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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 10, 2000

10 May 2000
Tatarstan's Politicians Comment On Putin's Inauguration
Tatarstan's president Mintimer Shaimiev, State Council chairman Farit Mukhametshin, chief of president's staff Ekzam Gubaidullin, deputy general director of Tatneft company Rishat Abubakirov -- Vladimir Putin's trustees during presidential election campaign in the republic and deputies of Russian State Duma representing Tatarstan -- attended the inauguration of new Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on 7 May.

In his interview with Tatarinform agency, state advisor to republic's president, Rafael Khakimov, said that after Putin's final appointment "there would be no rough, unexpected changes in situation." In Khakimov's opinion, "Putin's relations with republics of Russia are quite normal and will not deteriorate." In commenting on the Orthodox Christian mass and the prayer which referred only to the contributions of the Slavic peoples during World War II at the Kurskaya Battle memorial on 3 May, attended by the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian presidents, Khakimov said this could be explained as 'simple political illiteracy, not evil intent." Concerning Putin's actual abilities to fight corruption in the Russian government, Khakimov said that "the objective situation will force Putin to struggle with corruption, but it's still unclear whether he is ready for that."

Moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center Chairman, Rashit Yagafarov, made a public statement on 8 May saying that he was concerned about the present trend towards reducing the independence of national republics in Russia. He said that "oppressive power would come to Russia, which we cannot call a dictatorship but we are wary about the current talks about gubernization." In Yagafarov's words, "the current situation disposes people of the Volga basin and the Urals to unitification." TPC chairman said that "it was too early to judge Putin's success in economic reforms and it would be hard for Putin to fight corruption because Yeltsin's people remained in place."

The secretary of Tatarstan's republican Communist Party committee, Robert Sadikov, told the press that he had "most depressive impressions from Putin's inauguration ceremony which staged a show of absolute hypocrisy." Sadikov further explained, saying "former President Yeltsin told Putin to take care of Russia, as [Yeltsin] is mainly responsible for Russia's current situation." In Sadikov's words Putin "would not keep any of his promises, but will do what is necessary for the oligarchs."

In his interview with Tatarstan's press on 8 May, the chairman of the political science department at Kazan State University, Professor Midkhat Farukhshin, said that "Putin's coming to power will mean the recreation of strong executive power." In his words, "the Russian State Duma and Federation Council would support the Russian president and Putin would abolish any expressions of economic, legal and especially political separatism." Farukhshin said that "one possible alternative for Putin's future regional policy could be obtaining full submission of regional leaders in exchange for their unlimited power in their regions." Concerning the present economic situation, Professor Farukhshin said that if the present regional elite remained on the stage there would be stagnation and immobilization of the Russian economy. Farukhshin said that there were no perspectives for ending corruption in Russia, because "the struggle would have had to start much earlier, but no progress has been made so far."

Kazan Contributes To Russia's Nuclear Shield
The new strategic bomber Tu-160 assembled at the Kazan Aircraft Plant [KAP] arrived at the Engels airbase, in Saratov oblast on 5 May, Tatarstan's press reported. The Chief Commander of the Russian Air Force, General Anatoly Kornukov, reportedly observed the landing.

Tu-160, known as Black Jack in NATO countries, was placed on serial production by Kazan Aircraft Plant in 1984. It is considered by Russian specialists to be the most powerful air strike system in the world. It is able of carrying all types of air weapons from nuclear weapons to regular bombs. Its American analogs, the B-1 and B-2, reportedly lag by about 30 per cent in their strike capabilities.

The Soviet government planned to produce 100 aircraft in Kazan, but later Tu-160ies were affected by US-Soviet Strategic Weapons Limitation treaty. At that time, 33 units of Tu-160 were produced of which 19 aircraft based in Priluki became Ukrainian property after the collapse of Soviet Union.

In June 1999, the Russian Defense Ministry signed a contract with KAP to finish the assembly of one bomber, while 4 unfinished units were available at the plant. Previously, Defense Ministry officials made numerous statements that the state would never complete its order of this aircraft. In response, KAP representatives told Tatarstan media that it would be more expensive to disassemble the bombers than to finish them. In his interviews with republican media on 5 May, the general director of KAP Nail Khairullin said that his plant expected to obtain orders to finish the assembly of the remaining Tu-160ies and repair the bombers purchased from Ukraine.

Tatar Public Center Objects to the Orthodox Emphasis In WW2 Commemoration Ceremony
The Chally branch of the Tatar Public Center [TPC] issued a public statement on 6 May commenting on the recent Orthodox Christian ceremonies at the Kurskaya battle memorial of World War II attended by the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian presidents. The statement said that "we cannot distort world history, we are all equal before our God, before the truth." TPC addressed its statement to the presidents saying,"there is an enormous mass of soldiers lying in the soil of Kurskaya battle field, there are representatives of all religions. Why there was only a Christian ceremony?"

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi.