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Tatar-Bashkir Report: January 7, 2005

7 January 2005
President Sends Christmas Greetings To Orthodox Believers
President Mintimer Shaimiev extended greetings to Tatarstan's Orthodox residents, Patriarch Aleksii II, and Archbishop Anastasii of Kazan and Tatarstan on the occasion of Orthodox Christmas, and RIA-Novosti reported on 6 January. Shaimiev noted in his appeal that "for centuries, Orthodoxy alongside Islam and other traditional faiths have promoted the establishment of unique religious and cultural traditions of good neighborhood and tolerance, preservation of moral grounds of public life. Orthodoxy is an important factor of interethnic and interfaith concord, social wealth, and prosperity of Tatarstan."

Human Rights Leader Assesses Call-Up Campaign
The director of Tatarstan's Center for Peacekeeping and Human Rights Actions, German Aletkin, briefed media representatives on 6 January about the results of a hot line devoted to a call-up campaign and the sending of draftees into alternative civil service, Tatar-inform reported the same day. Aletkin said 430 republican residents have contacted the center through the hot line since it was launched on 20 September. Of the appeals, 284 were linked to the health issue, while about 10 callers, including deserters, complained of harassment. Some 20 people were sent into alternative civil service. Aletkin said applicants for alternative civil service faced a more humane attitude in the past call-up campaign, and not only religious beliefs but also pacifistic principles were taken into account. He also said call-up centers were equipped with telephones and draftees were able to telephone their parents.

City Transport Prices Rise, Gasoline Prices Decline
Gasoline prices fell in Tatarstan by some 5 percent to between 12 rubles ($0.43) and 14.5 rubles per liter on 1 January, "Vechernyaya Kazan" reported on 6 January. Prices thus have returned to the level of August 2004. The measure came in the wake of lower wholesale prices from oil refineries, according to the daily.

Tram, trolleybus, and bus prices will increase in Kazan from 5 rubles to 7 rubles, while fixed-route taxi prices will be raised from 7-10 rubles to 10-13 rubles in the second half of the month, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 6 January.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkir State Assembly By-Elections Slated For March
Bashkortostan's Central Election Commission passed a resolution scheduling the by-election of State Assembly deputies among the republic's three electoral districts for 27 March, Regnum reported on 5 January. Residents of the Ufa Inorsovskii electoral district should elect a deputy to replace Ufa Motor-Building Plant General Director Valerii Lesunov, who died in December. In the capital's Zheleznodorozhnyi and Davlekanovo Raion's Aslykul electoral districts, vacancies will be filled that were left open by the departures of Nikolai Protasov, former head of Kuibyshev Railways in Bashkortostan, and Khemit Mewliyerov, former general director of Bashkortostanneftezavodstroi construction company, respectively. Both were appointed to executive-authority posts and cannot remain in the legislature under republican law.

Bashkir Interior Ministry Denies Allegations By Human Rights Activists
Bashkir Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov told Regnum on 6 January that none of what human rights activists have alleged over a raid in Blagoveshchensk on 10-14 December is true, adding that such groups have "inflated" events (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3 and 6 January 2005). He singled out statements by the For Human Rights movement's coordinator in Bashkortostan, Vyacheslav Bikbulatov, and branch head Ildar Isengulov. Sherefetdinov charged that those two men's statements cast doubt on their competence. Sherefetdinov said that 280 people were administratively detained during the authorities' crackdown that followed 8 December violence against security forces. Most of those detained were cited for disturbing the peace or public drunkenness, he added.

Regnum reported on 6 January that five employees of the Russian Interior Ministry arrived in Bashkortostan on 5 January to join a special commission investigating allegations that Blagoveshchensk security officials exceeded their authority during the raid.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova