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Tatar-Bashkir Report: September 6, 2002

6 September 2002
Weekly: Moscow Gets The Undesired Articles Dropped From Tatar Congress Resolution...
The resolution adopted by the World Tatar Congress on 29 August didn't contain the previously included articles on the creation of the Tatar national university and adoption of the Latin Tatar script as the main Tatar script for use on the Internet, "Zvezda povolzhya" weekly reported on 5 September. The paper stated that despite being "harmless for Moscow," these articles were dropped because the federal government has "already let the congress know its negative attitude towards the ethnic university...and Putin, who reacted sharply to questions about Tatar script reform, personally asked Shaimiev to defer the Latin Tatar script reform."

...As Mayor's Man Becomes A World Tatar Congress Leader
The same weekly also wrote on 5 September that "although Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov was not given an opportunity to speak at the [World Tatar] Congress plenary session [on 29 August]," the fact that Rinat Zakirov was elected congress Executive Committee chairman "undoubtedly meant that Iskhakov won an important victory in light of the coming mayoral elections." The paper claimed that Zakirov, who is also the director of the Kazan National Culture Center, "is Kamil Iskhakov's man," and was elected to the Kazan City Council as a member of Iskhakov's team.

Tatenergo Reduces Energy Supplies To Industries, While Collective Farms Remain Major Debtors
According to Tatenergo's press service, the amount of electricity and heat supplied to consumers during he first half of 2002 fell by 3 percent and 14.5 percent respectively compared to the previous year, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 3 September. The decrease is explained by the production slumps at the Tuben Kama petrochemicals company, the Tuben Kama tire company, and the KamAZ automotive concern.

More than 97 percent of electricity produced during the first half of 2002 has already been paid for, which is 7.5 percent higher than in the same period of 2001. Eighty-eight percent of payments were made in cash, exceeding the previous year's figures by 14 percent.

Despite these positive trends, Tatarstan's collective farms reportedly remain the major debtor to Tatenergo, managing to contribute only 56 percent of payments for electricity consumed.

Tatar Prosecutor-General's Office Official Found Dead In Moscow
Moscow police found the body of Zaur Khakimov, a top investigator within Tatarstan's Prosecutor-General's Office, in the Moskva River on 5 September, reported. Khakimov reportedly was on a business trip to the Russian capital in connection with a felony case, currently being investigated by the Prosecutor-General's Office.

Duma Deputy Critical Of Federal Subventions To Tatarstan And Bashkortostan
Anatolii Aksakov, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Economic Policy and Entrepreneurship told on 5 September that the financing of the Tatar and Bashkir republics stipulated in the draft federal budget being discussed by Duma "required extra discussion," because these regions in his opinion, "were not the poorest ones, but due to a number of political reasons are [to be] financed in full." He emphasized that "we are not against these regions, but they must not be supported at the other regions' expense."

Matvienko Urges Kazan Administration To Promote Future Anniversary More Actively
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko told a meeting of the commission preparing for the Kazan millennium celebrations on 29 August that the city administration "does not ensure sufficient coverage" of the anniversary-related events by Russian and international mass media, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Matvienko added that the Russian Media Ministry was ready to provide assistance in arranging accreditation of correspondents to cover the event scheduled in 2005.

Tatar Congress Web Broadcast Watched Worldwide
About 1,300 viewers watched the plenary session of the World Tatar Congress on 29 August, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Tatarstan-New Century Television and the Warlock web-design studio organized the webcast, which attracted viewers in Russia, Canada, Finland, Turkey, Germany, Lithuania, Great Britain, Denmark, Netherlands, Czech Republic, France, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Australia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Israel, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and Sweden (according to the descending number of hits per country).

Alcohol Abuse Mars Republic, Kazan Day Celebrations
According to Tatarstan's Interior Ministry, 9,000 militia officers were on duty across the Tatar capital during that day's celebrations of Tatarstan's sovereignty declaration and Kazan's City Day celebrations, reported on 30 August. No incidents in connection with VIP guests such as President Putin or Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov taking part in the festivities were registered.

Nevertheless, one murder and four suicides were committed by drunken individuals during the celebrations, and eight children between 14-16 years of age were hospitalized because of vodka poisoning.

Tatneft Announces Plans To Drop Non-Oil-Industry Ventures From Its Balance
The Tatneft oil company plans to sell off its shares in 13 Tatar companies which are not oil-industry-related, AK&M agency reported on 3 August. The list includes Tatincom-T mobile-telephone network, RTT radio-telephone company, Elmet Liquor-Vodka plant, Elmet Alcohol Plant, and Elmet Pipe Plant.

Two Deputy Education Ministers Sacked For Violations In Tender Procedure
Tatarstan's Cabinet of Ministers on 5 September adopted a decree dismissing Deputy Education Ministers Ilsur Khadiullin and Tahir Gafurov, Intertat reported. They were fired because of violations during a recent tender to perform maintenance on school buildings (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 19 August and 3 September 2002).

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Tatar Groups Assert 'Critical' Shortcomings
"Zvezda povolzhya" on 29 August published an appeal to delegates of the third World Tatar Congress by a number of Bashkortostan's Tatar civic groups. The document, adopted by those groups at a 10 August congress, is called "The Critical State Of Tatars In Bashkortostan In The Spheres Of Education, Culture, Media, And Training." The authors asserted that Tatar, the language of more than one-third of Bashkortostan residents and the republic's second-largest ethnic group following Russians, has been deprived of state-language status -- a fact that violates the principle of equality in the republic. The appeal also called for the immediate abolition of that language legislation.

The Tatar community said the training of educators for Tatar nursery schools in Bashkortostan is less than one-tenth of that for similar Russian and Bashkir facilities, and asserted that the per-capita figure for Tatars is one-twenty-fifth of that for Bashkirs. There is one-third of the teacher training for Tatar primary schools, compared with Russian schools, while the figure is only slightly higher in comparison to Bashkir schools. The Tatar representatives claim that in the 1992-93 school year, 13.4 percent of Tatar children attended Tatar schools, while by 1999-2000 the rate had fallen to 10.6 percent. The portion of Bashkir children studying at Bashkir schools grew in the same period, from 35 to 39.7 percent. Of the republic's 70 secondary schools, 43 are Bashkir and two are Tatar.

The Tatar groups also presented figures on the media. Television and radio broadcasts in the Tatar language compose 1 percent of total broadcasting in the republic, while Tatarstan's television and radio companies are hindered in broadcasting on Bashkortostan's territory, the authors asserted. There is not a single newspaper or magazine for children in Tatar in Bashkortostan, they said. All told, the authors said 33 magazines are published in the republic: 23 are issued in Russian, representing 432,000 copies a year; nine are issued in Bashkir, including 1.2 million copies a year; and one is in Tatar, representing 172,000 copies a year.

The print media was covered, too. Local publishing house Kitap issued 163 books in 2001 -- 95 of them in Bashkir, 38 in Russian, and 11 in Tatar. The number of Tatar books is just one-sixteenth of that of Bashkir-language publications, while the per capita rate for Tatar-language books is one-fortieth of that for Bashkir.

The authors noted that Bashkirs constitute a majority of senior officials in Bashkortostan. Two-thirds of the Cabinet of Ministers are Bashkirs, they reported, Russians make up 19 percent, and Tatars 14 percent. In the parliament's lower chamber those groups' representation is 55, 20, and 15 percent, respectively, the document stated. In the upper chamber, the figures were said to be 42, 23, and 29 percent, respectively. Fifty-eight percent of city and raion administration heads are Bashkirs, 15 percent Russians, and 19 percent Tatars, according to the Tatar-community representatives.

Deputies Comment On Idea Of Tatar-Bashkir Confederation
In an interview with "Zvezda povolzhya" on 29 August, State Duma Deputy Fendes Safiullin said the idea of a confederation of the Bashkir and Tatar peoples is naturally determined. Safiullin said the two nations, Bashkir and Tatar, constitute a united people and in order to survive they must find a method of unification. Safiullin said would have proposed a resolution on the Tatar-Bashkir union if he had spoken at the third World Tatar Congress. Safiullin said the fact that Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov was elected as a delegate to the Tatar Congress means that he acknowledges himself to be a Bashkir Tatar.

Two years ago, President Rakhimov suggested that a Tatar-Bashkir confederation be established and joint sessions of the parliaments of the two republics be held. Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev suggested at the time that Ufa be made the confederation's capital.

Meanwhile, Tatarstan State Council Presidium member Marat Geliev told "Zvezda povolzhya" on 5 September that he believes in the unavoidable nature of a Tatar-Bashkir union. Geliev said Tatar-Bashkir relations have had their ups and downs in the past century, when rapprochement was followed by periods of coolness. But the two peoples have been well aware of their relationship even in the periods of coolness, he said.

Justices Said To Have Withdrawn From Council Of Judges
Bashkortostan's three justices of the peace left the republican Council of Judges to express their discontent with what they call a critical situation at the council and within the judicial community, Bashinform reported on 4 September, citing an unidentified official source. Republican Justice Minister Vladimir Spele told Bashinform on 5 September that the Council of Judges is illegitimate, since the republic's Arbitration Court and Constitution Court refused to elect representatives to the body to protest the fact that more than a half of council's members are federal judges. The judges who withdrew from the council have reiterated their negative attitude toward the situation at the Supreme Court, Spele said. He called on federal authorities to clarify as soon as possible issues connected with the activities of Supreme Council Chairman Marat Wekilev in order to resolve the crisis (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10 June).

Bashkortostan's Mufti Denies Reports On Joining TsDUM
Bashkortostan's Muslim Religious Board (DUM RB) Chairman Nurmokhemmet Nigmetullin denied rumors that the heads of Russia's Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM), headed by Mufti Telget Tajetdin were joining his board, reported on 5 September. Nigmetullin said DUM RB will remain a member of the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR) and added that the heads of the SMR, as well as Tatarstan Mufti Gosman Iskhakov, will take part in a congress of Bashkortostan's Muslims later this year. The agency cited an identified source as saying the idea of DUM RB returning to TsDUM enjoys support among republican leaders seeking to combine two parallel Muslim organizations in the republic.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Marii El Court Says Defense Ministry Must Pay 500,000 For Soldier Killed
A Yoshkar-Ola court has ruled that the Russian Defense Ministry has to pay 500,000 rubles ($16,000) to the father of soldier Stanislav Vlasov, who died in Chechnya through the fault of his commanders, Privolzhe news agency reported on 2 September. Vlasov served in a special operations detachment. During an operation led by Major General Cherkashenko, the detachment was surrounded by Chechen fighters and then its portable radio transmitter stopped working. Commanders decided that the detachment had left the danger zone and sent in an air strike. Cherkashenko was sued for negligence and was dismissed from the army. Relatives of the dead servicemen were paid 160 minimum wages.

Mordovian Official Says Islam Provides Well-Being
Mordovian Deputy Prime Minister Valentin Konakov said living conditions of Muslim residents are higher those of followers of other faiths in the republic, reported on 5 September. This can be explained by the peculiarities of Islam, he said, adding that the connection between well-being and religion is obvious in this case. Konakov, who was speaking at the opening ceremony of a new mosque in Aksenovo, said there is no hard drinking in Muslim villages, and there is respect for the role of the family.

Nizhnii Court Annuls Registration Of Double In Mayoral Race
A Nizhnii Novgorod Raion court has abolished the registration of the deputy head of the Society for Defense of the Blind, Mikhail Dikin, a "double" of the deputy chairman of the oblast Legislative Assembly, as a candidate in the Nizhnii Novgorod mayoral elections, Privolzhe reported on 5 September. The court justified its ruling by the fact that Dikin, the one representing the Society for Defense of the Blind, published in media materials compromising Dikin being a Legislative Assembly deputy. The court added that no Society for Defense of the Blind has been registered anywhere. The agency reported that Dikin from the society changed his name shortly before he appealed for registration as a candidate. The Russian abbreviation of the Society for Defense of the Blind, OZS, is the same like that of the oblast Legislative Assembly.

Prosecutors Seize Documents At VAZ
A group of investigators from the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office seized on 21 August documents at AvtoVAZ and in the Samara Oblast administration, reported on 31 August citing "Reporter" daily. The daily said the seizure was part of a criminal case filed by the Prosecutor-General's Office in connection with assumed fraud during tax payments by AvtoVAZ to the oblast budget in 1997. The group is headed by special investigator Salavat Kerimov and includes four investigators from the Prosecutor-General's Office and two senior officials from the Federal Security Service.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Federal Official Meets With Mufti
Chief federal inspector for the Sverdlovsk Oblast Viktor Baidukov met on 4 September with head of the Sverdlovsk Oblast Muslim Religious Board Sibgatulla Saidullin, at which the two negotiated implementation of the agreement on cooperation signed in March by Ural Federal District presidential envoy Petr Latyshev and Supreme Mufti of Russia Talgat Tadzhuddin, reported the same day. Baidukov praised Saidullin's contribution to strengthening interethnic and interconfessional peace and concord in Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Sverdlovsk Companies Employ Foreigners
Sverdlovsk enterprises will employ 50 citizens of Tajikistan in harvesting this year, "Novyi region" reported on 4 September. Seventy more migrants from Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Tajikistan will be hired by several Ural companies to work as bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, and auxiliary workers. The issue was discussed at a meeting of the interdepartmental commission in charge of the use of foreign labor force in the oblast. It was reported at the meeting that companies are forced to invite foreign workers because of the inability of employment services to supply enterprises with employees.

Environmentalists, Residents Protest Construction Of Plant To Destroy Fuel Rockets In Udmurtia
Nizhnii Novgorod environmentalists from the Union for Chemical Safety appealed to President Vladimir Putin to prohibit the construction of the plant for destroying fuel rockets in Udmurtia's Votkinsk, Privolzhye reported on 3 September. Numerous Russian environmentalist groups signed the appeal, which claims that the construction of the facility could result in an environmental catastrophe in Udmurtia and neighboring regions. The plant is designed to incinerate the rockets, during which dioxins are generated, a technology that does not meet Russian standards. The construction of the plant has continued despite protests from republic residents and public groups.

The previous day, a group of residents from the Novye Lyady village in Perm Oblast, which neighbors Udmurtia, also appealed to President Putin to protest the construction of the plant in Votkinsk, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 2 September.

Mufti Says Muslim Women Will Continue Fighting For Permission To Cover Head In Passport
Mufti of the Volga region Muslim Religious Board Moqeddes Bibarsov said that Muslim women will continue defending their right to wear headscarves in passport photos, despite the fact that courts have so far refused to allow them to do so, reported on 4 September. Bibarsov said head covering is a real religious obligation, not just something that came into fashion. He said the comment on the issue at the World Tatar Congress by President Putin, who compared Islam's requirement with fashion, was tactless. Bibarsov stressed that freedom of consciousness is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova