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Tatar-Bashkir Report: November 23, 2001

23 November 2001
Shaimiev May Anchor Power-Sharing In Constitution
"Zvezda Povolzhya" on 22 November reported that the parliament will likely begin debating a new version of the republican constitution on 29 November and hopes to finish the harmonization work by the end of the year. The weekly said President Mintimer Shaimiev wants to enshrine the main principles of the republic's power-sharing treaty with Moscow in the constitution. Publication of the draft was reportedly delayed as the Russian Constitutional Court hears a case against the Tatarstan Constitution filed by Tatarstan resident Marsel Salyamov. According to the paper, new elections to the State Council and local administration heads will be set for March.

Supreme Mufti Decries 'Parallel' Religious Groups
The supreme mufti of Russia and the European countries of the CIS, Talgat Tadjuddin, told "Izvestia" on 19 November that the Muslim Central Religious Board does not need any special program to fight terrorism or extremism, as it "lives along such principles." Tadjuddin sharply criticized "parallel" Muslim religious bodies being created in Russia and financed by foreign religious centers. He said Russian legislation on freedom of consciousness and religious organizations connives to create such "parallel religious bodies." Tadjuddin stressed that financial subsidies for Wahhabism and extremism must be prevented to fight these trends in the country, and he called for the introduction of a requirement for religious organizations to present "transparent" financial accounts.

Meanwhile, in an interview published in "Trud" on 14 November, Tadjuddin said that 28 regional Muslim boards that unite more than 2,500 communities and represent 95 percent of Russia's Muslims, excluding the North Caucasus, are members of the Muslim Central Religious Board he heads.

Christian Tatar Views Differ On Ethnic Status
In advance of the upcoming 2002 census, Russia's Christian Tatars plan to hold a Russia-wide congress to adopt, among other documents, a declaration of self-determination, "NG-religii" reported on 14 November.

In a report on Christian Tatars broadcast by RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service on 18 November, a priest from the Christian Tatars' Tikhvin Church in Kazan said the name of his people -- "Kreshen" -- does not mean "baptized," as it is now considered. He said it existed long before Tatars were baptized by Ivan the Terrible. The priest supports the idea that Christian Tatars have their own language, aside from Tatar.

Meanwhile, history professor Amirdzhan Dewletshin said Christian Tatars are not a separate nation but an ethnographic group within the Tatar people which appeared as a result of the Russian Empire's colonial policy. In the 18th century, Christian Tatars made up 8 percent of Tatars; but in 19th century, almost half returned to Islam; by 1917, they totaled 4 percent of Tatars.

A Tatar language specialist and Christian Tatar, Nikolai Maksimov, said that Christian Tatars do not have their own language but speak the same as all Tatars. Still, he called for the promotion of the cultural hallmarks of Christian Tatars.

A senior reviewer on the State Council staff and a Tatar poet, Christian Tatar Grigorii Rodionov, said that republican state bodies ignore the needs of Christian Tatars in the development of their culture, folklore, and history. At the same time, he opposed the idea of dividing Tatars into several peoples, Christian Tatars among them. He said Christian Tatars "are not too religious" and their ties with Turkic peoples are stronger than with the Christian faith. He said Christian Tatars would likely be more easily assimilated by Russians than by Tatars.

Tatarstan Said Unable To Use Referendum Against Moscow
"Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 21 November that a harmonized law on referendums does not offer the republic a chance to introduce questions without agreeing them with Moscow, so the republic's leaders will not be able to address issues like those used in the 1992 referendum. According to Russian legislation, Moscow can even challenge the results of a referendum in court and ignore them, the paper reported. The daily said that a possible referendum on a new constitution will likely become a "nationwide ratification of the act of capitulation."

Bulgar Leader Promotes Idel-Ural Republic
In an article published in "Novaya vecherka" on 21 November, Gusman Khalil, the president of the Bulgar National Congress, said that Tatars were artificially created by Bolsheviks in 1920. He called for the promotion of an Idel-Ural Republic, which was created in 1917 for all Russian Muslims, rather than a republic of Tatars. Khalil said the Idel-Ural Republic was a unique example of solving a national issue on the principles of democracy and human rights, adding that its constitution did not need state sovereignty. He said the Tatar identity has resulted in some 90 percent of Tatars suffering from a national inferiority complex since, in Russia, being Tatar means being a second-tier person.

KamAZ Seeks Assembly Line In China
KamAZ acting Vice President Dahis Valeev said his company is negotiating with Chinese Dung Feng the creation of a joint venture to assemble KamAZ trucks in the north-west of China, AK&M reported on 20 November. KamAZ plans to invest $5 million in the project. reported the same day that Yurii Gorozhaninov was appointed the concern's vice president of marketing and sales on the domestic market and general manager of KamAZ's trade-finance company. Gorozhaninov headed the KamAZ engine and aggregate plants in the 1980s and was the general manager at UralAZ in 1988-99.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Tatars Organize Rights Group
Speechmakers at a 17 November Tatar Intellectuals Forum expressed deep discontent with what they called a lack of effort by Tatarstan authorities to safeguard Tatar rights in Bashkortostan. Some said they were concerned with curbs on free speech in Bashkortostan and thanked Kazan newspapers "Tatarstan Yashlere" and "Zvezda Povolzhya" for covering Tatar issues.

Forum participants also voted to form the Tatar Intellectuals Club, which is to elect its chairman in January 2002 and become a "nerve center" for Tatar ethnic organizations in Bashkortostan. Although it plans to battle the threat of falsehoods during the upcoming national census, the Club reportedly will not seek formal registration with the Bashkortostan Justice Ministry.

Muslim Leader Drops Tatarstan From 'Radical Islamic Regions' List
Supreme Mufti Talgat Tadjuddin, the chairman of the Ufa-based Russian Central Muslim Religious Board, did not include Tatarstan in recent statements on Russian regions that foster radical Islamic Wahhabism, RFE/RL reported on 18 November. Earlier this year, Tadjuddin accused Tatarstan's Muslim community of letting teachers from Iran and Saudi Arabia preach radical Islam in local religious schools with the blessing of the republican government. Tadjuddin cited a Russian federal security investigation into cases of young Muslims from Chally joining rebel militant groups in the Chechen Republic. In the Muslim leader's opinion, radical Islam is still being propagated in Mordovia and Siberia.

Bashkortostan Resident Accused Of Serving Chechen Militants
Daghestan interior authorities detained a 20-year-old ethnic Russian resident of Bashkortostan at the Yanga Churba checkpoint together with two other suspected mercenaries from Daghestan and Great Britain, RFE/RL's Ufa correspondent reported on 18 November. The men were allegedly planning to join Chechen militants. Their car reportedly contained a large cache of weapons and Wahhabist literature.

Prime Minister Says Oil Prices To 'Slightly' Curb Industrial Development
Prime Minister Rafael Baydavletov told his cabinet ministers on 21 November that positive industrial-development figures in 2001 were "clouded by trends toward the collapse of world oil prices." Bashkortostan's year-on-year industrial production has grown by 7.6 percent this year, while tax revenues totaled 41 billion rubles ($1.371 billion). Baydavletov said falling oil prices could bring about a "slight slump" in industrial production figures.

Bashkirenergo Battles Slow Debt Repayment By Consumers
Bashkirenergo customers currently owe 4.8 billion rubles ($160.5 million) for power and heat that has already been delivered, Bashinform reported on 21 November. The company is forced to take 40 million to 70 million rubles ($1.34 million to $2.34 million] in loans every month to pay Russia's United Energy Systems and Gazprom for power and gas, wages to its employees, and tax payments to federal and republican authorities. Twenty-three percent of the payments are owed by farms, which are considered unattractive debtors and prefer to offer Bashkirenergo their products to repay debts rather than cash. The republican government will reportedly back 40 percent of a 546 million rubles ($18 million) payment from farms by the end of 2001.

'Operating Expenses' Consume 72 Percent Of Spending
More than 28 percent of Bashkortostan's budget revenues will be invested into the republic's economy, while the rest (18.527 billion rubles, or $619.6 million) is to cover the republic's "operating expenses," Bashkir State Radio reported on 20 November.

Agidel Leads Small-Business Statistics In Bashkortostan
Agidel, the future location of the Bashkir Nuclear Power Plant, so far has the highest number of small businesses per capita, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on 19 November. Twenty-two percent of Agidel residents work in small private companies, compared to 4.8 percent in the Bashkir capital, Ufa.

No Heating Failures Expected This Winter
The technical state of heating networks and sufficient backup fuel reserves should ward off any cutoffs in gas supplies this season, Bashkortostan state TV reported on 20 November.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Chuvashia Police Quash 'Agitation' For Opposition Presidential Candidate
Authorities in Novocheboksarsk in the Chuvash Republic beat several participants in a students' meeting to prevent them from "agitation" for presidential candidate Stanislav Voronov, reported on 20 November. Police also seized an opposition newspaper that was being distributed at the meeting, in which Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov took part. The meeting attracted several thousand young people to mark International Students Day, the agency said.

Students Stage Hunger Strike To Demand More Funding
Some 100 Chelyabinsk students held a four-day hunger strike on 14-18 November to demand bigger grants and repayment of other subsidies, Region-Inform reported on 20 November. Trade union leaders from Chelyabinsk Pedagogical University told the agency that the action had no results and "neither the president nor the government have heard students' demands."

Chechen Veterans Sue Marii El Interior Ministry For Compensation
Some 80 interior bodies employees filed suits against the Marii El Interior Ministry seeking payment for their participation in military actions in Chechnya, reported on 16 November, citing "Moskovskii komsomolets v Marii El." A Yoshkar-Ola city court has agreed with most of the suits and ordered the ministry to repay more than 2 million rubles ($67,000) in compensations to its employees. However, ministry officials told the newspaper that their body is not receiving the funding for those payments from the Russian Finance Ministry.

Anti-Globalization Group Protests Russian WTO Membership
Some 400 members of the Russia Against WTO organization on 18 November staged a meeting in Nizhnii Novgorod's central square to protest Russia's accelerated entry to the World Trade Organization, reported. Police seized an effigy of Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as participants were preparing to burn it, the website said.

Ural Cossacks Found Country-Wide Cossack Party
Mikhail Lonshchakov, the acting chieftain of the Orenburg Cossacks Army, told Ural-Press-Inform on 16 November that founding documents of a Russia-wide political party, Cossacks of Russia, have been delivered to the Russian Justice Ministry. Lonshchakov said the new party is intended to promote the interests of Cossacks and "help free them from the dictates of bureaucrats at all levels."

Police Pursue KPRF Activists For Defaming Duma Deputy
Interior bodies in Perm Oblast raided the apartments of local KPRF activists to find leaflets defaming Duma Deputy Andrei Klimov, reported on 21 November, citing the regional independent newspaper "Zvezda." Leaflets calling supporters of the Land Code in the Duma, including Klimov, "successors of Hitler's cause" were distributed in the oblast's Yurla and Pozh villages. The first secretary of the local KPRF branch, Vladimir Ivanov, told "Zvezda" that he ordered distribution of the leaflets and considers them perfectly legal.

Stolypin Monument To Be Erected In Saratov Oblast
Saratov Oblast Governor Dmitrii Ayatskov said a monument will be erected in his oblast to commemorate "a great Russian reformer," Petr Stolypin, Saratovbusinessconsulting reported on 20 November. Ayatskov said the monument will be decorated with a sign reading: "We need great Russia."

Three Die In Sverdlovsk Tank Explosion
Three servicemen died as a result of a T-72 tank explosion on exercises near the Yelan village in the Ural military district, Novyi region reported on 16 November. The T-72 was popular in the former USSR and Warsaw Pact armies.

American Diplomat Meets Afghan War Veterans
A military attache of the U.S. Embassy to Russia, Colonel Kevin McGrat, met in Yekaterinburg with members of a Russia-wide organization of disabled Afghan War veterans to discuss the current military and political situation in Afghanistan, Region-Inform reported on 20 November.

Health Officials Say 40,000 HIV-Carriers In Yekaterinburg
The Yekaterinburg Health Board reported that 4.246 HIV-positive residents have been registered so far but added that the true number of HIV-carriers in the city is probably more like 40,000, reported on 19 November. Some 30 percent of those infected are women.

Prosecutors Say Regional Authorities Cannot Restrict Tobacco, Alcohol Advertising
Tyumen prosecutors are challenging a prohibition by Tyumen authorities of tobacco and beer advertisements, saying the issue is subordinate to federal authorities, Tyumenskaya linia reported on 20 November. Tyumen Mayor Stepan Kirichuk on 6 September ordered the removal of tobacco and alcohol advertisements in the streets after Tyumen Oblast Governor Sergei Sobyanin issued a similar order. Eighty-four of 358 billboards in Tyumen peddled tobacco and alcohol products.

Udmurtia's Volkov Agrees With Referendum On Environmentally Controversial Project
Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov said on 19 November that he agrees with holding a referendum on the construction of a rocket-fuel-utilizing facility in the Votkinsk Raion, Udmurtia reported. "We must do everything to prevent the issue's becoming a political one," he said. The republican government already has all the necessary documents to begin construction.

The Ecological Union of Izhevsk addressed a letter to the head of Udmurtia TV and Radio, Vera Kadyrova, in which it protests against the one-sided position of the company on the issue. The letter says the project's opponents have received little or no air time on the channel.

SIDANKO Branch Acquires State Stake In Udmurt Oil Company
SIDANKO-Neftepererabotka has won the state auction for a 15 percent stake in the Udmurt Oil Company, Yugra-Inform reported on 19 November. The SIDANKO branch purchased the stake for 49.5 million rubles ($1.7 million).

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova