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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 6, 2001

6 April 2001
Shaimiev Praises Putin's Address...
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev told news agencies that Putin had not said anything new about power sharing but that he had included an "unbiased and exacting" assessment of the situation in the country.

...And Discusses NTV Affair
Shaimiev also told an NTV interviewer that "NTV should be operating the way it did before and the ownership issues must be solved there the same way as in any regular joint-stock company." He refused to respond to a question as to whether the Russian President Vladimir Putin should mediate the current developments at NTV.

Russian Court Requires Redrawing Tatarstan Electoral Districts
"Vremya i dengi" reported on 6 April that the Russian Supreme Court had overruled the Tatarstan court and said that the rights of Moskovskiy komsomolets correspondent Lev Ovrutsky had been violated because of the unequal size of Tatarstan's electoral districts.

TPC, Kazan Paper Condemn Pressure on NTV
The Tatar Public Center on 4 April sharply criticized the Russian government "for oppressing the independent media by means of Gazprom Company." Meanwhile, "Vechernyaya Kazan" collected some 1000 signatures in support of NTV's independence.

50,000 Refugees Now in Tatarstan
Tatarstan's Migration Service chief Rishat Khayrutdinov said on 5 April that approximately 50,000 refugees now live in Tatarstan but that only 10,000 of them have official refugee status. Most of those fled from Chechnya in 1994-96.

Upgrading Tatar Language Status Urged
Indus Tahirov, the executive committee chairman of the World Tatar Congress told RFE/RL's Kazan Bureau on 5 April that "even though the state languages of Tatarstan Republic Tatar and Russian are legally given equal status, corresponding provisions of our laws are not being implemented." He urged the introduction of stricter requirements for knowing Tatar language among the citizens of the republic.

Tatar Citizen Convicted of Joining Chechen Fighters
A former student of the Yoldiz Muslim School in Chally Eduard Valiakhmetov was convicted by a Daghestani court of fighting alongside Chechen militants, "Vostochnyi Ekspress" reported on 6 April. During his trial, Valiakhmetov said that there were a number of Tatar citizens fighting with the Chechens. Last year, the Tatarstan education ministry closed the Yoldiz school because of its militant curriculum.

Candidates Not Filing Threatened Suits Against Shaimiev
Despite earlier threats to do so, none of the defeated presidential candidates have yet filed suit against President Mintimir Shaimiev, the republic's chief prosecutor Kafil Amirov said in Kazan on 3 April.

Prepay System Introduced for Gas Consumers
Tatarstan's affiliate of Russian Gazprom monopoly Tattransgaz has introduced new rules for state and private-owned companies that take over municipal housing. They must now make payments for gas in advance.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Rakhimov Meets Chelyabinsk Governor
President Murtaza Rakhimov on 2 April met with Chelyabinsk Governor Petr Sumin in Magnitogorsk to discuss economic integration, Bashinform reported. They also discussed deliveries of copper ore from Bashkortostan to the Kyshtym metallurgy plant.

Ufa, Minsk to Cooperate on Combine Production
Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov on 2 April met with Belarusian Embassy's Ufa office head Aleksei Spizharny to discuss joint production of agricultural machines by the Tuimazy automobile plant and Gomselmash, the presidential press service reported.

Duma Deputy Praises Political Parties Law
Duma deputy Ragib Gimaev on 29 March said that the law on political parties is "very important for the transition to civil society in Russia," Bashinform reported. He also called for a prohibition on party membership for all federal subject heads.

Opposition Protests 1999 Parliamentary Vote
Republic opposition leaders Aleksandr Arinin, Marat Mirgazyamov, Rus movement head Anatoly Dubovsky and Tatar Public Center head Airat Giniatullin filed suit protesting violations which took place at the 14 March 1999 republic parliamentary elections, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 4 April. They said that division of polling districts was incorrect and that the involvement of many deputies in executive bodies violates federal laws. They said that a total of 144 of 174 republic parliamentary deputies had been elected illegally.

Refakh Promised Registration
A district court in Ufa has overridden the justice ministry and registered the Refakh party in Bashkortostan, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 4 April.

50,000 Refugees Now in Bashkortostan
Federation Ministry republic board deputy head Anvar Rafikov and Bashkortostan refugees and settlers society chairman Dmitry Pogorelsky on 30 March told Bashinform that since 1994 some 50,000 refugees have been registered in the republic.

Ufa to Participate in American Educational Programs
The Foreign Relations and Trade Ministry on 30 March said that Bashkortostan will increase its participation in American educational projects, Bashinform reported. The ministry said that during the last two years, 130 Bashkortostan residents had received training in the U.S.

Bashkir Meat Producers to Conform to Muslim Standards
Food producers in the republic have begun to process meat in conformity to Muslim dietary restrictions, Bashinform reported on 30 March.

Automobile Service Association Created
The heads of automobile service enterprises on 29 March in Ufa set up a republic association to expand cooperation with other firms in the automotive industry, Bashinform reported.

Sterlitamaq Business Leaders to Help Small Businesses
The Sterlitamaq Businessmen's Union on 30 March adopted the program to help small businesses in that city, Bashinform reported.

Rural Schools Given Computers
Blagoveshchensky district has supplied all rural secondary schools with computers, Bashinform reported on 29 March.

State Employees Promised Salaries Rise
Svetlana Pronina, the chairwoman of the education trade union, said on 4 April that salary of public employees will be raised by 20 percent on 1 September. She said that the measure was a response to the recent Russian-wide teachers protest action.

TPC Calls for Boycotting Referendum
The Bashkortostan Tatar Public Center board on 31 March called for a boycott of the referendum on national issues promoted by some public forces saying that its results would likely be falsified, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 2 April. The referendum initiative group seeks to determine public support for the inclusion of a nationality line in passports and for requiring public support for constitutional change.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Reaction to NTV Case in Chuvashia, Marii El
Chuvashia journalists called on the Russian people to defend NTV journalists and began collecting signatures in support of them, VolgaInform reported on 5 April. SPS Duma faction leader Nikolai Travkin in Chuvashia on 4 April said that the situation connected to NTV is "the greatest mistake" but he added that there is still hope that Putin will "intervene at the very last moment." If that does not happen, Travkin said, then it will mean that Putin is setting up a military state. In other comments, Travkin called for the reelection of Chuvash President Nikoali Fedorov. Meanwhile, Marii El President Leonid Markelov said that closing NTV would be "a major loss."

Chuvashia President Joins Sakharov Institute Council
President Nikolai Fedorov has become a member of the board of the Andrei Sakharov Russian Open Human Rights Institute, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 April.

Communications Company Raises Prices
Ulyanovskelectrosvyaz on 3 April said that it had raised prices of radio transmission cable and telephone by 25-30 percent, VolgaInform reported. Now residents will pay 6 rubles a month for radio connection and from 55 to 60 rubles for telephone connections.

Siberian Aluminum Gains Control Over Volga Motors
GAZ general manager Victor Belyaev on 3 April said that the Siberian Aluminum group which is a close associate of his company had purchased a controlling interest of the Ulyanovsk's Volga Motors, Nizhny Novgorod telegraph agency reported.

Samara Oblast, Udmurtia Signs Cooperation Agreement
Samara oblast and Udmurtia on 30 March signed an agreement on trade, economic, scientific, cultural, and social cooperation, reported. The document provides that the two sides will hold consultations on drafts of federal laws as well as promote business activity and investments.

Volga, Urals Military Districts to Unite
The Urals military district press service on 3 April reported that merger of the Urals and Volga military districts will be completed by 1 September. According to a decree by Vladimir Putin, the new unity will be called the Volga-Urals district.

Ulyanovskenergo Official Found Guilty
An Ulyanovsk court has convicted Sergei Sedov, the head of Ulyanovskenergo department, of illegally switching off energy to a local hospital, Volgainform reported on 30 March. He was fined 300 minimum wages, but prosecutors say they will appeal and ask for a sentence of five years in prison.

Bribery Charges Brought Against Samara Officials
Samara prosecutors have brought bribery charges against the head of the Samara administration advertisement board Aleksandr Buravkin, reported on 4 April. Buravkin offered resistance while being detained and ran into militiaman. They also indicted the deputy administration head of the Leninsky district Gennady Chekurov and administration department chief Galina Merkulova.

HIV Infections Rise in Samara
The Samara oblast healthcare department on 30 March said that the number of HIV carriers has increased more than 100 times since January 1999 and now totals more than 7500 people, reported. Samara oblast now ranks third in HIV growth in the Russian Federation.

Mordovian Students to Study in Estonia
Petr Tultayev, the head of the Saransk administration cultural board, said on 30 March that the Estonian government has allotted funds for Finno-Ugric students, including Mordovians, to study in Estonia, reported. The agreement was reached at a recent meeting of the World Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric peoples in St. Petersburg.

Nizhny Novgorod Meets Russian Soldiers Returning From Chechnya
A ceremony of meeting 500 soldiers returning from service in Chechnya was held in Nizhny Novgorod on 30 March, reported. Governor Ivan Sklyarov and army commander General Lieutenant Aleksei Merkuryev took part in the ceremony. Merkuryev said that the army had lost 184 dead during the campaign.

Mordovia Government Head Seeks More Members for Unity
Prime Minister Vladimir Volkov, who also heads the Unity party in the republic, said on 3 April that his party plans to increase its membership from 1078 to 2000 over the next two months, reported.

Mordovia Promotes Media in National Languages
"Vaigel" in the Erzya language has begun publication, reported on 3 April. The paper plans to cover state of national culture and language.

Federal Inspector Pleased by Chuvash Harmonization
The chief federal inspector in Chuvashia Aleksandr Muratov on 2 April said that he is satisfied with harmonization in the, reported.

Odintsov Case to be Sent to Court
Deputy presidential envoy to the Volga District Valentin Stepankov on 31 March said that the investigation into the case of Marii El businessmen, associate of republic ex-president Vyacheslav Kislitsyn Aleksandr Odintsov had been completed and will be turned over to the courts, reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova