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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 2, 2001

2 November 2001
Shaimiev Concerned Over 'Islamophobia'
President Mintimer Shaimiev told "Argumenty i fakty" on 30 October that terrorism has no links with religious faiths, as all world religions forbid murder. As for Islam, he said, it is an extremely peaceful and tolerant religion. Shaimiev is concerned by "Islamophobia," which he said is often aroused artificially. He suggested that one of the aims of international terrorism is to prompt a clash between Christians and Muslims, the West and the Orient. He called for an expansion of cultural dialogue and an exchange of information in order to combat stereotypes of Islam as a fanatical and intolerant religion. He said a reformational trend in Islam developed by Tatars in the nineteenth century -- Jadidism -- stated openness to the Russian and Western cultures as well as to Western democratic and liberal values.

Shaimiev Says 2002 Budget More Socially Oriented
President Shaimiev said on 1 November that Tatarstan's 2002 budget will be more socially oriented in comparison to previous years, Tatarstan Radio reported. He said salaries of state employees will be significantly raised.

Analyst Predicts Establishment Of Vertical Religious Power
Political researcher Radik Gatin said in an article published in "Vremya i dengi" on 26 October that Moscow is seeking to establish a common spiritual space, following a common legal one. To that end, the Russian Supreme Court abolished provisions in Tatarstan's legislation according to which all Muslim communities were represented by a single organization -- the Muslims Religious Board of Tatarstan. Gatin predicted that federal authorities will increase their interference in the "internal religious affairs" of Tatarstan and that "vertical religious power" in the republic will also be subordinate to Moscow.

Religious Leaders Say Terrorism, Religion Incompatible
"Respublika Tatarstan" on 25 October published a roundtable of Tatarstan's religious leaders in which they unanimously agreed that terrorism can in no way be linked to religion, in general, and to Islam, in particular. Tatarstan's deputy chairman of the Muslim Religious Board, Valiulla khazrat, said that a mosque was destroyed in New York, together with Muslims inside, as a result of the 11 September terrorist acts. He stressed that Islam forbids such approaches to political problems. Rabbi Iskhak Gorelik said that even if terrorists consider themselves Muslims, their terrorist acts are in no way linked to true Islam. Protestant religious organizations Chairman Anatolii Pogasii said politicians have always used religious slogans to achieve their aims, beginning with the Crusades, adding that terrorists are also far from being believers. He said reciprocal measures taken by the U.S. should be measured. Valiulla khazrat said the antiterrorist operation has taken the form of mass bombardment rather than of special operations, and the Afghan people have become hostages.

'Rossiiskaya Gazeta' Is Unwilling To Produce 'Letter Of 56'
Razil Valeev, the chairman of the State Council's commission on science, education, culture, and national issues, told "Vostochnyi ekspress" on 26 October that "Rossiiskaya gazeta" refused to give him a copy of the open "letter of 56" Moscow Tatars. That purported document opposed the introduction of Tatar Latin script and was published by the newspaper. Valeev said Rafigulla Khamidullin, one of the letter's "signatories" who repeatedly stated he did not sign it, is going to file a suit against "Rossiiskaya gazeta." The commission members have expressed their doubts about the letter's authenticity, but the newspaper has rejected accusations of manufacturing the document.

Iskhakov Said To Be Seeking Moscow's Support As Presidential Candidate
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 2 November cited rumors that the deputy head of the Kazan City Council, Lyudmila Andreeva, held a secret meeting to criticize Kazan Mayor Kamil Iskhakov. She reportedly said Iskhakov had repeatedly appealed to senior Moscow officials to gain approval to run for Tatarstan's presidency. The weekly reported that officials in the Kazan city administration consider Iskhakov's policy "suicidal" and generally view Nizhnekamsk Mayor Ilsur Metshin as the most acceptable candidate in mayoral elections.

Alabuga Prepares For Cooperation With Chinese
Ravil Zaripov, the general manager of YelAZ and the "offshore zone" of Alabuga, told reporters on 29 October that he signed agreements with the heads of the Beijing zone for economic and technical development during the recent Shanghai business summit. The documents promote the creation of joint ventures to produce fiber-optic cables and construction materials and the opening of Chinese restaurants in Alabuga.

Lufthansa Provides More Flights To Kazan
German carrier Lufthansa has increased the number of Frankfurt-Kazan flights to three per week, AK&M reported on 29 October. The airline said demand for the services is growing in Russia while bookings are falling around the world.

Court To Hear UES Suit Against Tatenergo
The arbitration tribunal at the United Energy Corporation (UEC) is due to hear a suit by Russia's UES against Tatenergo on 5 November, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 30 October. UES says Tatenergo owes it 903 million rubles ($30.5 million), while the latter rejects this claim since it is independent from UES. Tatenergo considers the UEC court subordinate to UES and therefore insists it will recognize only a decision by an independent court.

Muratov Elected Head Of Ukrtatnafta Observation Council
An Ukrtatnafta shareholders meeting elected Tatarstan First Deputy Prime Minister Ravil Muratov chairman of the company's supervisory board, "Vremya i dengi" reported on 1 November. Tatarstan's presidential adviser on oil and gas issues, Renat Muslimov, the Tatneft first deputy general manager, Nail Maganov, and the head of the Tatarstan's trade representation to Ukraine, Rostislav Vakhitov, were elected board members. The Tatarstan government has a 29 percent stake in Ukrtatnafta and another 8 percent of shares belong to Tatneft. Oil deliveries to the company increased 13.5-fold during the first nine months of the year compared to the same period in 2000, while oil processing totaled 7.5 times the 2000 rate.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Tatarstan Official Says Ownership Issue Could Kill Plans To Merge Petrochemical Industries
Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Industry Minister Sergei Kogogin said on 26 October that ownership is a key issue in the plan to integrate Tatarstan's and Bashkortostan's petrochemical industries. If Bashkortostan refuses to discuss that topic, he said, the idea of integration should be dismissed.

Kogogin was commenting on the Bashkortostan side's recent rejection of agreements on integration. One of the measures under these agreements, also rejected, supposed that Tatneft and Bashneftekhim would exchange their representatives on management boards. Kogogin said both sides are equally interested in integration and are closely linked to each other. They compete with each other in the oil sector, and Bashkortostan is unhappy with the construction of the Tuben Kama oil-processing plant, Kogogin said. He added that reconstruction of Bashneftekhim would cost Tatarstan one-tenth of the $1 billion construction cost of the Tuben Kama plant.

Bashkir National Organization Condemns U.S. Actions Against Afghanistan
World Bashkir Congress leaders called the U.S.-led antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan similar to Russia's war in Chechnya, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 28 October. They said that Russia has for years justified its brutal actions in Chechnya with statements about fighting international terrorism. Congress leaders said the Soviet Union is responsible for Afghanistan's having become a "hot spot." They condemned all forms of terrorism but said antiterrorist measures should be taken against true terrorists -- not against an entire people. The Bashkir movement activists said they condemn U.S. actions against Afghanistan and called for finding other ways to bring terrorists to justice.

Tatars In Bashkortostan Voice Support For Tatarstan Sovereignty
Tatar civic leaders have intensified their activities in the republic's raions to fight infringements on the language law, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 28 October. They appealed to Tatarstan State Council Deputy Tufan Minnullin to initiate parliamentary hearings in Tatarstan's legislature on the conditions of Tatars in Bashkortostan. They also sent a letter to Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev stating their support for Tatarstan's constitution and sovereignty. They stressed Tatarstan's importance for all Tatar people, not just those living in that republic. They said Tatarstan sovereignty is the only hope for Tatar survival and called on President Shaimiev to maintain it.

Tatar Daily Anxious About War In Afghanistan
"Kyzyl tang" called for an end to the war in Afghanistan on 27 October. The paper commented that bombings, in a country where one-story buildings are made of dung and donkeys are the primary means of transportation, serve to annihilate a peaceful population rather than plants and factories. It noted that the issue of Afghanistan's future government may break up the international antiterrorist coalition as the United States and Russia take different positions.

Tatar Scholar Skeptical About Tatar Intellectuals Forum
A forum of Bashkortostan's Tatar intellectuals previously scheduled for October has been set for 17 November, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 31 October.

But Ildus Sadretdinov, a lecturer at Bashkir University and the only Tatar philology researcher in Bashkortostan, expressed doubt that another Tatar organization was needed in the republic -- as "some 20 such organizations already exist here but do almost nothing to solve Tatars' problems." In case the body uniting intellectuals is formed, its leaders must be diplomatic, educated, and moderate rather than radical and ultra-nationalists, Sadretdinov said.

Moscow Officials Praise Bashkortostan Media
Mikhail Nenashev, the chief organizer of the Press-2002 exhibition in Moscow, said at a presentation of Bashkortostan's media on 26 October that the republic's press is distinguished by a "healthy conservatism." He said it is characterized by creative processes, rather than destructive ones. Nenashev said the republic's media have seen more gains than losses in the past decade.

The head of the Russian Press Ministry's periodicals board, Yurii Pulya, said that developing mass media for children and youth is a merit of Bashkortostan's press. Bashkortostan Press Minister Zufar Timerbulatov noted that 445 printed publications are issued in the republic in six languages.

Bashkortostan Delegation To Visit Kazakhstan
Deputy Prime Minister Midkhat Shakirov is due to visit Kazakhstan on 3 November to discuss cooperation in the fuel and energy sector and the mining industry, Bashinform reported.

Drug-Related Crimes On The Rise
Some 4,000 crimes connected with drugs have been registered in the republic so far this year, up 45 percent on the previous year's figure, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 26 October. Some 12.5 percent of students of higher education and 20 percent of college students have tried drugs.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Fedorov Registers As Presidential Candidate
Chuvashia President Nikolai Fedorov has become the third registered candidate for the republic's presidency, joining Duma Deputy Valentin Shurchanov and FSB General Stanislav Voronov, reported on 1 November. Eight contenders are thus in the race after former State Council speaker Nikolai Ivanov withdrew his candidacy on 30 October. The elections will be held on 16 December.

Chuvashia's Political Leaders Agree To Observe Ethics In Presidential Campaign
The leaders of the Unity, Fatherland, LDPR, and Yabloko political parties in Chuvashia on 25 October signed an agreement on maintaining ethical standards during the presidential electoral campaign, reported.

Chelyabinsk Residents Welcome Professional Army
Sixty-nine percent of Chelyabinsk residents polled said they favored a professional army while 3 percent said soldiers are needed for the Chechen war, reported on 29 October. One in three residents considers it necessary to undergo military service. Every fourth believes that military service is a citizen's duty to the state even if it contradicts private interests. Only 3-4 percent of respondents said one should avoid military service regardless of obligations to the state.

Prosecutors Protest Introduction Of Alternative Civil Service
Nizhnii Novgorod's acting prosecutor, Leonid Denisov, said he has appealed to the city administration to protest the introduction of alternative civil service in the oblast, reported on 30 October. The administration already passed a resolution launching an experiment on civil service, according to which 11 draftees were recruited to an alternative-service detachment.

Chechen Representation To Open In Perm
A representative organ of the Chechen Republic is likely to open in Perm in November, reported on 30 October. Imran Lorsanov, now an assistant to the presidential representative to Chechnya, will reportedly head the office. The mission is intended to provide economic aid for Chechnya.

Drug Flow To Perm Oblast Falls During Antiterrorist Campaign In Afghanistan
Officials in the Perm Oblast Interior Ministry's antidrug board said drug-trafficking has fallen in the oblast since the beginning of the antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 29 October. Some 90 percent of drugs reportedly enter the oblast from Afghanistan.

Human Rights Defenders Want To Sue Perm Commissioner
The Perm regional human rights center has filed a suit protesting the refusal by Perm garrison prosecutors to sue a Perm Oblast commissioner for beating two young men, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 26 October.

Saratov Ombudsman Promotes Regional Pardon Commissions
Saratov Oblast ombudsman Aleksandr Lando has proposed setting up pardon commissions among all federation members, Saratovbusinessconsulting reported on 26 October. Such bodies could include prominent citizens in the regions and help the presidential pardon commission, Lando said. Some 1 million residents in total are serving sentences in Russia, the agency reported.

Yavlinskii Says Oblast Duma Dismissal A 'Good Lesson' For Sverdlovsk Oblast
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii told Uralinformbureau on 29 October that the State Assembly of Sverdlovsk Oblast must be dissolved, as its work has been paralyzed for six months due to political differences. He added that the procedure should be initiated by Sverdlovsk Oblast Governor Eduard Rossel. Yavlinskii said the political involvement of deputies caused the crisis. He noted that a majority in a new parliament should be neutral regarding both Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii and oblast Governor Eduard Rossel.

Prosecutors Sue Sverdlovsk Government Head
The Sverdlovsk Oblast prosecutors' office filed charges against oblast government Chairman Aleksei Vorobyev and the general manager of the Saldinskii metallurgy plant, Sergei Kanchuk. Prosecutors have been investigating the embezzlement of 2 million rubles ($67,500) from the oblast budget, Uralinformbureau reported on 29 October.

Mosque Reconstructed In Tyumen Oblast
A mosque opened after reconstruction in the Yesaulovo village of Tyumen Oblast, reported on 29 October. From the 1920s until the 1990s, a school was located in the building.

Udmuria Government Unhappy With Low Subsidies
The deputy head of Udmurtia's government, Andrei Oskolkov, said the republic is not satisfied with Moscow's decision to allocate 64.5 million rubles for social institutions in Udmurtia, the Udmurtia agency reported on 30 October. Oskolkov said next year, regions will likely receive even less money under federal programs, as the Russian government considers foreign-debt payments a priority.

Ulyanovsk Legislature Elects Representative To Federation Council
The Ulyanovsk Oblast Legislative Assembly on 29 October elected the chief federal inspector to Ulyanovsk Oblast, Valerii Sychev, its representative to the Federation Council, reported.

Latyshev Meets Atomic Energy Minister
The presidential envoy to the Ural Federal District, Petr Latyshev, on 29 October met with Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev to discuss problems in the development of atomic energy in the district, Ural-Press-Inform reported. The two discussed the construction of a fourth power unit BN-800 at the Beloyarsk nuclear power station in Sverdlovsk Oblast and the prospects for the construction of a South-Ural nuclear power station in Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova