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Tatar-Bashkir Report: October 26, 2001

26 October 2001
Mukhametshin Appeals To Russian Supreme Court To Defend Tatarstan's Constitution
State Council Chairman Farid Mukhametshin told "Respublika Tatarstan" on 20 October that he has addressed a protest to the Russian Supreme Court against the verdict of Tatarstan's Supreme Court declaring 42 paragraphs of Tatarstan's constitution illegal. He said he considers the court decision groundless concerning 22 paragraphs. He said it does not take into account the republic's bilateral treaty with Moscow and existing contradictions between the Russian Constitution and federal laws.

European Union Diplomats Visit Kazan
A delegation of diplomats from European Union member states' embassies in Russia visited Kazan and met with speaker Farid Mukhametshin to discuss national and religious affairs in the republic, problems of conformity between federal and republican legislation, the influence of presidential envoys on republican life, and differences between the land codes of Russia and Tatarstan, Tatar-inform reported on 25 October. The visitors also met with Trade and Foreign Economic Cooperation Minister Khafiz Salikhov to discuss bilateral cooperation of their countries with Tatarstan. Salikhov told them that Tatarstan in 2000 was fourth among Russian regions in terms of socio-economic development and second in agricultural production. He said Tatarstan is still the only federation member that has introduced simplified procedures for small businesses to register. The republic provides tax breaks to foreign investors, he added.

Reference Book On Religious Issues Printed In Tatarstan
The governmental Council on Religions Affairs has issued a reference book called "The Republic of Tatarstan: Freedom of Conscious and Religious Associations," presenting in the Tatar and Russian languages official documents, and information about religions and religious organizations in the republic, Tatar-inform reported on 25 October.

Government Sells Premises To Small Businesses
The deputy prime minister and economy and industry minister, Sergei Kogogin, told RIA-Novosti on 25 October that the government will have sold off all shops, cafes, and other premises rented by small companies by the end of the year in order to support small businesses.

Hygiene Office Promotes Measures To Prevent Bacteriological Terrorism
Chief hygiene official Viktor Morozov said on 25 October that none of 28 letters containing "suspicious" substances in the republic turned out to be harmful. But he noted that not all of 1,120 anthrax cattle sepulchres in the republic are maintained properly and called on the heads of the republic's raions for a review. Morozov signed a resolution to take additional measures against bio-terrorism.

Some 142 Tatarstan Residents Have Died In The Workplace
Deputy Chief Labor Inspector Irek Mukhametshin said that 142 residents have so far died as a result of accidents in their workplaces in 2001, one of the highest rates in the Volga Federal District, reported on 25 October.

Scholar Promotes Ethnic Quotas In Tatarstan Parliament
Ethnologist Damir Iskhakov suggested at a Milli Mejlis session that the Tatarstan Constitution introduce proportional ethnic quotas in the parliament for the republic's major communities, Tatars and Russians as well as other national groups, or provide a second parliamentary chamber of various nationalities, "Zvezda Povolzhya" reported on 25 October. Iskhakov said realization of the idea would require rearrangements in the administrative-territorial division of Tatarstan to make territorial units ethnically more homogeneous. He stressed that such a reform would defend the interests of all peoples more efficiently and eliminate mutual distrust.

Islamic Courses Open In St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg's Fund for the Revival of Islam and Islamic Culture has organized courses teaching the principles of Islam along with the Arab, Tatar, and Turkish languages in the city, Tatar-inform reported on 25 October.

Chechen Children Spend Vacations In Kazan
Twenty-five children of employees of Chechen interior institutions arrived in Kazan for a two-week vacation at the invitation of Tatarstan Interior Minister Asgat Safarov, Tatar-inform reported on 25 October. Alongside a cultural program, the visitors were suggested treatment in a local health center.

Tatneft Pays Eurobond Interest
Tatneft has paid $13.5 million of the coupon on $300 million worth of eurobonds issued in 1997, reported on 24 October.

Tatar Organizations Promote Tatar Culture In Kama Region
Leaders of the Tatars World Congress and the Council of the Tatars Federal National-Cultural Autonomy held their joint session in Perm Oblast to discuss cooperation with local authorities to promote the social and cultural needs of Tatars in the Kama Region, Tatar-inform reported on 25 October. Perm Oblast Governor Yurii Trutnev was in attendance. Perm Oblast Mufti Mukhametgali Khuzin said that, "Russia is an integral indivisible motherland for us." WTC leader Indus Tagirov said the threat of Tatars' disappearance arises as the number of people speaking Tatar falls.

Crimean Tatars Demand Land
The Ukrainian budget has allocated some $300 million in subsidies to Crimean Tatars returning to their native lands over the past decade, "Obshchaya gazeta" reported on 25 October. Only 12 percent of Crimean Tatars received plots of land during a land privatization campaign in Ukraine. Local authorities refused to allot land to other Tatars, saying they still have not been given Ukrainian citizenship and were not members of abolished collective farms. The Council of Crimean Tatars is demanding a quota in the Crimean parliament to resolve the land issue. The paper reported that official statistics indicate that some 26,000 Crimean Tatars have returned to Crimea, but their real number is more like 400,000, and a similar amount are still likely to return.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Russian Public Organization Pushes Tatar Rights In Bashkortostan
The opposition Rus movement issued a public statement regarding global terrorism on 22 October, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported. Condemning the terrorist attacks on the United States, Rus also accused Chechen militants of "committing aggression against their own state and people."

The movement called on Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov "to stop the policy of separatism and enter Russia's legal and political space." According to the statement, "The republican government's policy aimed at dividing people on an ethnic principle could lead to possible acts of terrorism. Existing legislation infringes on the rights of Tatars, who are the second-largest ethnic group living in BR, to practice their language. Despite growing protests, there is a forced introduction of the Bashkir language in the state and public affairs, although it is spoken by a minority of population."

Rus claimed that "this problem should be solved according to the principles of the Russian Constitution -- only this way it is possible to ensure the unity of people in BR and prevent the risk of terrorism."

Bashkir State Media Splits Tatar Population Into Different Groups
Bashkortostan State Radio broadcast a current-affairs program called "Gasirlar Avazi" ["Echo of Centuries"] on 20 October devoted to the history of Kryashens, or baptized Tatars, living in the Yanaul Region of Bashkortostan. The program promoted the idea of declaring baptized Tatars a separate ethnic group and therefore registering it separately during the national census of 2002. According to RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 22 October, the Bashkir government is currently working on splitting Tatars into smaller ethnic groups -- Tipters, Mishers, and Kryashens -- and forcing Tatars who previously registered as Bashkirs to receive social benefits during the Soviet era to do so during the census, since modern Russian passports do not indicate the bearer's nationality. Some see the goal of the republican authorities as influencing the census results so that Tatars would turn out to be the third-largest ethnic group in BR after Russians and Bashkirs.

Problems Arise With New Russian Passports In BR
Bashkortostan residents unwilling to accept new Russian passports without additional pages with notes in Bashkir and the republic's state emblem are being refused that right, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported, quoting the independent "Otechestvo" newspaper on 22 October. According to Russian law, individuals are free to decide whether to accept the passports with or without such pages, while republican authorities have ordered the Gosznak state factory in Ryazan to print all passports with additional pages. In the meantime, neither federal laws nor republican ones provide any sanctions for "losing" the special pages -- which are not numbered, unlike the other pages of the passport.

Tatars Complain Of 'Bashkirization' Efforts By Authorities
"Otechestvo" published a number of letters from Tatar readers complaining that Bashkir authorities refer to Tatars living in the republic as a "Tataro-phone population" so they can register them as Bashkirs when necessary.

Another reader from the Buzdyak Region of BR noted the procedures of the national census in 1989, when a polling official suggested that his family register as Bashkirs and explained the recommendation as one handed down by her superiors.

TPC Leaders From Bashkortostan Join Milli Mejlis Session
The chairman of the Tatar Public Center branch in Bashkortostan, Ayrat Giniyatullin, on 22 October commented on the recent meeting of Milli Mejlis, the opposition Tatar national parliament, in Kazan. He said that three of five Tatar delegates from BR made speeches at the event, reporting the present political and economic situation in the republic, expressing regret with the violations of democratic principles there such as an increasing 'Bashkirization' policy, and infringements on Tatar rights in education.

According to the figures provided by Giniyatullin, 15 Tatar kindergarten teachers are trained in Bashkortostan each year, while Russian, Bashkir, and other kindergartens receive 156 teachers. At the same time, Tatars represent 28 percent of the republic's population and 240,000 Bashkirs call Tatar their native language.

The Milli Mejlis acknowledged the problems of Tatars living in BR and entered a special remark in its resolution.

Tatar Writers Organization's Registration Plight Has Lasted Seven Years
Bashkortostan's Tatar Writers Union attended its 38th court session to consider its complaint that it has been denied formal registration in the republic. The union was registered in 1994 but was deprived of registration the same year. During litigation since then, four Tatar writers have reportedly died of old age.

Tatar Public Organizations Leader Comments On Violations During Census Of 1989
The head of the coordinating board of Tatar public organizations in Bashkortostan, Marat Ramazanov, told RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent on 23 October that during the national census of 1989 polling officials were told to fill out their documents with pencils so that nationality figures of the residents could be changed easily.

He quoted reports made at a scientific conference organized by Ufa State University after the census in 1989. In his words, after the census the Tatar population of the Yanaul Region in BR increased by 10,000, which was officially explained by a "vast migration of Bashkirs who were quickly replaced by Tatars."

Niyaz Majitov, executive committee chairman at the World Bashkir Congress, has told RFE/RL that census results from BR were changed by the Soviet government, which sought lower Bashkir population figures.

Census Data Of 2002 To Be Easy To 'Correct'
State Statistics Committee Chairman Ekrem Ganiev said that during the national census in 2002, census officials will use pencils for filling out forms, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 23 October. Ganiev said it would be "for control reasons, so there is no risk of any kind."

Minister Says 75,000 Collective Farmers 'Must Be Sacked'
The deputy minister of agriculture, Albert Lukmanov, said on 22 October that Bashkortostan's farms face an aging rural population and a lack of highly qualified specialists. He said that within the last decade grain production has slumped by 48 percent, meat production by 63 percent, and milk production by 47 percent. Lukmanov noted that the number of workers involved in agricultural production has decreased only slightly, adding that 75,000 of roughly 300,000 farmers did not "work." He urged the dismissal of these 75,000 in order to increase the average farm-worker's salary.

Bashkir Officials Study Public Relations
All heads of information and analytical departments within Bashkortostan's regional and city administrations gathered in Ufa on 22-26 October to attend a course in public relations and information technology.

Bashkortostan's Trade Development Indicates Successful Reforms...
According to Bashkortostan's government press service on 24 October, trade is the most successfully reformed are of Bashkortostan's economy. Trade companies reportedly employ 11 percent of the republic's population and produce 7 percent of the region's gross domestic product.

...While Economic Figures Show 8.5 Percent Growth
Bashkortostan's industrial production grew by 8.5 percent during the first nine months of 2001 compared to the previous year, the State Statistics Committee announced on 23 October. During the same period, there was a slight decrease in foreign-trade turnover, a 0.8 percent reduction in the number of employed people, and a 20 percent growth in residents' incomes.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Ural Cossacks Initiate Russia-Wide Cossack Party
One-hundred-fifty-three delegates representing Cossacks from the Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, Orenburg, and Kurgan oblasts at a forum in Chelyabinsk on 22 October set up an organizing committee for a new political party, Cossacks of Russia, and elected Mikhail Lonshchakov its chairman, Ural-Press-Inform reported. Volga Cossacks Chieftain Boris Gusev and the deputy presidential adviser in charge of relations with Cossacks, Aleksei Ozerov, became members of the body. Participants appealed to the Russian president and the Duma to step up adoption of a law on Cossacks and stated their readiness to cooperate with authorities of the Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Seminar On 'Finno-Ugric World In Internet' Held In Marii El
Participants in a seminar on the Finno-Ugric world on the Internet in Yoshkar-Ola on 19 October discussed plans to establish an association of Finno-Ugric journalists and to hold a national press festival, reported.

Work Of Interior Bodies In Ural District Called 'Unsatisfactory'
Russian Deputy Interior Minister Vyacheslav Tikhomirov told a meeting of the head of interior bodies in the Ural Federal District on 19 October that he is "extremely dissatisfied" with the results of their work in the first nine months of the year, Region-Inform reported. He singled out for criticism senior interior officials in the Kurgan and Chelyabinsk oblasts and the Yamal-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrugs. He said overall crime statistics have grown during the period by 8 percent while the level of serious crimes has leapt by 21 percent and only 50 percent of cases are successfully investigated. He stressed that for the first time in Russia, the work of interior bodies of an entire district received a negative evaluation.

District Commander Says Civil Service Should Not Damage Call-Up
The commander of the Volga-Ural military district, Aleksandr Baranov, said that he welcomes an experiment on the introduction of alternative civil service in Nizhnii Novgorod. He added, however, that it should not damage call-up campaigns or prevent enlistment offices from recruiting enough draftees.

Japanese Center Open In Nizhnii
A Japanese center for the promotion of reforms in Russia opened in Nizhnii Novgorod, the local news service reported on 23 October. The presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, Sergei Kirienko, Japanese Ambassador to Russia Minoru Tamba, and Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev were in attendance. The center will provide lessons in the Japanese language and seminars on management and business.

Khodyrev Satisfied With LUKoil's Acquisition Of NORSI-oil
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Governor Gennadii Khodyrev said that he is pleased with the purchase by LUKoil of an 85 percent state stake in NORSI-oil, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 19 October. Khodyrev said a "large and reliable investor has come to the oblast." He said it has been agreed with LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov that the company will invest $90 million in the modernization of NORSI-oil.

Human Rights Organization Promotes Alternative Civil Service
Viktor Gurskii, a representative of the Nizhnii Novgorod Human Rights Society, said that his organization plans to recruit 30-50 draftees this year for alternative civil service, the Nizhnii Novgorod telegraph agency reported on 23 October. He said they will serve two years in those sectors where there is a labor shortage. He added that the city enlistment commission has 35 applications for alternative service, while nine draftees have already received permission.

Military Prosecutor's Office Refuses To Sue Commissioner
The military prosecutors' office of the Perm garrison rejected an appeal by two soldiers to file a suit against oblast Military Commissioner Yevgenii Danilov despite acknowledgement by prosecutors that he beat them, reported on 19 October. The office argued that his actions "were of little significance."

Soldier Convicted Of Violence Against Fellows
The Military Court of the Samara Garrison sentenced soldier Timur Mamedov to three years' imprisonment for the violent treatment of his fellow soldiers during military service in a motorized rifle regiment in Samara Oblast, reported on 25 October. The court is considering 11 other, similar criminal cases against regiment servicemen. The cases were filed after 72 servicemen left the unit to deliver their complaints to commanders in August.

Idel Region Trade-Union Leaders Meet In Samara
Trade-union leaders from the Samara, Orenburg, Volgograd, Saratov, Ulyanovsk, Nizhnii Novgorod, Penza oblasts and Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Marii El, Mordovia, and Udmurtia gathered in Samara on 23 October to discuss a joint strategy and measures for social partnership in the region, "Samara segodnya" reported.

Ayatskov Addressed Suspicious Letter
An envelope with white substance was received on 24 October by the staff of Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov, reported. Analysis proved it was harmless, the agency said. In the meantime, similar cases were reported in recent days in Samara, Tolyatti, Balezino of Udmurtia, Penza, Yekaterinburg, Serov of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Magnitogorsk, Snezhinsk of Chelyabinsk Oblast, and Chelyabinsk itself.

Tyumen Administration To Consult Civic Forum
Tyumen Oblast Deputy Governor Vladimir Yakushev issued a resolution on the establishment of a Civic Forum of Tyumen Oblast, "Tyumenskaya liniya" reported on 23 October. The new body is intended to examine decisions made by authorities.

First Deputy Mayor Wins Izhevsk Mayoral Race
Viktor Balakin, the first deputy mayor of Izhevsk, won 21 October mayoral elections in Udmurtia's capital with 52 percent of the vote, the Udmurtia agency reported. KPRF's candidate, Vyacheslav Anufriev, finished second with 13.5 percent. The former mayor now represents the republic on the Federal Council.

The same day, Rudolf Zhidelev, the director of the Izhevsk urban employment center, and Vladimir Zabilskii, a researcher from the Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, were elected Udmurtia's State Council deputies in a by-election.

Udmurtia Ecologists Protest Construction Of Plant To Dispose Of Rocket Engines
Environmentalists in Udmurtia delivered to a presidential representative some 960 signatures protesting the construction of a facility for destroying rocket engines near Votkinsk, the Udmurtia agency reported on 19 October.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova