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Tatar-Bashkir Daily Report
RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Service
Tatar-Bashkir Report Archive
12 September 2002
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
Shaimiev Comments On Sovereignty, Latin Script
Meeting in Kazan with a group of journalists from
Britain, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Switzerland, and Turkey
on 10 September, Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev spoke
about Tatar-Russian relations, saying that the Tatar
people have developed an ideology of their own
sovereignty and thus, cannot give up this notion.
Commenting on the issue of switching to the Latin
alphabet for the Tatar language, Shaimiev said the issue
had become overpoliticized. "Before the 1917 Revolution,
[Tatar] used the Arabic script, then the Latin one was
introduced, and then Cyrillic [was introduced]." Shaimiev
said that as a result of the constant introduction of new
alphabets, several generations have become isolated while
awaiting the transcription of literary works. As a
result, Shaimiev said, the republic decided to continue
the experiment on the reintroduction of the Latin
alphabet. At the same time, Shaimiev said that the
amendments to the law on the languages of the peoples of
Russia that were passed in the first reading on 5 June
contradict principles of international law (see "RFE/RL
Tatar-Bashkir Report," 6 June 2002).
Federal Minister Comments On Census Issues
AFP quoted Vladimir Zorin, Russian minister in charge of
nationalities policy, as saying that data in the October
census in Russia could be falsified to increase the
population of ethnic groups in certain republics, such as
Tatarstan, where Russians are a minority. Zorin said that
a test census will be conducted in an attempt to avoid
fraud. The results of the test census will be compared
with the results from the actual census to look for any
Zorin had previously said that Tatars were the
third-most-populous ethnic group in the Russian
Federation following Russians and Ukrainians (see "RFE/RL
Tatar-Bashkir Report," 11 July 2002). According to the
previous census in 1989, however, Tatars were the
second-largest ethnic group, with 5.5 million members.
Russians formed the largest group with 120 million, while
Ukrainians were third with 4.4 million, followed by 1.7
million Bashkirs, 1.2 million Belarusians, 1.1 million
Mordovins, and 900,000 Chechens.
Valerii Tishkov, head of the Ethnology and Anthropology
Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, had earlier
claimed that Tatar authorities may try to influence
census results in order to pad population statistics of
ethnic Tatars (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 10
Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova
DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Russian Paper Claims 'New Ethnic Conflict' Brewing In
The "Argumenty i Fakty" weekly published an article
titled "Who needs a second Chechnya" on 11 September,
devoted to the current developments with the "Tatar
issue" in Bashkortostan, describing the situation as an
"interethnic conflict growing before our eyes, similar to
the Chechen one." The article says that "the first bell
rang in early September during the third World Tatar
Congress in Kazan. At that time many of those present,
including Russian President Vladimir Putin, were shocked
by the speech of writer Aydar Khelim, who spoke about the
alleged genocide of Tatars in neighboring Bashkiria."
Disregarding previous media reports saying that the World
Tatar Congress took place in late August and President
Putin was not present at the Congress's plenary session
during which Khelim made his statement (see "RFE/RL
Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 August 2002), "Argumenty i
Fakty" added that Putin "strictly rebuffed the attempts
to raise interethnic discord."
"Argumenty i Fakty" also wrote that "several days later
group of journalists from one of the central TV channels
arrived in the republic with the task of registering
violations of Tatar population's rights by Bashkir
authorities.... It turned out that nobody fired the
'persecuted Tatar,' a gymnasium director M.
Khoseenov...." Nevertheless, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir
Service on 4 September cited the Belebey Tatar gymnasium
principal Nurmokhemmet Khoseenov as saying that local
authorities have launched a dismissal procedure against
him (See "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 4 September
The paper suggests that these developments were
"preparations for the presidential campaign in Bashkiria.
Especially given that the slogans of protecting the
oppressed nation (particularly Russians) had already been
used by [PR] consultants during the previous
elections.""Argumenty i Fakty" hypothesizes that the
"sudden and provocative escalation of the 'Tatar issue'"
was masterminded by Moscow PR experts to create a clash
between Tatars and Bashkirs in order to promote the
ethnic Russian candidate. It emphasizes that "the federal
center always had enough claims against the Bashkir
government. But no one had yet accused Ufa of wrongful
interethnic policies.... Precisely like this, by setting
one people against the other, almost all conflicts in the
Northern Caucasus began. And now a similar mechanism
seems to be launched against the Tatars and Bashkirs, who
have deep kindred roots.... If this genie is let out of
the bottle, there will be more terrifying consequences
than in Chechnya."
Election Commission Head Suggests Moving Presidential,
Parliamentary Votes To December 2003
Bashkortostan Central Election Commission Chairman Baryi
Kinzyagulov said on 11 September that in his opinion "it
would be reasonable to move" the dates of the republic's
presidential and parliamentary elections to December 2003
"to bolster electoral activity and increase the citizens'
responsibility for their choice," Interfax reported.
The current term of Bashkortostan's parliament expires in
March 2003 and President Murtaza Rakhimov's second term
in office will be over in June, while the Russian State
Duma elections are to be held in December the same year.
Kinzyagulov pushed for the rescheduling of the elections
by saying: "Even if the new [Bashkir] Constitution is
adopted in October-November [this year] there won't be
enough time to amend the [republic's] laws on elections
anyway. In this case we will have to launch the election
campaign for the State Assembly in December this year."
He also added that there won't not be sufficient time for
preparing the local election commissions, which will have
to recruit more than 30,000 officials. Admitting that in
case the elections are in fact scheduled for the same
date in December 2003, voters "will have some serious
work to do, filling in six or seven ballots...but it's
better to come to the voting station once and spend some
time filling in several blanks than go to elections every
month, like going to work."
Harvesting Figures In Bashkortostan
According to Bashkortostan's Ministry of Agriculture, 73
percent of the republic's crops have already been
harvested, BashInform reported on 11 September. The
Boray, Baltach, Ilesh, Nuriman, and Chishme regions are
reportedly closest to completing their harvest. Some
2,840 tons of grain have been harvested.
Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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