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Tatar-Bashkir Report: June 8, 2001

8 June 2001
Shaimiev Promotes Cultural Cooperation with UNESCO
President Mintimer Shaimiev while in Paris on 6 June met with UNESCO general director Koitiro Matsuuro, Russia's Permanent Representative to UNESCO Yevgeny Sidorov, and Russian Ambassador to France Nikolai Afanasyevsky, Tatar-inform reported.

Kazan Hosts International Conference on Islamic Culture
Scholars from the U.S., Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Vatican are taking part in an international conference on "Islamic culture in the Idel-Ural Region" being held on 8-10 June in Kazan, Tatar-inform reported.

POZIS to Supply Interior Ministry with Refrigerators
The Yeshel Uzen Sergo plant POZIS has won a tender among five companies for the delivery of refrigerators to Russian Interior Ministry, Tatar-inform reported on 6 June.

LUKoil, Tatneft Increase Influence on Moscow Oil Refinery
LUKoil and Tatneft received together four seats of nine in the Moscow oil refinery board at its annual shareholders meeting while before they have had only two, Tatar-inform reported on 6 June. The two companies own 46 percent of the plant's shares. The Moscow oil company which owns 51 percent of shares recently refused to purchase Tatneft's oil.

Fewer Federal Trains Run Through Kazan
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 7 June reported that seven passenger trains which had run from Moscow to Yekaterinburg through Kazan will now run through Nizhny Novgorod. The change has been made at the request of presidential envoy Sergei Kirienko. Shamil Ageev, the chairman of Tatarstan's Trade and Industry Chamber Shamil Ageev, told the weekly that approximately six months before the second federal invasion of Chechnya Moscow built a branch line bypassing Chechnya. Consequently, he said, this shift may be a signal from Moscow to Kazan that Moscow will move forcefully against any independence-minded behavior by Tatarstan.

Tatars Protest Import of Nuclear Wastes
Tatarstan's Anti-Nuclear Society urged Tatars to protest the decision of the State Council to allow the importation and storage of nuclear wastes, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 7 June.

State Latinization Program Completed
Kim Minnullin, the cabinet official in charge of Tatarstan peoples language development, told "Respublika Tatarstan" on 7 June that his department has finished developing the draft state program on introduction of Latin Tatar script over the next decade.

Latin Script Experiment Shows Positive Results
Razil Valeev, the head of the State Council's commission on science, education, culture, and national issues told "Zvezda Povolzhya" on 7 June that the experiment on teaching Tatar language in Latin script has resulted in improvement of students' knowledge and their pronunciation. He noted that alphabet is "a linguistic issue not a political one." He believes that Bashkortostan's Tatars will manage to exert influence on their President, he added. He also commented that Duma is now more tolerant to the latinization of Tatar than before as Duma deputies have begun to recognize that this is our personal issue. But at the same time, he expressed concerns about the implication of endless discussions on the issue.

National Organizations Call For Defense of Sovereignty
Tatarstan's national organizations -- including the Tatar Public Center, Milli Mejlis, Ittifaq, the Tatar youth union Azatliq, the Assembly of Idel and Urals peoples, the public political movement Idel-Urals, the educational association Magarif, the Committee on protection of refugees, and the Human Rights Fund -- called on republic residents to take part in a 14 June forum to defend Tatarstan statehood, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 7 June. The organizers said Moscow wants to "annihilate" republic statehood.

Saratov Tatars Hold Sabantui
Tatars residing in Saratov on 3 June held their national holiday Sabantui, reported. Mufti Muqaddas Bibarsov, the chairman of the public movement Russia's Muslims, Indus Tahirov, the chairman of the Tatars World Congress, and Ali Vyacheslav Polosin, the adviser to the Russia's Muftis Council, took part in the event. Saratov Governor Dmitry Ayatskov, Duma vice Chairwoman Lyubov Slizka, and federal inspector Rinat Khalikov also greeted participants in the forum.

House Committees to Prevent Terrorism
Tatarstan's Construction and Housing-Municipal Services Ministry is seeking to set up special house committees in the republic's cities to prevent terrorism and begin preparations for winter, Tatar-inform reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Prepares For Putin Visit
President Murtaza Rakhimov said on 5 June that Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Bashkortostan on 9-11 June. He added that Putin may attend the traditional Sabantuy holiday celebrations in the Elshe region of the republic. The Ufa city administration recently renovated the highway from the Ufa airport to the city center as well as some of the streets in the city.

Tatar Weekly Explains Soviet-Regime Constitution Articles
The "Kizil Tan" weekly sharply criticized those who have suggested that the Soviet era republic constitution contained more protections for freedom than the post-independence one.

Dividing Up Ethnic Tatars for the Census
"Kizil Tan" said that those who call the Mishar Tatars a Finno-Ugric group are wrong. Other press outlets on 5 June suggested that Tatars living in Bashkortostan should be divided into separate groups depending on dialect. Doing that, of course, would mean that the Tatar census figure would be lower. Tatar public groups in Bashkortostan plan to protest this measure.

Tatar Writers Union Continue Struggle for Registration
For seven years, members of the Tatar Writers Union have sought to gain official registration, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 5 June. They succeeded in getting it from the justice ministry in 1994 but lost it after only 40 days. Union activist Ferit Abdrakhim said that the local courts have routinely ruled in favor of registering the Union but that the justice ministry wins out in appeals to the Bashkortostan Supreme Court.

Harmonization and its Discontents
Bashkortostan legislators have called for a number of revisions in federal statutes, but the Russian Duma has not responded to any of them, according to the RFE/RL correspondent in Ufa on 1 June. Meanwhile, Russian officials have complained that a number of republic laws supposedly harmonized do not meet federal standards.

First Magistrate Judges Appointed
The first magistrate judges in the history of Bashkortostan were officially appointed to their posts on 7 June in Ufa. The judges will hear civil suits and minor criminal cases in 92 districts of 182 in Bashkortostan.

Republic to Help Children in Poor Families
The cabinet has ordered the payment of up to 500 rubles ($17) for each child in families with per capita incomes of less than 1147 rubles, the government press service reported on 7 June.

Bashkir Personalities Dominate New Street Names
RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 4 June that the majority of renamed and newly named streets in Bashkortostan are typically named for prominent ethnic Bashkirs, rather than members of any other ethnic group.

HIV Infections Increase Among Young
Shamil Gabbasov, the director of the republic Anti-AIDS Center, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 6 June that there are 1300 HIV-infected people in the republic, more than four out of five of them being young people between the ages of 15 and 30.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Mayak Officials Say Import of Nuclear Wastes Safe
Chelyabinsk's Mayak company spokesman Yevgeny Ryzhkov on 1 June said that transportation and processing of spent nuclear fuel in Russia is "a completely secure process". He said that his company has faced no emergency situation during 27 years it had been processing such fuel. But he added that "France and Germany will unlikely allow Russia to return in the market of spent nuclear fuel it has left in 1999".

Sberbank Extends Credit to Marii El
Sberbank's Volga Vyatka branch on 6 June extended a credit to Marii El of one billion rubles ($34.6 million), reported. President Leonid Markelov said that this will help the republic get out of its "economic isolation."

Unemployment in Mordovia Now 10 Percent
The Mordovian Labor and Employment Ministry said on 1 June that 10.7 percent of workers in the republic are unemployed, reported.

Infant Mortality Up In Mordovia
Health Ministry officials on 6 June said that infant mortality had increased 25 percent over the last year, reported. Some 10.7 per 1,000 now die before their first birthdays.

U.S. Ambassador Optimistic About Joint Auto Project
U.S. Ambassador James Collins said on 6 June that cooperation between General Motors and AvtoVAZ will help to promote Russia's industrial development.

Rossel Takes Control of Romanov Memorial Cathedral Construction
Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel on 1 June visited construction plot of the cathedral on the place where the Imperial Family was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918, region-inform reported. Rossel criticized the slow pace of construction and said he will personally monitor progress there.

Chinese Consulate to Open in Yekaterinburg
Rossel on 1 June met with China's Guangchzhou Mayor Lin Shunsen to discuss opening of a consulate in Yekaterinburg, UralBusinessConsulting reported.

Rossel to Promote Oblast Anthem
Rossel said on 6 June that he will soon introduce to the oblast Legislative Assembly a draft oblast anthem, reported. Sverdlovsk oblast already has its own flag and emblem.

Russian Universities Lose Soros Aid
Yevgeny Pamyatnykh, pro-rector of the Ural State University, said on 6 June that end of Soros funding will not only reduce the university's course offerings but lead to staff reductions, region-inform reported.

Uralmash Needs Foreign Labor Force
Uralmash deputy general manager Sergei Ageev on 6 June told Region-Inform that his company has asked Moscow to adopt a program allowing Russian speakers from the CIS companies to come to his plant to work. The company already has received permission to invite 200 workers from these countries.

Yekaterinburg Customs, Interior Employees Accused of Bribery
Prosecutors have filed a suit against a group of customs and interior department employees at the Yekaterinburg Koltsovo airport accusing them of bribery and helping smugglers, UralBusinessConsulting reported on 1 June.

Tyumen Unity Wants Payments to Federal Budget Cut
Unity in Tyumen has collected more than 700,000 signatures protesting the new scheme of dividing payments for resources between federal and regional budgets, reported on 6 June. Unity members say that these acts will turn the oblast into an "appendage providing raw materials" as it will lose 60 percent of its income.

Shamanov Concerned About Hot Spots Victims
Ulyanovsk Governor Vladimir Shamanov on 6 June issued a resolution on support for relatives of military servicemen and interior employees, who were killed or injured during services in "hot spots," VolgaInform reported. Families of those killed will receive 10,000 rubles and invalids will be paid 3,000 to 7,000 rubles.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova