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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 9, 2001

9 November 2001
Shaimiev Said Persuaded By Putin To Join Unity, Fatherland, All Russia Union
"Vostochnyi ekspress" reported on 2 November that President Mintimer Shaimiev has agreed to head All Russia in its merger with Unity and Fatherland following the urgings of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Presidential adviser Rafail Khakimov told the weekly that Shaimiev agreed to participate in the union since All Russia would be granted parity and receive equal representation within management bodies. He said All Russia was founded on the principles of centrism, federalism, democratization, and promotion of market reforms, so Shaimiev's participation in the new party guarantees that it will promote federalism.

Khakimov said that the new party must move from the center to the center-right to promote reforms. At the same time, Khakimov stressed, an influential left-wing party should be established to compete with the Communists, who hinder reforms. Khakimov noted that a "vertical power" concept is archaic and ignorant from the point of view of modern and efficient management techniques. If a market develops, there will be no place for vertical power, he said.

Tatarstan Communist Leader Calls For Peace Talks With Grozny, But Not With Maskhadov
In an interview published in "Vostochnyi ekspress" on 2 November, the leader of Tatarstan's Communists (KPRT), Aleksandr Salii, said his party has 6,000 members and 30 percent support among the republic's residents. Not a single communist was elected to the State Council in the last elections, he said, because Tatarstan is a "polygon of falsification." Salii asserted that "elected" representatives are instead appointed in the republic. He added that Tatarstan's press is not free.

Commenting on the Chechen problem, he said no solution can be found to resolve it by military means. He noted, however, that peace talks with Maskhadov are unacceptable and that Russia cannot allow him to remain in Chechnya. He said indivisibility is a top issue for Russia, adding that the idea of special status for Chechnya is probably unsuitable now; the example of Tatarstan, which is losing its special powers, proves his point, he said. Salii predicted that the Chechen war will not stop until "odious" politicians responsible for its beginning, including Sergei Stepashin and Vladimir Putin, are removed from power.

Yekaterinburg Television Begin Broadcasting In Tatar
Yekaterinburg city television channel ERA-TV began transmission of a weekly broadcast in Tatar language, the "Good Evening" program, Tatar-inform reported on 2 November. The first issue of the broadcast included an interview of Tatarstan's State Council chairman, Farid Mukhametshin, who urged Tatars of the Sverdlovsk Oblast "to be persistent in studying the Tatar language."

Rostselmash To Deliver 300 Combines To Tatarstan
Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Rostselmash General Manager Sergei Lebedev agreed on the 426-million-ruble purchase by Tatarstan of Don-1500B combine harvesters, Tatar-inform reported on 3 November. Three-hundred vehicles will be delivered to the republic by January.

Conference On Religious Architecture Held In Kazan
Mayors and architects from the Volga Federal District gathered in Kazan to discuss the development of religious architecture, Efir-Inform reported on 5 November. Vladimir Zorin, the deputy presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, told the conference that Kazan is the "most international" among the district's five cities with more than a million inhabitants. There are 760 religious architectural monuments in Tatarstan.

Antiterrorist Exercises Held In Tatarstan
The republic's law-enforcement bodies recently held an antiterrorist training operation dubbed Hurricane, Efir-Inform reported on 5 November. The Interior Ministry leadership said it was satisfied with the results of the 10-day exercise, during which 18 of 20 "terrorist acts" were prevented, the agency said.

Meanwhile in an article titled "Don't look terrorists in the eye," the daily "Vechernyaya Kazan" on 3 November published recommendations by psychologists on how to conduct oneself if one is kidnapped.

Warrant Officer Sued For Assault And Battery
Prosecutors filed charges against warrant officer Vladimir Misyurev, who allegedly physically abused 10 soldiers in a Kazan military unit, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 2 November. Seven of the soldiers required hospitalization after the incident, during which they did not defend themselves for fear of disciplinary action, the daily said.

Avoiding Military Service Said To Cost 20,000 Rubles
"Vechernyaya Kazan" on 3 November cited draftees residing in Kazan as saying that the staff of enlistment offices will exempt young men from military service for a bribe of about 20,000 rubles ($673). The paper cited rumors that one can buy even a military card certifying that its bearer has passed military service, adding that enlistment offices categorically deny the information.

Political Researcher Calls For Maintaining Power-Sharing Treaty
Political analyst Marat Khairullin wrote in "Respublika Tatarstan" on 6 November that Moscow's negotiations with Kazan to harmonize Tatarstan's constitution proves that Moscow still recognizes Tatarstan's special status. He said that Tatarstan's leaders have demonstrated their ability to solve political problems in a civilized and legal way. They succeeded in initiating harmonization talks and obtaining Moscow's permission for President Shaimiev to serve a third term and as well making Moscow provide a special federal program for Tatarstan's social and economic development.

Khairullin stressed that Moscow must find a compromise with its strongest Turkic and Muslim republic in order to avoid a split between Christians and Muslims within the country. He said the economic successes of Tatarstan, which leads the regions of the Volga Federal District in terms of economic development and has the third-highest production volume and fifth-highest investment level in Russia, are to a great extent the results of its sovereignty, its constitution, and the power-sharing treaty with Moscow. He called for maintaining the power-sharing treaty as a means of overcoming contradictions between federal and republican constitutions.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Sibay Bashkir Congress Says Law On State Languages Not Being Respected
The Bashkir Kurultay (congress) in Bashkortostan's Sibay Region adopted a public statement on 3 November urging the regional administration to open more Bashkir classes in schools "to compensate for the decades when Bashkir education was banned." The congress addressed Sibay businessmen, demanding that they use bilingual shop-signs in Russian and Bashkir, as required by the republican law on state languages. The Bashkir congress leaders also protested the use of "Russian and Bashkir shop-signs in Latin script." Official statistics report that Bashkirs represent 40 percent of Sibay's population.

Bashkortostan Reports Increasing Drug Problems
The Russian "Vek" weekly reported on 5 November that the Republic of Bashkortostan had the highest upsurge in drug addiction (45 percent) among Volga Federal District regions in 2001. According to a list composed by the Volga District's interior bodies, neighboring Tatarstan and the Orenburg Oblast saw addiction spread more slowly, at 39 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are reported to be the major "importers" of drugs to Bashkortostan, delivering drugs largely produced in Afghanistan.

Rakhimov Pays An Old-Fashioned Tribute To Bolshevik Revolution Day
Although 7 November is officially celebrated as a Day of Accord and Reconciliation in Bashkortostan, President Murtaza Rakhimov in his message to the people referred to the event as "a great October socialist revolution day," to some observers more reminiscent of communist-era traditions than the post-Soviet regime.

Some 41 Hospitals Closed Due To Absence Of Doctors
Health Minister Rais Khasanov said on 6 November that 41 hospitals in the rural regions of Bashkortostan are not in operation "due to an alarming lack of staff." Hospitals in the Ufa, Belebey, Arkhangelsk, Elshe, Chakmagush, and Chishme regions face the same problem but have reportedly managed to stay open. The minister blamed the shortage of doctors on low wages and the absence of social security to state hospital workers.

Unemployment Figures Down
Positive changes in Bashkortostan's economy improved the employment situation in the republic, the State Statistics Committee reported on 5 November. Some 86,400 residents were registered as unemployed in 2001, while the jobless rate dropped from 8.2 percent to 6.8 percent of the workforce. Women represent a majority of those unemployed (54.5 percent), although they are characterized as the most active searchers for jobs.

Bashkir Deputy Pushes To Ease Sanctions Against Drug Users
The Russian State Duma deputy representing Bashkortostan, Zaynulla Bagishayev, said on 6 November that the existing Russian legislation "classified drug addiction as a crime equal to dealing drugs." He suggested that more lenient measures should be used against drug users than against dealers to more effectively fight drug addiction.

Alcohol Sales Grow
The sale of alcoholic beverages grew by 8.4 percent in 2001 compared to the previous year in Bashkortostan, the State Statistics Committee reported on 8 November. Alcoholic beverages represent 10.9 percent of total retail sales this year.

Bashkortostan To Prospect For Oil Beyond Ural Mountains
The Bashkir government's geology and natural resources board said on 8 November that there was hope of discovering new oil deposits in the area beyond the Ural mountains. Geologists are expected to begin oil prospecting in the Baymak Region of Bashkortostan in 2002.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Fourth Candidate Withdraws From Presidential Race In Chuvashia
Chuvash University Rector Lev Kurakov withdrew his candidacy for the presidency in favor of incumbent President Nikolai Fedorov immediately after Chuvashia's Central Electoral Commission registered him as a candidate, Rosbalt reported on 3 November. Three candidates -- Fedorov, Duma Deputy Valentin Shurchanov (KPRF), and FSB General Lieutenant Stanislav Voronov -- have so far been registered by the commission.

HIV-Infected Donors Registered In Mordovia
Officials at the Mordovian Anti-AIDS Center said they have registered three HIV-infected donors recently, reported on 6 November. Specialists said the spread of HIV-infection through blood transfusion is a serious risk in a republic that faces a blood shortage and uses donated blood after one-day tests. Meanwhile, Anatolii Ivanov, the head of the republican antidrug clinic, told on 3 November that by 2005, the level of drug addiction in Mordovia will become critical for the economy and public health.

Enlistment Bodies Unhappy With Alternative Service In Nizhnii
Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast Commissioner Aleksei Volkov told on 6 November that the oblast's enlistment office may abolish its experiment on alternative civil service. Volkov said the decision by the Nizhnii Novgorod mayor to introduce alternative service contradicts federal legislation. Nizhnii Novgorod leaders launched the project after an appeal by local human rights activists. Eleven candidates are to begin their three-year service in a Nizhnii hospital on 15 January.

Leaders Of Four Faiths Plan To Unite Antidrug Efforts In Penza
The Penza Oblast leaders of four religions -- Orthodox, Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Jewish -- told a news conference on 5 November that they plan to establish an interfaith council to fight drug addiction, reported.

Perm Electoral Commissions Close Registration For Candidates To Oblast Parliament reported on 5 November that 136 candidates will compete for 40 deputies' mandates in Perm Oblast parliamentary elections. Two of every three deputies in the current legislature have been registered as candidates.

Perm Communists Spawn Successors
Communists in the Perm Oblast accepted five Komsomol (Bolshevik) members and nine Pioneers to their youth and children's branch organizations to mark the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Region-Inform-Perm reported on 6 November. Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) oblast committee members said there are 600 Pioneers and Komsomol members in the oblast, while they claim that in several schools of the Chernushinskii and Bardinskii Raions all children are Pioneers.

Mufti Calls On Differentiating Between Islam And Religious Extremism
Ravil khazrat Gainutdin, the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, told a conference titled "Islam -- Religion of Peace" in Saratov that Islam should be separated from religious extremism, reported on 5 November. Many people now equate Islam with Wahhabism, he said. Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov told the conference that 27 Muslim communities, all of them subordinate to the Muslim Religious Board of the Volga Region, have been registered in the oblast. He added that members actively participate in the civic life of the region.

Meeting with Governor Ayatskov on 3 November, Gainutdin said there are no religious or ethnic conflicts or contradictions between Muslim communities in the oblast, unlike in other regions. He awarded Ayatskov a silver medal instituted by the Muslim Council for his contribution to civil peace and concord.

U.S. Consulate Apparent Object Of Hooliganism
Several youths threw bottles filled with paint into a building of the U.S. Consulate in Yekaterinburg, Ural-Press-Inform reported on 5 November, adding that the National-Bolshevik Party of Russia in Sverdlovsk Oblast took responsibility for the incident. A consulate spokesperson commented the same day that the action might have been aimed against the Uralmetprom company that shares the building with the consulate. Uralmetprom Deputy General Manager Pavel Volkov told that "hooligans most likely wanted to attack the consulate," near which a picket had been staged the same day.

Chief Federal Inspector Appointed To Ulyanovsk Oblast
Aleksandr Ivanov, 42, previously the federal inspector to the Ulyanovsk Oblast, was appointed acting federal inspector to that oblast, reported on 6 November.

UAZ Debt Restructured
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed a resolution restructuring debts owed by Ulyanovsk automobile plant to the federal budget and ordering the facility to repay it by 2009, reported on 5 November.

New Aviastar Board Elected
An extraordinary meeting of shareholders of Ulyanovsk aviation enterprise Aviastar on 5 November elected a new board of directors, reported. The Ulyanovsk Oblast administration and Sirokko Aerospace Rossiya are represented in the new board with three members each, while Aviastar's main shareholder -- joint-stock company Tupolev -- has one member. Leasing companies group Leader, Gosinkor, and Rosaivakosmos also have representatives on the board. None of the new board members is an Aviastar employee.

Members of the former management board, headed by Tupolev Vice President Aleksandr Polyakov, reportedly set their next meeting for 4 January.

Ulyanovsk Oblast Restructures Debts Before UES
Ulyanovsk Oblast Governor Vladimir Shamanov and UES head Anatolii Chubais agreed on terms to restructure the 2.4-billion-ruble debt the oblast owes UES, reported on 8 November. Under the agreement, payments on the old debt will be postponed until 2004, and the debt will then be repaid over the following six years.

Latyshev Denies Speculation He Could Become Russian Interior Minister
Visiting Nizhnii Tagil on 6 November, the presidential envoy to the Ural federal district, Petr Latyshev, denied rumors that he is going to head the Russian Interior Ministry, reported. Latyshev said is not in any talks on the issue.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova