head.

Sorkin said he published an article in the local press after a program was broadcast on local state radio on 19 April in which the authors concluded that Penza skinheads are true patriots unlike "mercenary scribblers" of some Penza outlets. Speaking about the fate of Orthodox patriotism, the program moderator said she wouldn't be surprised if "a cudgel of anger" of patriotic youth comes down on the heads of similar reporters. Sorkin said he had been waiting for a long time for an official reaction to the repeatedly transmitted program, but then responded himself.

Volga District Envoy Says Gornyi Facility To Be Launched On 12 August
The government commission on chemical disarmament headed by presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko discussed on 25 July in Moscow preparations for launching of a facility for destroying chemical weapons in Gornyi in Saratov Oblast, "NTA Privolzhe" reported on 26 July. Kirienko told reporters following the meeting that Russia's international obligation under the Convention on Destroying Chemical Weapons to complete the destruction of 1 percent of Russian chemical weapons by 29 April 2003 is more important than when the plant in Gornyi is launched. Kirienko said the plant is expected to be opened on 12 August. Kirienko thanked Germany for the aid provided in construction of the Gornyi facility and said the commission invited German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to take part in the opening ceremony.

Kirienko said an audit has been held to inspect financing chemical disarmament in Russia and obtained data were passed to corresponding ministries and bodies to overcome shortcomings found.

Commenting on the construction of a chemical-weapons-destruction plant in Shchuche in Kurgan Oblast, Kirienko said an alternative variant for financing the construction is being developed, since the necessary funds have not been transferred by the American side. According to previous agreements, the United States had agreed to finance the project and $50 million in 2002 and $130 million in 2003 were budgeted to this end. But the U.S. stopped providing funds because Russia failed to keep its obligations within the framework of the agreement.

Russian Organization Demands Investigation Of Attack On Journalist
The Russian National Cultural Autonomy organization staged a picket in front of the building of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Chief Prosecutors' Board on 25 July to demand a more efficient and rapid investigation of the attack on "Russkaya obshchina Yekaterinburga" Editor in Chief Sergei Pilshchikov, Region-Inform reported on 26 July. Pilshchikov was beaten by two unknown persons on 17 July at 7.00 p.m. The demonstrators believe the crime was contracted.

Egypt's Sirocco Airspace Invests $280 Million In Aviastar
The Egyptian company Sirocco Airspace has invested $280 million in construction of Tu-204 jets at the Ulyanovsk-based aviation plant Aviastar, RosBalt reported on 27 July. Aviastar Deputy General Director Valerii Voskoboinikov told the agency that a corresponding agreement was signed at the international air show in Farnboro near London (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 14 June 2002). Voskoboinikov said the event is "the first serious foreign investment in the history of Russian aviation industry." The Ulyanovsk aircraft manufacturers have received an order from Sirocco for construction of five jets. Voskoboinikov also said the plant plans deliveries to China and is holding negotiations on cooperation with Iran.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova