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Russia Report: June 27, 2005


27 June 2005, Volume 5, Number 25
NORTH CAUCASUS
DMITRII KOZAK: TROUBLESHOOTER OR SCAPEGOAT?
By Liz Fuller

In the nine months since his appointment as President Vladimir Putin's representative to the Southern Federal District, former presidential-administration head Dmitrii Kozak has managed to defuse at least two major crises in the region -- in the Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic last November and in Adygeya in May.

He has also drafted a plan for resolving the dispute between North Ossetia and Ingushetia over Prigorodnyi Raion under which some 10,000 Ingush displaced persons are to return to that district by the end of 2006. It was North Ossetian President Aleksandr Dzasokhov's rejection of that plan that set in motion the events that culminated in Dzasokhov's resignation last month, according to "Kommersant-Vlast," No. 22.

In a 26 May interview with RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya attributed Kozak's effectiveness on the ground to his comprehensive understanding of the nature of the problems facing the North Caucasus, in contrast to his predecessors, who according to Politkovskaya relied on "false information."

Politkovskaya's hypothesis is supported by a 16 June article in "Moskovskii komsomolets" by State Duma Deputy Aleksandr Khinshtein (Unified Russia), who claims that Kozak has compiled and submitted to Putin a detailed -- and damning -- analysis of the political situation in the North Caucasus that highlights such failings as top-level corruption and economic mismanagement.

In that draft analysis, extracts from which Khinshtein quotes verbatim, Kozak predicts a sharp rise in radicalism and extremism and an expanding disconnect between "constitutional democratic principles and existing realities," warning that those trends could lead to the emergence of "a macro-region of sociopolitical and economic instability" encompassing the entire North Caucasus and parts of Stavropol Krai.

Specifically, Kozak brands the leaders of the North Caucasus republics as venal and compromised, alleging that "corporate extended family groupings" within the various republican administrations have "monopolized political and economic resources," destroying the system of checks and balances intended to prevent such abuses.

In the light of that indictment of corrupt local leaders, it is puzzling that Kozak should have recommended that Putin reappoint for a second term embattled Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov, whom the Ingushetian opposition claims is widely hated precisely because he turns a blind eye to corruption within the upper echelons of the republic's leadership. Since last September, more than 1,000 people have signed an online petition (http://www.zyazikov.ru) calling on Zyazikov to resign.

Kozak was present at the 15 June session of the Ingushetian parliament that endorsed Putin's renomination of Zyazikov; he kept deputies' speeches to a minimum, and his bodyguards prevented the leader of the Ingushetian opposition, Musa Ozdoev, from approaching and speaking with Kozak, ingushetiya.ru reported.

There are, however, several possible explanations for Kozak's public display of support for Zyazikov, even given the glaring inconsistency between that support and Kozak's condemnation of official corruption. First, Kozak takes his orders from Putin, who may in the case of Zyazikov have been reluctant for whatever reason to sacrifice a fellow Federal Security Service (FSB) veteran even in the interests of preventing a popular uprising. The entire population of Ingushetia is, after all, only 316,900. And there is no obvious replacement for Zyazikov who would be acceptable to Putin. In a poll conducted between 12 January and 3 March, 45.5 percent of the 3,068 respondents said they would like to see former President Ruslan Aushev restored to that post; Ozdoev ranked in distant second place with 12.2 percent support, according to ingushetiya.ru.

Second, Kozak may have decided to make a virtue of a necessity and use his time in the North Caucasus to demonstrate publicly to the maximum extent his political and managerial skills. On 17 June, "The Moscow Times" quoted pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov as describing Kozak as "excellent in assessing problems, working out plans to regulate the situation and putting them into effect."

Third, due to his former close working relationship with Putin, Kozak may have believed that Putin would believe his evaluation of the state of affairs in the North Caucasus even if he had previously rejected similar negative assessments, and take swift action to remedy the situation. Kozak's diagnosis, after all, said nothing new. For example, Emil Pain, director of the Center of Ethno-Political and Regional Studies, similarly told "Vremya novostei" of 26 April that due to the "acute inadequacy of regional government in the Caucasus," a "gray zone" is taking shape there where local leaders "simulate loyalty to the federal center as the sociopolitical fabric of the Russian state unravels."

Fourth, in writing his analysis of the nature and extent of the problems Moscow faces in the North Caucasus, Kozak may have been motivated at least to some extent by the desire to cover his back and be able, as the Russian idiom puts it, to emerge dry from the water in the event of a major conflagration in the region, one that could even take Putin down with it.

Ranking those various hypothetical explanations in order of likelihood is all the more difficult in that it remains unclear whether Kozak's appointment as presidential representative was a punishment and exile, as Politkovskaya has suggested, or whether it was intended as a test of Kozak's true ability. Or perhaps Putin belatedly realized in the wake of the September 2004 school hostage taking in Beslan that he needs an agent in the North Caucasus whom he trusts completely. Recent reports that Putin is pleased with Kozak's performance to date and may be considering bringing him back to Moscow, possibly even as the next prime minister, would tend to support the latter hypothesis.

But even if this is Putin's plan, much may depend on timing. As Markov pointed out in his comments on Kozak's draft report to Putin, "the situation in the North Caucasus is so bad that it needs complete overhauling," not minor repair. "It is not the individuals or clans in power that should be changed but the whole system of governance," Markov concluded. Aushev, too, has advocated a "radical reevaluation" of Moscow's policies in the North Caucasus, which he described in a 6 June interview with regnum.ru as dictated by day-to-day breaking events -- a definition that is substantiated by Kozak's constant troubleshooting missions in recent weeks.

Khinshtein's "Moskovskii komsomolets" article did not reveal what, if any, proposals Kozak included in his report to Putin for remedying the situation. But any sweeping reform of Moscow's modus operandi in the North Caucasus would be a tacit admission on Putin's part either that he has failed to grasp the nature of the problem until now, and/or that he has made major errors -- for example in reappointing Zyazikov. And his seeming inability to admit to past mistakes appears to be among Putin's greatest weaknesses.

If one subscribes to the hypothesis that Kozak's appointment was a demotion, then he may now be in a vulnerable position for having spotlighted the shortcomings of Moscow's North Caucasus policy. Moreover, Kozak's tactical successes to date have all been outside Chechnya, and a radical deterioration of the situation there could severely damage his credibility. And even if radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev fails to make good on his threat to vent on Russia "a summer of fire," any spontaneous popular protest in the North Caucasus, such as those in recent weeks in Kabardino-Balkaria, could erupt into a major crisis that could test Kozak's skills to the limit.

Alternatively, following the leak of his draft report to the Russian press, any one of the entrenched North Caucasus leaders -- or more likely a member of their immediate circle who stands to lose out in the event of that leader's dismissal -- may decide that the most logical solution is simply to have Kozak removed from the political scene. Viktor Polyanichko, who was sent from Moscow in early 1993 to head the Temporary Administration in North Ossetia, and in that capacity reported directly to then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, was assassinated in August 1993.

DOES OUTRAGE OVER BOROZDINOVSKAYA SWEEP PRESAGE CHANGE OF TACTICS?
By Liz Fuller

On one level, the Russian authorities' outraged response to the sweep operation in the village of Borozdinovskaya in northeastern Chechnya on 4 June that triggered the exodus to neighboring Daghestan of several hundred local families appears to be a laudable, if exceptional and somewhat belated, acknowledgement of the arbitrary suffering inflicted on local noncombatants during the past six years of fighting.

Russian presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District Dmitrii Kozak, who met in Grozny on 22 June with a delegation from Borozdinovskaya, termed the sweep operation, in which one villager was killed and 11 abducted, "an act of sabotage directed against Chechnya, Daghestan, and Russia," and he vowed that those responsible will be apprehended and punished.

But there are grounds for suspecting that Moscow cares no more for the victims of the Borozdinovskaya sweep than for those targeted in hundreds of similar punitive actions and, in fact, plans to use the opportunity to neutralize a Chechen fighting force that in the past has crossed swords with Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. Why else should Moscow decry the Borozdinovskaya sweep when it has rationalized hundreds of previous such raids on the grounds that they are a necessary component of the "war on terrorism"?

The population of the village of Borozdinovskaya are mostly Avars who resettled there from Daghestan in the 1950s. According to "The Moscow Times" on 23 June, local Avar strongman Sharap Mikatov created his own informal militia to protect the village from Chechen gangs, including one headed by Sulim Yamadaev, a Chechen field commander based in Gudermes who fought from 1994-96 on the side of the Chechen resistance but switched to the Russian side at the start of the second war in 1999.

Mikatov's death in a shootout in 1998 left the village vulnerable to attack by pro-Moscow Chechens, and some Borozdinovskaya residents have told Russian journalists that they believe the Chechen-speaking perpetrators of the 4 June sweep were members of the Eastern Battalion of the 42nd Division of the Russian Army, which is commanded by Yamadaev and is reportedly directly subordinate to Russian military intelligence (GRU). Others even claim to have identified Yamadaev's head of intelligence, Khamzat Gairbekov, among the attackers, "The Moscow Times" reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Makhachkala on 21 June, Daghestan Security Council Secretary Akhmednabi Magdigadjiev identified the attackers as "a Defense Ministry special unit...consisting mainly of residents of Chechnya," Interfax reported. "These are people with authority, wearing uniforms and with weapons, fulfilling a mission to discover and destroy militant formations and terrorists," Magdigadjiev added.

That description could, however, equally apply to members of the presidential security force that is loyal to Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Kadyrov, "Vremya novostei" noted on 20 June. Kadyrov's men have reportedly clashed on at least one previous occasion with Yamadaev's, and earlier this year Kadyrov dismissed all police officials Yamadaev appointed in Chechnya's southern Vedeno Raion, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya pointed out in "Novaya gazeta" on 24 February. Politkovskaya also notes that the Yamadaev-Kadyrov standoff by extension pits Russian military intelligence against the Federal Security Service, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin made his early career.

Kozak's 22 June pledge to crack down on abuses committed against civilians in Chechnya may prove to be nothing more than a pretext to get rid of a Kadyrov foe in the run-up to the Chechen parliamentary elections tentatively scheduled for late November. Some Russian observers have already predicted that the new legislature will consist exclusively of deputies selected for their loyalty to Kadyrov.

(For more analysis on developments in the North Caucasus, subscribe to "RFE/RL's Caucasus Report" at http://www.rferl.org/reports/caucasus-report/default.asp.)

LAW ENFORCEMENT
POLICE BRUTALITY SHOWS TRACES OF CHECHNYA
By Julie A. Corwin

Stavropol Krai's human rights ombudsman Aleksei Selyukov last week sent a complaint to the krai prosecutor about alleged massive violations of human rights in the town of Ivanovskoe in the Kochygbeevskii Raion on the night of 11 June, when Interior Ministry troops reportedly rounded up more than 30 local youths at the town's disco, yufo.ru and Regnum reported on 17 June.

The police, armed with rubber truncheons and submachine guns, loaded the youths -- most of whom were between the ages of 14 and 23 -- onto a police bus and took them to a local police station, gazeta.ru reported. There they were forced to face the wall with their hands in the air without speaking. They were searched, their mobile phones taken away, and their passport information was taken down.

According to some of those detained, the police intimidated them, shoving them and striking them in such a way that they wouldn't leave bruises, gazeta.ru reported. The police then allegedly illegally photographed and fingerprinted the young men. Then after about two hours, they were released into dead of the night to walk home or hitch rides back to their village more than 15 kilometers away.

Local residents believe the event was an act of revenge by the police. According to gazeta.ru, a 29-year-old police officer was knifed to death in the neighboring town of Nevinnomysskoe in May. Local residents believe the police officers thought a raid on the Ivanovskoe disco would send a message to all the young people in the area.

Nearly a year has elapsed since Russia experienced the terrorist takeover by Chechen fighters of a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, that left more than 300 people dead. At a 9 June RFE/RL briefing, Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Moscow-based Demos Center for Information and Research, and Yuri Dzhibladze, president of the Moscow-based Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, argued that Beslan has become Russia's analogue to 11 September 2001, and federal and local authorities, at the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, have described Russia as a "fortress under siege." The dominant message to the public is that Russian society must consolidate in the face of the terrorist enemy. In this environment, opposition and criticism are labeled "traitorous."

Russian human rights groups, which frequently receive financial support from abroad, have been subjected to increasing scrutiny by the authorities, particularly those groups that deal with sensitive issues such as torture and other forms of abuse by police and the security services. As a result, the attention of such groups is being diverted away from such monitoring and toward defending themselves.

According to a survey conducted by the Levada Analytical Center in May, approximately 70 percent of respondents said they or their relatives could fall victim to illegal actions by law enforcement officers. In the same study, 73 percent of physicians and nurses providing primary medical assistance to victims of accidents or assaults said they believe the problem of police violence against detainees is quite serious.

The recent police raid in Ivanovskoe appears to replicate in miniature similar police raids in other parts of Russia. In February and March, the Tver Oblast town of Bezhetsk experienced two police raids in which police allegedly beat large numbers of people. One of the Bezhetsk raids was also carried out in a local disco and was rumored to have been motivated by revenge after some local young men reportedly tried to free an acquaintance who had earlier been taken into custody for "hooliganism."

In December, there were massive police raids in Blagoveshchensk, Bashkortostan, where local police have been accused of illegally detaining and assaulting hundreds of local residents. Similarly, in Blagoveshchensk, an initial theory about the raids in that city was that they were conducted to punish city residents after three police officers were beaten up shortly before the raids began.

According to a report published in March by Demos and Public Verdict on the law enforcement system, one of the primary reasons for police officers violating human rights is to protect the interests and the status of their colleagues. According to the report, "most frequently law enforcement officers use their authority and means of coercion to penalize individuals who have acted against other law enforcement officers, as well as to help their colleagues avoid liability for violations that they have committed."

Speaking at the RFE/RL briefing, Lokshina commented that the only reason the Russian public came to hear about Bezhetsk was because the raids occurred so close in time to the media storm about the raids in Blagoveshchensk. "We investigated the situation in Bezhetsk quite carefully," Lokshina said. "The only reason we know about Bezhetsk is because Blagoveshchensk was so bad, so scandalous, and attracted so much media attention that because of it small-scale events such as Bezhetsk became known. I am quite sure that events like Bezhetsk -- not a thousand people, but a couple dozen -- are actually quite common in Russia."

While investigations about the incidents in Bezhetsk and Blagoveshchensk are still under way, Dzhibladze concluded that the roots of such occurrences can be found not in Tver Oblast or Bashkortostan, but in Chechnya. "One of the clear roots of police violence is Chechnya," Dzhibladze said. "[Police] troops and officers are rotating there every half a year. They go back home and bring the experience of violence with impunity. The government is promoting such impunity -- there have been just a few cases where officers have been punished for crimes against civilians in Chechnya, out of -- you can imagine -- hundreds of cases in two wars. This gives a powerful, powerful signal to state agencies and forces that they are immune from prosecution whatever they do."

To support their comparison between the recent police raids and the conflict in Chechnya, Lokshina noted that a human rights lawyer working in Blagoveshchensk recently uncovered an internal Interior Ministry (MVD) document that described how police in "emergency circumstances" should organize "filtration centers" for the detention of suspects and their associates. "The lawyer found a certain MVD document stamped 'DSP,' or 'for internal use,' in which it is described how law enforcement should handle emergency circumstances -- not emergency situations as is already stipulated in the relevant law -- but some mysterious emergency circumstances. Within these mysterious emergency circumstances, the police have to organize filtration centers. It's there on paper. It's exactly what has been going on in Chechnya for years and now we suddenly find out that in any Russian city there can be a filtration center."

MEDIA
MEDIA DEALS SIGNAL BEGINNING OF ELECTION SEASON
By Julie A. Corwin

Changes have been rippling through Russia's print-media market in recent weeks, as owners are selling off stakes and reshuffling their management teams. Some analysts suspect the goal of these measures is to boost pliability rather than profitability. With State Duma elections scheduled for December 2007 and presidential elections the following spring, it would seem that it is not too early to start planning.

It's particularly not too early when you consider the "planner" -- a presidential administration that rarely leaves anything to chance. With national television already largely cleansed of controversial political content, the print media and the Internet remain among the few areas left in Russia for relative freedom of political expression.

Several important changes have taken place in the print sector in recent times. The Kommersant publishing company's board of directors on 22 June named Vyacheslav Borodulov as the new editor in chief of the influential "Kommersant-Daily," and Vladimir Lenskii was named general director of Kommersant publishing.

It was announced this month that metals magnate Iskander Makhmudov and his long-time business partner, Andrei Bokarev, each acquired 25 percent stakes in Rodionov publishing, which owns the weekly news magazine "Profil," Russian media reported on 9 June. On 21 June, Rodionov publishing became sole proprietor of the magazine "Kompaniya," and it is in talks to acquire a stake in "Versiya," strana.ru reported. The company plans to launch a Russian-language version of "Business Week" in September, "The Moscow Times" reported on 9 June.

Telekominvest purchased the weekly "Ogonek" from OVA-Press and has reinstated its former editor in chief Viktor Loshak, new agencies reported on 17 June.

And, in perhaps the biggest development in the sector in recent months, Gazprom-Media announced on 3 June that it has purchased a controlling stake in "Izvestiya," one of Russia's most respected and oldest daily newspapers. Gazprom bought the stake from ProfMedia, the media arm of oligarch Vladimir Potanin's Interros group.

In an interview with "Novye izvestiya" on 21 June, sociologist Boris Kagarlitskii commented that "nothing happens in the media market by accident, particularly on such a large scale." "In Russia today, media resources have more political value than commercial," Kagarlitskii said.

Igor Yakovenko, secretary-general of the Russian Union of Journalists, agreed that profits were probably not the motivating factor, at least with regard to the sale of "Izvestiya" to Gazprom-Media, according to Ekho Moskvy on 3 June. He noted that when Gazprom took over NTV in 2001, it was Russia's strongest television company, and now it has slid to third place.

Former "Izvestiya" Editor in Chief Raf Shakirov explained that during the September 2004 Beslan hostage crisis, the print media showed a different story than television and, in order to prevent a repeat of that discrepancy, "it was decided that print information should be brought into line." Shakirov stepped down from "Izvestiya" on 6 September 2004 under heavy pressure from ProfMedia over a controversial photograph that appeared on the front page of the daily during the Beslan crisis.

The liberal-leaning listeners of Ekho Moskvy seem to agree with Shakirov's assessment. In an express opinion poll, the station asked whether recent changes in the media market are connected with the upcoming presidential election. The response was an overwhelming "yes" from 92 percent of almost 1,000 respondents.

However, other observers are less certain that political considerations are necessarily guiding the recent changes. Yelena Bystrova, public-relations manager for "Vedomosti," told press-attache.ru on 20 June that the mass media in Russia will gradually stop being instruments of political influence, and "the media that have been built on the old principle need to change." Likewise, "Izvestiya" Editor in Chief Vladimir Borodin told Ekho Moskvy that he would hesitate to conclude the daily was sold for the Kremlin's propaganda purposes during the elections. "Ogonek" Editor in Chief Viktor Loshak also rejected any possible political context to his weekly's changing owners. He told press-attache.ru that "Ogonek" has a circulation of only 60,000 copies and can hardly influence the outcome of an election. "Therefore the process is absolutely within the framework of business," he concluded.

Press-attache.ru noted that Plutarch once remarked that "mutual deference and bonhomie, if not preceded by struggle, bespeak inertia and timidity, though they have been unjustly termed like-mindedness." If Gazprom-Media intends to institute editorial-policy changes at "Izvestiya," it would be wise to effect them piecemeal and long after the attention has died away. Borodin, in the meantime, knows he is on shaky ground, since it is not uncommon for a new owner to want a new management team. Borodin was named editor in chief by ProfMedia following Shakirov's resignation.

Commenting in "Novye izvestiya," Institute for Political Research Director Sergei Markov identified former oligarch and proclaimed Putin opponent Boris Berezovskii as the catalyst for recent changes in the media market, rather than the looming 2007-08 elections. He asserted that the majority of the changes in the media market, and not just in the print sector, are connected with the Berezovskii's moves and the need to forestall an "Orange Revolution" in Russia.

In a comment before the appointments of Lenskii and Borodulov at Kommersant were announced, Markov asserted that "Berezovskii is forming a powerful political team that he hopes will enable him to win the future political battle." "The authorities are taking steps, too," he said. "Establishing the [English-language] Russia Today TV news channel is an attempt to brainwash the international community, which plays an important role in the legitimization of regimes that come to power in the wake of colored revolutions."

Other commentators, including Gleb Charkasov, do not question that Russia's election cycle has already begun. Writing in gazeta.ru on 22 June, Charkasov argued that the massive information attack on Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is just one indication. Ivanov has been often touted as a likely Putin successor. Since late May, Russia's chief military prosecutor has held two news conferences highlighting a rise in crime in the military and suggesting on both occasions that the root cause of the crime wave is the "lack of discipline" in the armed forces. Ultimately, Ivanov's success or failure at the ballot box will be made on television, but in the meantime, when the battle for successor has not yet been won, it seems more than likely that a few prestigious dailies and weeklies, even with small circulations, could make a difference in this inter-elite struggle.

REGIONAL AFFAIRS
RUSSIA'S LARGEST MOSQUE OPENS.
Leaders of the Islamic world congregated on 24 June in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, to attend the official inauguration of the Qol Sharif Mosque, Russia's largest. The ceremony is part of festivities to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the city's founding.

Symbolically, it was in Arabic -- the universal language of Islam -- that Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish general-secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), delivered the inaugural speech at the foot of the Qol Sharif mosque.

"In the name of Allah the merciful," Ihsanoglu said. "We address our prayers to Allah, his prophets and all those who believe in him. May his peace and his blessing be on you."

Religious and political leaders from the entire Islamic world were in attendance. Delegates from Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and even Belarus, joined thousands of believers to perform their Friday prayers after the muezzin's azan, or first call.

Located within the Kazan Kremlin walls, Qol Sharif is the most prominent of the city's mosques. It is also Russia's largest. Its construction started nine years ago on the site where the old Qol Sharif mosque stood when the Russians conquered the city in 1552.

The mosque is named after Imam Seid Qol Sharif, who defended Kazan against the Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible. But, as Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev said on 24 June, the new building is meant to represent the multiethnic character of the small central Russian republic.

"The Qol Sharif Mosque stands next to the [Orthodox] Blagoveshchensk Cathedral," Shaimiev said, "and this has a profound meaning which is tied to the aspirations of the multiethnic peoples of the republic to live in peace and friendship. They stand next to each other as a symbol of mutual understanding between the country's two leading faiths."

Following the Russian conquest of Kazan, the city endured attempts to eliminate Islam. The more liberal policy of Empress Catherine the Great, however, led to a strong Islamic revival starting from the 18th century.

The next blow came in the 20th century, when the Soviet leadership persecuted Muslims and Christians alike. When the Soviet regime collapsed in the early 1990s, there was only one mosque left in Kazan. Today, there are 21.

OIC Secretary-General Ihsanoglu paid tribute on 24 June to the Tatars' ability to maintain their faith throughout history:

"Today, the entire Islamic world rejoices to see that the Tatar nation, which is the ultimate point of civilization reached by the religion of Islam, has managed to maintain its attachment to Islam and its civilization," he said. "The religion of Islam is one of the founding elements of its history and culture, and it resisted all attempts made over the past decades to alter its unique character."

Shamiev concurred, describing the white-and blue-tiled Qol Sharif mosque as a "spiritual bridge." "The Qol Sharif Mosque is not only the main mosque of the republic, it is also a new symbol of Kazan and Tatarstan. It is also a spiritual center for all Tatars. It is a spiritual bridge that connects our past with the future," he said.

Tatar authorities also hope the mosque will prove to be one of Kazan's main attractions, luring tourists from the Islamic world. The city is expected to welcome tens of thousands of guests when it celebrates the 1,000th anniversary of its founding in August.

(Information on Kazan's millennium celebration can be found at http://www.kazan1000.ru/eng.)

TIMELINE OF KAZAN
922: The generally accepted date when the Volga-region Bulgars adopted Islam.

1005: The generally accepted date of the founding of the city of Kazan, originally a military outpost.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, Kazan was a major trading center along the Volga River and the main city for Bulgar settlers in the region.

1223: Kazan Bulgars beat back the first wave of Mongol invaders.

1236: A Mongol army conquers the Bulgars and captures Kazan.

1361: Emir Bulat-Timur occupies the Bulgar region in a bid to strengthen the hold of the Mongol Golden Horde.

1376: The Bulgar region besieged by forces loyal to Moscow.

1391: First mention of the name of Kazan in Russian chronicles.

1399: Kazan considered one of the three power centers of the Bulgar sultans. Around this time, the city began minting coins and showing other evidence of increasing military and political influence.

1431: Bulgars suffer major military defeats at the hands of forces loyal to Moscow, indicating the beginning of the decline of Bulgar power in the region.

1445: Bulgar Prince Makhmudek defeats Moscow forces and is proclaimed the sovereign of Kazan.

15th and 16th centuries: During this period, the Kazan kremlin (fortress) complex was built up, as was the Kazan citadel within it.

1550: City population reaches about 50,00.

1552: Following a seven-week siege, Kazan falls to an army loyal to Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Control of the region was finally secured in 1557.

Second half of the 16th century: Kazan is gradually Russianized and it is forbidden for Tatars to live within the city.

1556: Construction of the white-stone kremlin begins, replacing the earlier wooden fortifications.

17th century: Kazan prospers economically, with the first appearance of manufacturing and the emergence of other nearby towns.

1708: Kazan becomes a gubernatorial center when Peter the Great institutes a political reform. City population is about 40,000.

1758: Opening of first provincial school for children of nobility. Muslim education system exists despite opposition from Moscow authorities.

1760: An urban-development plan laid out for city streets. About 10 percent of the city population is Tatar.

1771: Two Muslim religious schools opened. A third appeared in 1780.

1774: Kazan suffers heavy damage during a peasant revolt headed by Don Cossack Yemelyan Pugachev. Following the suppression of the revolt by Catherine the Great, she decrees that mosques may be built in the city. Official discrimination against Tatars continues, however.

1791: First permanent theater opened in Kazan.

1804: First university founded.

1830: City population is 43,000.

1859: Population of Kazan reaches 60,600.

1886: Kazan linked to international telephone lines.

1896: Construction completed on Kazan's first bridge across the Volga and the beginning of regular rail transport between Kazan and Moscow.

1897: Kazan is one of the five largest cities in Russia, with a population of 130,000, 22 percent of whom are Tatars. This year also sees the first appearance of gas and electrical streetlights.

1899: First electric tram appears.

1900: Kazan is a major religious center with 88 churches and temples and 13 mosques.

1918: Kazan briefly named capital of the Idel-Ural state during the Russian Civil War. It was also briefly the center of the anti-Bolshevik Bolaq-artee Republic. City population is 206,000.

1919: Kazan made administrative center of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In the following two decades, most of the city's churches and mosques are destroyed.

1926: City population is 179,000.

1939: City population is 398,000.

1941-45: During World War II, many factories from the western part of Russia are evacuated to Kazan and the city becomes a major manufacturing center producing tanks and military aircraft.

1959: City population is 667,000.

1989: City population is 1,094,400.

1991: After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazan again becomes a major center of Tatar culture.

2000: Kazan embarks on a major urban renovation, including construction of a subway system.

2002: City population is 1,153,000. Of that, about 42 percent are Tatars and 50 percent are Russians. Just over 1 percent are Chuvash. Nearly one-third of all marriages are between Russians and Tatars.

(Compiled by RFE/RL)

(Read more of RFE/RL's coverage of events in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/subregion/tatarstanandbashkortostan.html.)

POLITICAL CALENDAR
27 June: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to visit Kyiv

30 June-3 July: Chinese President Hu Jintao to visit Russia

1 July: Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski to visit Kaliningrad

4 July: 750th anniversary of the founding of Kaliningrad

5-6 July: Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, Kazakhstan

6-8 July: G-8 summit in Scotland

9 July: End of the Duma's spring session

10 July: Presidential election in Kyrgyzstan

26 August: CIS summit to be held in Kazan

September: First-ever Sino-Russian military exercises to be held on the Shandong Peninsula

1 September: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plans for the elimination of the estate tax, the simplification of individual tax declarations, and the simplification of the requirements for real-estate purchases

5 September: Fall plenary session of the State Duma opens

1 October: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its economic-development plans for the Far East, the North Caucasus, and Kaliningrad Oblast

23 October: Referendums to be held in Kamchatka Oblast and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug about the merger of the two federation subjects

1 November: Public Chamber expected to hold first session

1 November: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its proposals for limiting foreign-capital participation in the defense sector and strategic-resource development

1 November: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its proposals for judicial reform and combating crime, especially terrorism

Second half of November: Chechnya to hold legislative elections, according to pro-Kremlin Chechen President Alu Alkhanov.

1 December: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plans for reducing traffic accidents, alcoholism, and drug addiction, as well as its proposals for improving health care

1 December: Date by which President Putin has ordered the government to submit its plan to increase state-sector wages by 50 percent within three years

2006: Russia to host a G-8 summit in St. Petersburg

1 January 2006: Date by which all political parties must conform to law on political parties, which requires at least 50,000 members and branches in one-half of all federation subjects, or either reregister as public organizations or be dissolved

4-7 June 2006: World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum to be held in Moscow, hosted by the Guild of Publishers of the Periodical Press.

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