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Tatar-Bashkir Report: May 25, 2000

25 May 2000
President Shaimiev's TV Weekend
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev was interviewed by the political programs of Sergey Dorenko on Russian Public Television and Nikolay Svanidze on Russian Television [RTR] on May 20 and 21 respectively. Both programs were interested in Shaimiev's reaction to Vladimir Putin's initiatives of creating 7 administrative districts in Russian Federation and reforming the Federation Council.

In his interview with Sergey Dorenko, President Shamiev voiced his support to "establishing order" in federal government, "but" he stated, "measures offered by Putin must not lead to the limitation of the powers of regional governors. Still the state [Russia] must have common rules for everyone... Political reforms have overtaken economic reforms. We started reforming the local self-governments before defining the situation with the economy. Self-government seemed to involve less material resources and be easier to achieve. At the present moment, we need a definite mechanism for interaction between different levels of power. What was offered by President Putin is close to the political system existing in Tatarstan." Referring to the new administrative districts in Russia Shaimiev said that "at the present moment, I consider that division into districts only defines the borders of the activities of presidential representatives."

During his interview with Nikolay Svanidze, Mintimer Shaimiev admitted that in his republic he is superior to the Russian presidential representative in the Volga district, Sergey Kiriyenko. Shaimiev said that his republic annually brought 4-5 billion rubles to federal budget without getting any funds for carrying out federal programs. "Unfortunately" he said, "there is no criteria for evaluating the work of the Russian regions. Obviously, this will be the task for the new Russian government. Some of the regions are working effectively, some are taking money from federal budget. If they put donor regions into worse conditions we can lose our opportunities. This would be the worst possible development."

Tatar Public Center Conference On Press Affairs
Moderate nationalist Tatar Public Center (TPC) held a conference on the activities of the Tatarstan mass media on 24 May. The TPC urged the Tatar press to be "more professional" in covering its activities. TPC Chairman, Rashit Yagafarov, said during the conference that the Tatarstan press avoided mentioning his organization, "unwilling to distress the republican government." Yagafarov noted,"it is mostly Russian newspapers, "Izvestia" and "Nezavisimaya Gazeta," and foreign news agencies which are interested in the TPC, not the local press." A World Congress of Tatars official noted in his conference presentation that the current Tatar press "has a very small audience because it is too concentrated on cultural issues, without paying attention to legal, economical affairs." Chairman Yagafarov said that the increasing threat to the ethnic republics in Russia from the new federal government created a strong trend towards consolidation of ethnic groups in the Volga and Urals regions. He claimed that the TPC position was strong among the other ethnic organizations and the newly formed Volga administrative district united over four million Tatars in various republics and oblasts.

Tatar-Language Typing Enabled In Windows 2000
Computer specialists at Kazan State University cooperated with the Microsoft company to create Tatar-language fonts for the Windows 2000 platform which is available on the market after February, 2000. Cyrillic-based Tatar-language fonts are reportedly already possible in the Russian version of Windows. A special lab in the Kazan State University [KSU] previously dealt with creating Tatar fonts for DOS and Windows 95 systems. Windows 2000 does not feature Tatar-language command menus and command files. KSU laboratory specialist, Farid Salimov, told the Tatarstan press on 25 May that in 2002 Microsoft will possibly present the Tatar-language version of the Word text editor for the next Windows platform. At the same time KSU specialists are working on developing software for the Latin-script Tatar alphabet to be introduced within the next 10 years in accordance with republican legislation.

United Energy Systems Warns Bashkortostan
The press service of United Energy Systems [UES] of the Russian holding company announced that UES intended to force Bashkortostan's main electricity and heat supplier Bashenergo company to fulfill the decrees of the Russian government. Bashkirenergo reportedly refused to accept the energy fee rates suggested by the Russian government and UES on 31 March 2000. Bashenergo stated that 0,25 rubles per kilowatt/hour rate was unacceptably high and de-facto refused to prolong its contract with UES. The UES press-service also announced that Bashenergo's refusal to share the costs of rebuilding the energy facilities on the territory of Chechen Republic was "unacceptable."

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi.