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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 19, 2001

19 October 2001
Mourning Meeting Reveals Deep Concerns With Lost Tatar Statehood
Activists from moderate nationalist Tatar organizations told a 15 October meeting devoted to the 449th anniversary of Ivan the Terrible's invasion of Kazan that Tatar communities of the United States, Turkey, Australia, and Moscow also commemorated the event. Some speakers called Russian legislative reforms, the abolition of regional parties, and Russian meddling in the transition to Latin script "a threat to Tatarstan's statehood." All of the Kazan residents and guests from other regions interviewed by RFE/RL said they supported the Yangalif, the Latin Tatar script that was prohibited by Stalin in 1939.

Moscow, Regional Officials Make Contradictory Statements On Future Census Procedures
Alla Gabidullina, the head of Tatarstan's Population Census Center, told reporters on 15 October that during test censuses held earlier this year to prepare for the census of October 2002, researchers "didn't divide the Tatar population by sub-ethnic groups, such as Kryashens, Mishars, or Tiptyars, while they had to register Tatars, Crimean Tatars, and Siberian Tatars separately."

Then on 18 October Vladimir Sokolin, the Russian State Statistics Committee chairman, told RFE/RL in Moscow that "the census is the only way to learn the ethnic content of the Russian Federation.... It is impossible to talk about anybody trying to underestimate some of the census figures."

Sergei Zverev, the official in charge of composing the questionnaire for the census, told RFE/RL the same day that "expectations that Tatars would be split into small ethnic groups during the census were absolutely untrue."

Tatar Communists Concerned With U.S.-Led Actions In Afghanistan...
A plenary meeting of the Russian Communist Party's Tatarstan branch on 14 October adopted a public statement protesting the "American rocket and bomb strikes on Afghan cities." It condemned "the beginning of the war near the southern borders of Russia." The statement said "no people can be responsible for the criminal acts of their governments, especially when they [the government] are foisted on people by outside interference."

The Communists said the primary cause of world terrorism was "social injustice, globalization policy, division into a civilized West and the exploited rest of the world, and America's aspirations to world domination."

...While Chally TPC Pledges Humanitarian Aid
The Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center declared on 15 October that it would gather and deliver humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, RFE/RL reported. TPC announced that "the people of Afghanistan are tired of suffering from military actions which have been going for 22 years. The civilian population is now dying not only because of famine, poverty, and disease, but also because of rocket and bomb strikes by the USA."

Kryashen Leader Says His People Not Taken Care Of In Tatarstan
Tatarstan's media quoted Vitalii Abramov, executive committee chairman of the ethnic-cultural center of Kryashens (baptized Tatars) in Tatarstan, as saying on 15 October that in some areas his people felt that "administrations didn't care about Kryashens' social and cultural needs." He complained that Muslims in the republic had one mosque per 1,500 faithful while Kryashens had one temple per 50,000. He added, "We must find a common language with state bodies for joint work for Tatarstan's and Russia's good."

Baptized Tatars emerged as a result of the baptism policy of the Russian state in the former Kazan khanate after it was conquered in the 16th century. Only Christian Tatars were given free land by the Russian state, while some 1,000 mosques were destroyed by Archbishop Makariy at the request of the Russian Church in less than a decade after 1552.

Kazan Helicopters Presented In Seoul
The Kazan Helicopter Plant presented itself at an international aerospace fair in Seoul, South Korea, Tatarinform reported on 16 October. KHP traditionally presents its heavy Mi-17 model and a lighter helicopter, Ansat.

"Trustworthy" Appointment To Head Tatarstan Branch Of People's Party
A Russian State Duma deputy elected for Tatarstan and a former member of the republican government, Flera Ziyatdinova, was appointed head of the Russian People's Party branch in Kazan. Tatarinform on 16 October quoted Ziyatdinova as saying that her party "was inclined toward the left-wing forces, that is Communists," although party leader Gennadii Raykov recently said in Moscow that the People's party "is to help Putin to bring Russia together." "Zvezda Povolzhya" weekly commented on Ziyatdinova's appointment on 18 October by saying that "she was strongly recommended for this post by President Mintimer Shaimiev."

Official Optimistic About Tatarstan's Economy
Deputy Minister of Economy and Industry Sergei Mukhin said on 16 October that "according to the program of Tatarstan's State Committee on Bankruptcy Affairs and objective reality, in two years' time there will be no loss-making enterprises in Tatarstan."

Prime Minister Interested In How Much Kazan Really Spends
Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov told a government meeting on 16 October that if in previous years Kazan consumed 16 percent of Tatarstan's budgetary spending, in 2002 it will claim only 7 percent. During the same meeting, however, Finance Minister Robert Musin said next year's budget will exceed that of 2001 by 31 percent. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov said that he would "personally check the needs of Tatarstan's capital to find out how much it really needs."

Tatneft To Boost Oil Exports
Tatneft Oil Company is expected to benefit from trading partner Korus's purchase of Russia's second-biggest steamship company, Volga Flot, Tatarinform reported on 18 October. This will allow Tatneft to send additional oil shipments from Tuben Kama to St. Petersburg via the Volga and therefore boost exports.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Bashkortostan's Tatars Mourning Martyrs of Russian Invasion
A number of Tatar organizations in Bashkortostan joined a small meeting on 14 October in Ufa to commemorate those who died defending Kazan from the troops of Ivan the Terrible in 1552, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. No outdoor public events were held.

Tuymazi Residents Say 'Bashkirization' Policy Continues
An ethnic education official of the predominantly Tatar Tuymazi region Bashkortostan, Aysilu Sitdikova, told RFE/RL on 15 October that while Bashkirs represent some 14 percent of the region's population and Tatars over 60 percent, the number of schoolchildren learning Bashkir language is about to exceed the number of those learning Tatar as their native language.

The Tatar Public Center branch leader in Tuymazi, Damir Zametdinov, told RFE/RL the same day that even the small figure of Bashkir population there (14 percent) "was estimated by registering Tatars as Bashkirs and implementing other types of a 'Bashkirization' policy." He said the republican government deliberately appoints ethnic Bashkirs to all key executive posts in the region. Zametdinov added that, one year before the national census to be held in October 2002, a special government commission visited the Tuymasi region to "stimulate" Tatar residents to call themselves Bashkirs.

Nuclear Plant Construction Praised As 'Revival' For The Republic
The free economic-zone status given to Agidel, Bashkortostan, after construction of a nuclear power plant was canceled there is the only reason it has managed to maintain decent living standards and employment for its residents, reported on 17 October. Nevertheless, the agency said the city began "its true revival" after the federal government upheld an initiative by Bashkortostan's State Assembly that abolished a 10-year-old ban on the nuclear facility's construction.

Bashkir Authorities Prepare For Census
Bashkortostan's State Statistics Committee reported on 16 October that the upcoming national census in Russia is expected to be the cheapest in the world. Committee officials said that while the U.S. government spent $20-22 on each registered person, Algiers spent $5, Russia is planning to spend $0.80 per capita.

Statistics Committee chief Akram Ganiev told Bashinform the same day that Bashkortostan's state bodies have been preparing for the census for two years. Some 11,000 interviewers will canvass Bashkortostan residents, earning 1,095 rubles ($37.24) for a week of work.

UES Still Willing And Able To Demand Debt Repayment From Bashkirenergo
Russia's United Energy Systems saw the number of its representatives on the board of Bashkirenergo power and energy company reduced from five to three. Bashkortostan's government and company shareholders managed to elect 10 of their own representatives to the 13-member board, "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" reported on 16 October. At the same time, the paper suggested that UES had a good chance of forcing the repayment of about 1.2 billion rubles ($40.81 million) owed by the Bashkir utility.

BR Will Tap Russian Bond Market
Bashkortostan Republic intends to issue about 1 billion rubles ($34 million) in bonds on the Russian stock market, which so far has been entered by just eight Russian regions, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, "Vedomosti" daily reported on 16 October.

Agricultural Grain Output Totals 3.5 Million Tons
Bashkortostan's Agriculture Minister Grigorii Gorobets told Radio Russia on 17 October that "the republican government is very pleased" that farmers have harvested as much as 3.5 million tons of grain this year.

Bashkir Physicians To Enjoy 'First Sprouts Of Democracy'
The chairman of the parliamentary committee on social issues, family, and children, Professor Vener Sakhautdinov, said on 18 October that the draft law on establishing private medical practices in BR was "one of the first sprouts of democracy in the republic." In his words, experienced and highly competent physicians working in state clinics earn just half the wages of employees at average banks or commercial companies.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chuvashia's CEC Registers First Presidential Candidate
Valentin Shurchanov, a Duma deputy and the leader of the KPRF in Chuvashia, has become the first registered candidate for Chuvashia's presidency, reported on 17 October.

First 10 Draftees To Spend Alternative Civil Service In Nizhnii
An enlistment commission in Nizhnii Novgorod permitted 10 draftees to spend their alternative civil service in a hospital in place of military service but refused to give similar permission to four others, the Nizhnii Novgorod news service reported on 16 October. Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev commented that, "A normal, healthy young man should serve in the army rather than in a hospital." He added that, "The constitutional right of pacifists being called up must be provided for." He said that the possibility of civil service might help reduce the number of draftees avoiding military service completely, which currently amounts to some 2,000 in the oblast. Khodyrev added that the oblast will in no way give up on the idea of alternative service.

Nizhnii Speaker Suggests Opening Reservations For Drug Addicts
Anatolii Kozeradskii, the Nizhnii Novgorod Legislative Assembly chairman, called for guarded reservations where drug addicts could openly use mild drugs, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 15 October. His comments came at a Russia-wide conference on economic security and on combating the drug trade and drug-linked corruption in Nizhnii Novgorod. He said the measure could help fight the spread of strong drugs as well as criminality connected with drug use.

Vladimir Baranov, the deputy head of the Russian Interior Ministry Academy in Nizhnii Novgorod, said that some 3 million drug addicts have been registered in Russia. He added that permanent growth in such a figure threatens national security. Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev called for stricter measures against drug traffickers. Vladimir Shcherbakov, the top interior official in the Volga Federal District, said the number of drug addicts has grown over the first nine months of the year in Bashkortostan by 45 percent, in Tatarstan by 39 percent, in Orenburg by 38 percent, and in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast by 36.5 percent.

Federal Inspector Drops Out Of Izhevsk Mayoral Race
The chief federal inspector in Udmurtia, Sergei Chikurov, withdrew his candidacy in the Izhevsk mayoral elections, reported on 15 October. He explained his decision by citing a "crisis in the relations between republican and federal bodies in Udmurtia." He called actions by local authorities "provocative." Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov has objected to the dismissal by Moscow of the head of a local television and radio company, GTRK, and the appointment of a new one without consulting republic leaders. Chikurov said that federal authorities should not back down in the conflict over GTRK.

Saratov Oblast Takes Additional Emergency Measures
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov said that stricter emergency measures were introduced at the facilities of strategic importance in his oblast, RIA-Novosti reported on 15 October. Ayatskov said that Russia's participation in the antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan should be restricted to humanitarian aid and that not a single Russian soldier should be sent to that country. He said that the Saratov Oblast, if necessary, could accept refugees from former Soviet republics neighboring on Afghanistan. Commenting on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, he called it "an internal affair of Georgia," like "Chechnya is an internal affair of Russia." But he said that if Russian peacekeepers leave Abkhazia, civil war will inevitably begin there. And he called on the two sides to hold peace talks.

Imprisoned Muslims In Saratov Allowed To Pray
A prayer room for Muslims opened in a Saratov penitentiary, reported on 16 October. Officials from the Muslim Religious Board of the Volga region said the board is launching a project to help imprisoned Muslims, including supplying them with Islamic literature and providing conditions for praying.

Saratov Businessmen Protest Tax Hikes
Some 150 representatives of the Saratov Businessmen's Association and SPS in the oblast picketed a session of the Saratov Oblast duma on 17 October to protest a 220 percent rise in taxes, Rosbalt reported on 17 October.

Sverdlovsk Oblast Government Head Sues Newspaper
Sverdlovsk Oblast Prime Minister Aleksei Vorobyev has filed a suit against the local newspaper "D.S.P.," accusing it of libel and defamation, Region-Inform reported on 12 October.

Prosecutor Initiates Warning Procedure For Sverdlovsk Oblast Legislature
Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel on 12 October annulled by decree several paragraphs of the oblast charter in order to harmonize it with the Russian Constitution and federal legislation, Region-Inform reported. The Russian Supreme Court has already objected to the same clauses. Petr Latyshev, the presidential envoy to the Ural Federal District, appealed on 15 October to President Vladimir Putin to warn the Sverdlovsk Oblast duma that it may be dissolved if it does not amend the oblast charter.

Sverdlovsk Prosecutor Boris Kuznetsov addressed a message to Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, saying that the Sverdlovsk Oblast legislature had not amended the oblast charter by the 12 October deadline set by the Russian Supreme Court and requesting a warning by the Russian president to the legislative body. Kuznetsov said the 12 October decree by Governor Rossel does not provide the necessary amendments to the oblast's charter.

Every Third Draftee In Sverdlovsk 'Not Fit' For Army Service
Sverdlovsk Oblast Commissioner Anatolii Baturin said that only 62 percent of the draftees registered by his office are fit for military service, Region-Inform reported on 15 October.

Nizhnii Parliament Amends Oblast Charter
The Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast legislature passed some 40 amendments to the oblast's charter in its final reading on 11 October to harmonize it with Russian legislation, the Nizhegorodskiye novosti agency reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova