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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 15, 2002

15 November 2002
Daily: Shaimiev To Play A Smaller Part In Pro-Government Party
According to the daily "Izvestiya" on 13 November, serious changes are about to take place in the leadership of Russia's "party of power" -- Unified Russia, where Minister of Emergencies Sergei Shoigu, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev will be replaced by Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov. The reshuffle reportedly means that Gryzlov is to become the party's top figure during the 2003 parliamentary elections in Russia. "Izvestiya" also cited an unnamed high-ranking Unified Russia official as saying that the change of leaders "does not mean the banal retirement of Luzhkov, Shoigu, and Shaimiev, it just means that the format of their participation in party activities will be different."

President Promotes Socially-Oriented Housing Reform
Tatar President Shaimiev chaired a meeting of the republican government devoted to Tatarstan's housing reform and the special state program for such reform from 2002-2010, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the next day. Shaimiev promoted the importance of the reform, which he said "may be compared only with switching the country to a new economic railing. The reform should be introduced gradually: and what's most important, without allowing a fall in the people's standard of living." Shaimiev spoke in favor of introducing a system of compensation for the less fortunate segments of the population, while the middle class would have to pay more for housing services than it does now. Meanwhile, Alevtina Kudryavtseva, deputy minister of economy and industry, noted in her report at the meeting that some of the current housing tariffs are much higher than their real cost. She said that the current prices for gas and water are up to two times higher than they should be.

Mayor Says Republican Government Impoverished 2003 City Budget...
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told the weekly meeting of city administration officials on 11 November that "after the correction of the draft Kazan city budget for 2003 on the republican level almost nothing was left at the city's disposal and the deficit will reach 2.54 billion rubles [$79.9 million]." Without specifying the city budget, the mayor complained that due to the republican government's interference his administration will not have any funds for antiflood measures, constructing public toilets, maintaining river beaches, areas around apartment blocks, and repairs on elevators in the apartment buildings. Ishakov said that many of the city budget's expenses were twofold, including, but not limited to those on health care, maintenance of streets, and food for animals in the zoo.

...But City Administration Bears High Hopes For Federal Intervention
Iskhakov said at the same meeting that in 2003 "Kazan hoped for transfers from the federal budget" for building and repairing a number of social buildings in the Tatar capital, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The draft budget currently considered by the Russian Duma reportedly contains special funds for these purposes within the framework of federal programs on regional culture development and the preservation of historical buildings.

The Kazan administration's "wish list" includes construction of a hydropathical establishment, a social service center, a home for the handicapped, the renovation of "Krutushka spar," a home for teenagers, and a Russian drama theater named after Kachalov.

Tatarstan Agrees To Boost Cooperation With Khanti-Mansiiskii Okrug...
Tatar Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Khanti-Mansii Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Philippenko both acknowledged the current level of bilateral cooperation between their regions as "unsatisfactory" during Minnikhanov's 14 November visit to Khanti-Mansii, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported yesterday. Philippenko emphasized that "nearly all oil companies from across Russia are operating" in his region, extracting 60 percent of Russia's annual oil produce, except Tatneft." Besides oil extraction, the two sides have reportedly agreed to boost mutual cooperation in oil refining and in the exchange of machinery supplies. According to Tatarstan's State Statistics Committee the same day, bilateral trade between the two regions totaled 232.7 million rubles ($7.3 million) in 2001, which was 60 percent lower than in 2000.

...And Lithuania
Khafiz Salikhov, Tatarstan's minister of trade and foreign economic cooperation, met the adviser to the Lithuanian ambassador to Russia, Kestutis Kudzmanas, on 12 November to discuss direct supplies of consumer goods from the Baltic republic to Tatarstan without storing them in Moscow and thereby keeping prices down, Intertat reported the same day.

The two sides have agreed to create special storage spaces in Tatarstan and will use the republic for distributing Lithuanian goods to neighboring regions of the Volga area and beyond. A Lithuanian trade mission is expected to visit Kazan soon to hold an exhibition of its major industries. Last year, Tatar-Lithuanian trade was reported at $35.6 million, which made up only 1.15 percent of Tatastan's foreign trade.

Organized Crime Enforcement Body Admits Monitoring Radical Muslims
Anatolii Ignatiev, head of the Interior Ministry's Department of Organized Crime Enforcement, told the press on 13 November that besides some 8,000 members of organized criminal groups currently known in Tatarstan, his department "monitors the followers of Wahhabism." In a statement, Ignatiev asked for a tenfold increase of his staff in order to better monitor the activities of criminal groups. Organized crime police have reportedly investigated 572 crimes in 2002, which is 100 more than in the previous year. This list was dominated by cases of racketeering, armed assault, kidnappings, attempts to organize criminal groups, and contract killings.

Altynbayev To Head The Local Branch Of New Russian Party
Refqet Altynbayev, the former Chally mayor who is now a Russian Federation Council member and the chairman of the council's commission on local self-government, said during a press conference in Kazan on 9 November that he will lead Tatarstan's branch of the Russian Party of Life (RPZ), which was recently registered in the republic. He said that his party is open to cooperation with "any political forces, no matter if it is communists, the SPS, or Unified Russia, what we need is common goals."

Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov was elected a leader of the RPZ at its first congress on 29 June in Moscow. The party reportedly declared human life to be its "ideology," adding that its policy is the "protection of human life."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkir Parliament Rejects Draft Constitution...
Legislators in Bashkortostan have rejected in its first reading a new draft constitution that would abolish the post of republican president, reported on 13 November. Although the draft has been endorsed by Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, deputies reportedly rejected it because it contains numerous contradictions with federal legislation and because of numerous requests from localities in the republic that they do so. According to, the draft under consideration -- although nominally intended to establish a parliamentary system of government -- actually maintains the presidential system under a new guise. The republican head of state would be the prime minister, but he or she would be directly elected by the public. The prime minister would then have the authority to form a government without taking into account the makeup of parliament. "In this way, Murtaza Rakhimov could extend his reign by another eight years without any long debates over whether he is seeking a third term as president," the website commented. (Rob Coalson)

...As Federal Outlets Say Bashkir Reform Plan Has Few Legal Shortcomings
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 November that federal authorities clearly showed that they do not have any objections to Rakhimov's plan to pass the majority of the president's powers to the republic's parliament. The paper commented that two things could hinder Rakhimov: the evident contradictions of the plan to federal legislation, and an alliance of the businessmen who control Bashkortostan's oil sector and are interested in weakening Rakhimov with leading federal politicians. The republic's lawyers, however, managed to avoid all obstacles in federal legislation, the paper said, adding that criticism by federal experts and politicians toward Rakhimov's initiative was very quiet. Very few people had the courage to argue with someone who deliberately refuses the post of president of the republic, saying that, "there should be the only one president in Russia," the daily commented.

"Vremya novostei" reported on 12 November that the federal authority was displeased by "Rakhimov's castling." The daily cited an unidentified source close to the Russian presidential administration as saying, "Rakhimov made the best use of the imperfection of the Russian Constitution and so efficiently played on its legal contradictions that the federal authority was unable to formulate clear objections" to the planned political reform in Bashkortostan. "Bashkir lawyers managed to prepare a document which is difficult to find fault with," the source said. The paper suggested that a person close to Rakhimov not only in spirit but blood as well will be elected the prime minister who will inherit some presidential powers, according to the draft constitution.

Tajetdin Again Warns About Wahhabi Threat...
Chairman of the Ufa-based Central Muslim Religious Board (TsDUM), Telget Tajetdin, said on 11 November that summer Wahhabi camps have been held in Russia over the past decade in which Russian youth are subjected to ideological indoctrination under the guise of selecting Muslim teenagers for the University of King Saud, Uralinformbureau reported the same day. Tajetdin said such a camp was established for 100 teenagers in the summer of 2002 near Pervouralsk. The mufti appealed to presidential envoy to the Ural Federal District Petr Latyshev to prevent similar events in the district in the future.

"Vremya novostei" wrote on 13 November that Tajetdin also made it clear that the source of religious extremism is the "pro-Wahhabi-oriented" Muslim Religious Board of the Asian Part of Russia (DUMACh). TsDUM competes in Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, and Kurgan oblasts with DUMACh and constantly accuses the latter of Wahhabism. The paper said that DUMACh is a group uniting a significant number of Muslims and working under the aegis of the Council of Muftis of Russia headed by Rawil Gainetdin, Tajetdin's main competitor in Russia, adding to tension between TsDUM and DUMACh which existed long before Russian people learned the word "Wahhabi."

...As DUMACh Head Denies Tajetdin's Accusations
DUMACh head Mufti Nafigulla Ashirov confirmed in an interview with "Vremya novostei" on 13 November that his board arranged summer camps for teenagers in the Urals, but it was aimed at selecting candidates for entering various Islamic educational institutions, not only in Saudi Arabia but also in Libya, Moscow, Kazan, and Bashkortostan. Ashirov denied the information about the spread of Wahhabism in the camps. He said, "We would sue Tajetdin if he called us terrorists, but Wahhabi is a handy word, as pinning such a label cannot be sued."

New Plant To Process Nonferrous Metals
The Ufa Nonferrous Metals Plant began production in the Bashkir capital, Bashinform reported on 11 November. The agency cited company Executive Director Rustem Ibrahimov as saying that the plant plans to bring production to 500 tons of alloys a month in a short time and meet the demand on the republic's market. The privately owned facility employs five workers and plans to double its staff. Previously, nonferrous metals were exported from the republic to Samara, Perm, and Chelyabinsk.

Donor Regions Face Economic Losses
The number of donor regions in Russia has fallen in the past two years from 18 to nine and now totals one in 10, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 November. This trend is the result of the Tax Code that was passed the previous year and distributes tax revenues between federal and regional budgets at a ratio of 65:35. The most economically developed regions, among them Sverdlovsk Oblast, the Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansii autonomous okrugs, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Krasnoyarsk Krai faced the biggest losses, the paper said. The paper said the Kremlin strengthened its political influence in the regions, but there has been neither a step forward, nor a significant improvement of life in the poorest regions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Lenin Monument Replaced In Chelyabinsk Oblast
A Lenin monument was unveiled on 7 November in the town of Kartaly, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 10 November. The 4-meter metal sculpture was delivered from the village of Yuzhno-Stepnoi in Kartalinskii Raion to replace a previous Lenin monument that was gradually going to ruin, causing numerous appeals by elderly residents to the Kartaly administration. Some 400 people took part in the unveiling ceremony, the agency said.

Muslim Leader Protests Growing Enmity Toward Caucasians In Marii El Media
The regional branch of the Unions of Muslims of Russia (SMR) in Marii El issued an open letter to protest efforts by local media outlets controlled by the republic's authorities to create a negative atmosphere as regards people from the Caucasus, reported on 12 November. Department head and Marii El Supreme Council deputy Tajetdin Qasumov, who signed the letter, cited the publication in "Mariiskaya pravda" of an article titled "The Chechen Diaspora: Both Dudaev and Basaev lived in Marii El. Osama is still living here," in which the authors link the worsening crime situation in the republic to the increasing number of people from the Caucasus. Kasumov said that the publication is of a clear political character as it implies that the large number of Caucasians is connected with the activity of Marii El's former President Vyacheslav Kislitsyn's staff. Kasumov said that hostility toward Caucasians is projected on the entire Muslim population of Russia, which does not promote interconfessional concord in the country.

Deputies Attacked In Mordovia
Privolzhe news agency reported on 14 November that three people in masks attacked Mordovian State Assembly deputy Aleksandr Fedaev in his home several days before, wounding him in the hand with an axe and stealing 30,000 rubles ($943). Fedaev was hospitalized. Shortly before that, several people with guns and camouflage gear invaded the home of Saransk City Council deputy Oleg Rogachev, tied him and his wife up, and stole 25,000 rubles ($785), the agency said.

Islamic Youth Organization Set Up In Mordovia
An organizing conference of the Mordovian organization Islamic Youth Center was held in Saransk on 11 November, reported on 12 November. According to the group's charter, it works to develop a movement of Islamic youth in Mordovia to promote friendship, mutual support, service to Russia, and the introduction of young generations to Islamic culture. The organization also lists among its tasks attracting young people to the formation of civil society and satisfying their interests in the economic, political, social, cultural, and religious spheres. The agency cited experts as saying the aims of the Islamic Youth Center coincide in many ways with the program of the Union of Orthodox Youth of Mordovia, which was registered in January.

FSB Searches Perm Newspaper Office
The Federal Security Service (FSB) in Perm Oblast on 12 November searched the office of the oblast newspaper "Zvezda," Ural-Press-Inform reported on 14 November. FSB representatives said the search was connected with a criminal case that was filed on 14 October "on the fact of publication of information divulging a state secret." Investigators detained paper employee Konstantin Bakharev to interrogate him, the agency reported.

Saratov Governor Believes Russia's People Can Be United By Orthodoxy
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told an Internet conference on 11 November that the Russian people can be united on the basis of the Orthodox idea, Privolzhe reported. Ayatskov said he "would not like the Russian people to unite around the idea of imposing a war on anybody, as in the United States -- in Afghanistan or Iraq. That is a cheap idea," the governor said. Ayatskov also said the idea of proprietor and landowner is a powerful one as well for the development of the economy of the state.

Explosion Near House Of Yekaterinburg City Deputy
A device containing some 25 grams of trinitrotoluene exploded on 9 November in a yard of the house of Yekaterinburg City Duma Deputy Viktor Yelokhin, "Novyi region" reported on 10 November. Nobody was injured. Yelokhin filed a complaint with the police.

Chechen Children Face Discrimination In Sverdlovsk Oblast
The deputy head of the Yekaterinburg Center of Chechen-Ingush Culture Vainakh, Lom Askhabov, told "Novyi region" on 13 November that discrimination against Chechen children occurred in secondary schools in Sverdlovsk Oblast after the October Moscow hostage crisis. Askhabov said a teacher in a Yekaterinburg school had been making a Chechen pupil stand in the corner during lessons for several days until the pupil's father found out about it and got the teacher dismissed. Similar cases were also noted in other schools of Yekaterinburg and the oblast, Askhabov said. He added that the oblast's Chechen diaspora is preparing an appeal to the Sverdlovsk Oblast Education Minister Valerii Nesterov to stop discrimination against Chechen children.

Nationalist Signs Spread In Tyumen
Graffiti calling for "Tyumen for Tatars" and "Tyumen for its indigenous people" appeared on buildings in Tyumen the previous week, reported on 10 November. Head of the Tatar National Cultural Autonomy Faizulla Kamalov in a television interview condemned the unknown authors, saying such actions are committed by people who seek to arouse ethnic and religious discord in the international city. In a short time the slogans disappeared, the agency said, adding that slogans like "Tyumen for Russians" and "Caucasians, get out of Tyumen" can still be found in various parts of the city. Local media, however, ignore these but report about the threat of "Tatar skinheads," the agency said.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova