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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 4, 2002

4 October 2002
Academician Discuss Role Of Ethnicity In National Census...
In an article published in "Zvezda povolzhya" on 27 September, the director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Valerii Tishkov, said that national congresses like the World Tatar Congress held in Kazan on 28-29 August often pass authoritarian resolutions. Tishkov added that "the gathering in Kazan that was called the World Tatar Congress was nothing more than a portion of local residents of Tatar ethnicity who act like an ethnically based party..., [which is] the outcome of weakened state power and a crisis of civic identity." Tishkov added that the decisions made by such congresses are often questionable and illegitimate.

Tishkov said that the congress's appeal to Tatars to maintain ethnic solidarity in the upcoming national census was an example of "the immodest self-glorification of Tatars as a great people." He said that a campaign has been waged for months against the separation of Tatars into various ethnic groups, such as Christian Tatars and Siberian Tatars, and that the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology has been labeled an enemy in this campaign for allegedly beginning this "anti-Tatar" movement. Tishkov said that, in fact, the list of ethnicities that the institute developed for the census "reflects changes in...the self-identity and political organization of certain groups that have cultural differences." Tishkov said that the "dramatization of a nonexistent problem" will likely lead to the registration of more people as "great Tatars," including those who have doubts about their association with this group. Tishkov said he also believes that local statistics agencies will also play a hand in the outcome of the census, adding that "federal authorities are afraid to interfere in their activities."

...As Paper Predicts Decrease Of Tatars In Census
"Vremya novostei" daily predicted on 4 October that the results of the upcoming national census will indicate Tatars as a minority in their own republic. The paper suggested that this is because those who were registered as Tatars in the last census in 1989 will now have the opportunity to register themselves as belonging to any one of a number of groups, including Christian Tatars and Mishers for those in Tatarstan, as well as Astrakhan Tatars and Siberian Tatars for those outside the republic. Siberian Tatars can be further divided into Tomsk Tatars, Tyumen Tatars, and Baraba Tatars, among others.

The head of the Tyumen Tatar National Cultural Autonomy, Faizulla Kamalov, recently called on Tatars in Tyumen to identify themselves as Siberian Tatars so that they could obtain the status of an indigenous people and the privileges such status provides.

Tyumen Mufti Galimzyan Bikmullin, however, appealed to Tatars to identify themselves simply as Tatars in order to maintain the integrity of the Tatar nation, the paper said.

The paper concluded by saying that if the number of Tatars in the republic falls below the number of Russians, then the nationalist opposition in Tatarstan, which "was driven into a corner" by Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev in the early 1990s, will likely rise up again.

Paper Calls Women Seeking To Wear Headscarves In Passport Photographs 'Islamic Fundamentals'
The twice-monthly "NG-Religii" published an article on 2 October calling those Muslim women who filed lawsuits seeking permission to wear traditional headscarves in their passport photographs "Islamic fundamentalists," (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 October and 5 August 2002). The article noted that it is impossible in a secular state like Russia to meet the wishes of all religions. The author said that such lawsuits were attempts by Tatar separatists and Islamic fundamentalists to test the strength of federal authorities and to try to split Russia along religious lines.

Regular Air Service Established Between Tatarstan, China
Tatarstan Airlines has completed its maiden voyage on its new route to Urumchi, China, reported on 30 September (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 September 2002). The flight brought a 60-member delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shvetsov, via Omsk to the center of China's Uighur autonomous district. The agency also reported that the Kazan Helicopter Plant is planning to establish a service center in Urumchi.

KamAZ Moving Toward European-Standard Engines
KamAZ general director Sergei Kogogin said the automobile concern is ready to implement a government resolution restricting the use of Euro-0-standard engines in trucks and buses as of 1 December, "Vremya i dengi" daily reported on 3 October. Kogogin said the concern has been installing only Euro-1 and Euro-2 engines on its automobiles since the beginning of the year.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Paper Claims Baptized Tatars In Bashkortostan Are Treated Differently Than In Tatarstan...
Bashkortostan's edition of the daily "Komsomolskaya Pravda" on 1 October published an article called "Baptized Tatars in Bashkortostan are not Tatars any more." The article said that the "governments of Bashkortostan and Udmurtia don't mind [the Baptized Tatars'] right to be considered Kreshens, but in Tatarstan they think that this right is dubious." The article went on to say that "the world's experience shows that once people have matured and begun to struggle for their right to be considered a 'people' and not a 'national-cultural autonomy,' the status Kreshens are given in Tatarstan, it is impossible to stop them."

...As Public Organization Promotes 'Kreshen' Ethnic Identity Ahead Of Census
The National-Cultural Center (RNKTs) of Kreshens in Bashkortostan gathered in the Baqali village, Baqali region, on 1 October to adopt a special appeal to the Kreshen community in the republic urging them to identify themselves as Kreshens, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The document referred to Kreshens as a separate nationality, without mentioning that this name is a Tatar translation of "Baptized Tatars."

Small Businesses Support Proves Effective In Bashkortostan's Regions
Deputy minister of Industry, Foreign Affairs and Trade Robert Wahapov spoke in Ufa on 2 October about the effect of the Bashkir presidential decree of 12 July 1999, which partially freed small businesses in 19 of Bashkortostan's 54 regions from the profit tax and lifted obligatory payments to the republican nonbudget fund for agriculture as well as the depreciation fund. The decree gave these tax breaks to businesses in the agricultural sector, housing companies, consumer service providers, and firms involved in domestic tourism. According to the document, small businesses were also freed from the vehicle tax and the road tax starting in April 2000. As a result the number of small businesses in those regions doubled by July, the report claims, reaching 10,000, while unemployment rates reportedly dropped twofold. Wahapov also emphasized that during the first half of 2002 these businesses paid 26.9 million rubles ($848,000) in taxes, which is 10 times higher than their tax payments in 1999.

Bashkir Publicist Urges End To Bashkir-Tatar Problems
Bashkir poet and journalist Gyilman Ishkinin, in an interview with an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent on 30 September, said that "on the current stage of Tatar-Bashkir relations both peoples consider each other to be the reason for their problems, at the same time forgetting that a unitary state is being formed in Russia, nationalities and ethnic languages are being destroyed." He proposed that the presidents, politicians, and public figures of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan "should meet and discuss ways to stop the mutual chauvinism and opposition."

Rich Harvest Doesn't Improve Economic Situation In Agriculture...
Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov held a teleconference with republican regional and agricultural ministry officials to discuss the results of this year's harvest. Baydavletov praised government officials and the farmers for having collected more than 4.3 million tons of grain, though he added that there were "problems in the agricultural industry complex, which need an urgent resolution." He said the republican government has so far received only 50 percent of the grain it is owed in repayment for the loans it gave to farmers this spring.

...As Agriculture Minister Promotes The Use Of Horses By Farmers
Minister of Agriculture Grigorii Gorobets criticized, at the same teleconference, some of the republic's regions for allowing a reduction of the number of horses by 17-22 percent, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 3 October. He emphasized that "now, when there is a deficit of [agricultural] machinery, fuel, motor oil, and spare parts are so expensive, a real landowner would hold on to his horse."

Public Body Established To Monitor Use Of Natural Resources
Vladimir Goryachev, chief of Bashkortostan's Board of Natural Resources, told Bashinform on 3 October that "soon a Public Ecological Council will be formed" under his board for enabling more interaction between the state environmentalists and residents of Bashkortostan. The council is also expected to distribute information on environmental regulations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Anniversary Of Nuclear Disaster Marked In Chelyabinsk Oblast
Chelyabinsk Oblast environmental organizations and the Yabloko party held a March of Memory, meetings, and mourning ceremonies in the villages of Tatarskaya Karabolka, Kasli, and Kyshtym to mark the 45th anniversary of the radiation disaster at the Mayak company, Region-Inform reported on 30 September. Residents of the territories affected by radiation demanded that they be paid adequate compensation for the damage to their health and moral harm, while currently they are paid 30 rubles a month. Meeting participants protested against the renewal of the construction of Mayak's South Ural nuclear station and the import of spent nuclear fuel from abroad.

Residents of the village of Tatarskaya Karabolka lived in an area polluted by radiation for 45 years, though according to corresponding documents they were moved out long ago. High radiation levels are still being registered near the village and experts from the Russian Meteorology Committee say the land there is not fit for growing vegetables or grazing cattle. The previous year, a 13-year-old girl died in the village of a rare disease caused by radiation and two kids were recently hospitalized on suspicion of having the same disease.

Cossacks To Be Counted Separately From Russians In Census
Head of the Russian presidential board on Cossacks issues Petr Deinekin told the Chelyabinsk Oblast Cossacks Society that Cossacks will be counted separately from Russians in the October national census, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 3 October. This decision was approved at a meeting of the state commission on holding the Russia-wide census headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The number of Cossacks will be counted in every federation subject and in the whole country.

Kirienko Comments On Nizhnii Mayoral Elections
Presidential envoy for the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko said on 1 October that "the main problem of Nizhnii Novgorod is endless political wars, and the election of a new mayor could lead to the end of those wars," reported on 2 October citing the envoy's press service. Kirienko commented on the results of the Nizhnii Novgorod mayoral elections in which State Duma Deputy Vadim Bulavinov, a favorite of the district administration, gathered 2,000 votes, or 1.5 percent, more than his competitor, incumbent Mayor Yurii Lebedev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September and 1 October 2002). Kirienko commented on the decision of a Nizhnii Novgorod raion court to terminate the counting of ballots in territorial commissions, saying, "there was a treatment with distrust of territorial electoral commissions," which "were not controlled by any other bodies except raion administrations." Kirienko said, "We suspected that attempts could be made to open electoral districts and to count twice ballots in which votes were given for the winner [Bulavinov]."

A Volga Federal District administration official told "Kommersant" on 30 September that if Yurii Lebedev won the elections, a court would subsequently hear appeals against Lebedev's violations during the electoral campaign, and the election results would be annulled. Then the Nizhnii mayoral elections might become grounds for changing existing legislation and abolishment of general elections of local self-government heads and introduction of electing mayors by city legislative bodies. A draft federal law on general principles of organization of local self-government developed by the Russian presidential administration provides such a possibility, "Kommersant" reported.

Another Journalist Attacked In Penza...
Two youths on 26 September beat former "Izvestiya" correspondent in Saratov, Penza, and Mordovia and current head of the Rossiya movement in Penza, Aleksandr Kislov, the Privolzhe news agency reported on 27 September. Kislov, 54, was hospitalized with head injuries after the men attacked him in the street and beat him with bats and pipes. Kislov is the founder of the first democratic outlet in Penza. He lost the elections to the Russian State Duma in 1999 and to the Penza Oblast Legislative Assembly in 2002, the agency reported.

The case continued a series of attacks against journalists in Penza Oblast that have taken place in the past two months. On 20 September, "Moskovskii komsomolets v Penze" security department head Igor Salikov was killed (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 27 September 2002). "Penzenskaya pravda" reporter Viktor Shamaev was kidnapped and severely beaten on 14 September. On 11 September, Editor in Chief Anton Sharov and three other correspondents of Penza's opposition procommunist newspaper "Lyubimyi gorod" were severely beaten (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 20 September 2002). Two skinheads on 27 July beat military journalist Yurii Sorkin, the author of an article in a local newspaper against the spread of national-patriotism in the region (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Weekly Review," 2 August 2002).

...As International Human Rights Organizations Protest Violence Against Journalists In Penza
The executive director of the U.S.-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists, Ann Cooper, in a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed deep concern about the recent wave of violence against journalists in Penza and called for taking all possible measures for investigating and condemning those guilty, Privolzhe reported on 2 October. Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Menard appealed to Russian Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov to call on federal and regional authorities not to ignore those crimes. Glasnost Defense Fund President Aleksei Simonov stressed in his appeal to Prosecutor-General Ustinov that law-enforcement bodies in some cases delayed filing suits.

Russian Traders Believe Their Non-Russian Competitors Enjoy Privileges
A group of market traders of Russian nationality in Solikamsk of Perm Oblast appealed to the local Interior Ministry branch to complain that their rights are being infringed, reported on 3 October. Traders selling on a market in downtown Solikamsk said the market administration provides private privileges in renting trading places to non-Russian businessmen.

Saratov's Ayatskov Promotes Appointment Of Governors
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov called for changing the order of electing heads of federation entities and for electing them by regional parliaments, Region-Inform reported on 1 October. "The head of state proposes to a legislative assembly of a federation subject a candidacy for governor's post, and local parliamentarians confirm that candidacy or reject it. Such a system would cost the state budget much less, while an elected governor would feel more strongly his responsibility," Ayatskov said. He also suggested that governors appoint heads of municipal entities and city mayors.

Village Residents In Ulyanovsk Oblast Boycott Census
Residents of the Ulyanovsk Oblast village of Barysh said they will boycott the national census that is to be held next week in case they are not paid back wages, "Mozaika" reported on 2 October. Residents have not been paid since the local Sherst-Sukno textile factory was declared bankrupt.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova