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Tatar-Bashkir Report: February 9, 2005


9 February 2005
DAILY REVIEW FROM TATARSTAN
KamAZ, Kazakh Companies Set Up Joint Bus Venture
KamAZ and Kazakhstan's Astana-Finans and TsATEK have set up a joint venture, Neobus, in Kokshetau to produce buses, RBK and Tatar-inform reported on 8 February. The venture is part of the Kazakhstan-KamAZ consortium, which is planning to arrange the assembly of up to 1,200 KamAZ vehicles per year in Kazakhstan. The project was negotiated at a meeting between Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov, Kazakhstan-KamAZ President Kintal Islamov, and KamAZ General Director Sergei Kogogin.

The officials also discussed prospects for establishing Kazakhstan's own automobile production with the help of KamAZ. KamAZ increased its sales of vehicles to Kazakhstan by 40 percent, to 2,500 in 2004. Sixty-five thousand KamAZ trucks are in use in Kazakhstan, representing 57 percent of all trucks operating in the country.

Kazan City Deputies Elections Postponed Till Fall
Elections for the Kazan City Duma have been postponed until the fall, Tatar-inform reported on 8 February. The term of the current body expired in December but was prolonged due to the forthcoming 1,000th anniversary of Kazan, which is being celebrated in August.

Also, Kazan Soviet Raion administration head Albert Kamaleev has been appointed city election commission chairman.

Kazan Residents Protest Forced Removal From Homes
Some 50 people picketed the Kazan administration building on 8 February, RIA-Novosti reported the same day. The protesters are residents of houses in downtown Kazan that are due to be torn down under a city improvement project. The protesters expressed to Kazan's deputy mayor their unwillingness to move to newly constructed apartments in a Kazan suburb.

Protesters told the news agency they believe their houses have been identified for demolition illegally, adding that numerous buildings that had been evacuated were then passed to commercial firms.

The picketers said they are ready to pay for repairs to their houses so that they can continue to live in them.

Former Russian Guantanamo Prisoners Plan To Sue Top U.S. Officials
Chally resident Airat Wakhitov, a former prisoner at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is collecting documents in a bid to sue U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. President George W. Bush for what he believes was his illegal imprisonment, "Izvestia" reported on 4 February.

Wakhitov said he lost 30 kilograms during the first months of his detention. He alleges that prisoners were awakened every 15 minutes during the night and moved to other cells. He says they were forced to strip naked during prayers and that guards tore up their Qurans or threw them into chamber pots. Wakhitov alleges detainees were also injected with unknown substances that caused damage to their livers.

On 28 February 2004, seven Russian citizens were extradited from Guantanamo Bay to Russia and were kept in pre-trial detention in Pyatigorsk until June, when charges against them were dropped and they were released. None of the former Guantanamo prisoners has so far found a job. Wakhitov said companies are afraid to hire him.

Two more Guantanamo prisoners from Russia, Rawil Gomerov and Timur Ishmoradov, say they also plan to sue American officials, the daily reported.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

DAILY REVIEW FROM BASHKORTOSTAN
Bashkir Police Officials Responsible For Blagoveshchensk Incident Reprimanded...
Russia's Interior Ministry officially confirmed on 8 February that citizens' constitutional rights were violated by the Bashkir police in Blagoveshchensk, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004, 3, 6, 7, 10-14, 17-21, and 24 January 2005). As punishment, Blagoveshchensk public security police department head and the commander of the special-forces unit were demoted, while the head of Bashkortostan's special forces received a written reprimand. Blagoveshchensk prosecutor Shamil Ismagilov was sacked for attempting to influence the investigation of the case.

...As Russian Human Rights Representative Unable To Attend Parliamentary Hearings
State Assembly Chairman Konstantin Tolkachev told Bashinform on 8 February that the Bashkir parliament is "unable to postpone its emergency session because the date of 10 February has already been approved and announced to all deputies." The statement came soon after the appeal of Russia's human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who asked the parliament to reschedule its session on the Blagoveshchensk incident, because on 10 February he was planning to meet with UN Human Rights Commissioner Luis Albur and European Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Hilles Robles. Lukin also called for inviting nongovernmental human right organizations to the hearings. Tolkachev reportedly confirmed that the State Assembly had invited Moscow Helsinki group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseeva and a representative of Russia's Interior Ministry.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi
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