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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 4, 2005

4 March 2005
Long-Wave Broadcasts Of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service End
Tatarstan's state radio and television station is officially halting the long-wave rebroadcast of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service programming, citing the formal liquidation of the station to transform it into a local affiliate of Russian state broadcaster VGTRK, RFE/RL reported from Kazan on 3 March. RFE/RL has been broadcasting over long waves in Tatarstan since 1997. FM and satellite broadcasts of RFE/RL programming will continue across the republic via Tatarstan-Yanga Gasyr radio and television.

Daily Cites Worries Among Tatar Elite
According to "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" on 3 March, President Vladimir Putin's administration recently began getting rid of regional elites established under President Boris Yeltsin's administration. Referring to its correspondents in Tatarstan, the daily emphasized that the ethnic (Tatar) elites in that republic are "very wary" of the "possibility of seeing its present leader replaced by a Russian presidential-staff appointee."

Weekly Marks Success Of Kazan Aircraft Plant
In an article on Russia's aircraft industry, the "Ekspert" weekly predicted that a future federal enterprise will include the Ircut, MiG, Sukhoi, Tupolev, and Ilyushin aircraft manufacturers. The weekly also suggested that the Kazan Aircraft Plant (KAPO imeni Gorbunova) is considered the most successful of roughly 20 aircraft plants and construction bureaus existing in Russia.

Residents Are Spending More On Medication
Tatarstan residents consumed an average of roughly 1,284 rubles' ($46) worth of pharmaceuticals in 2004, which is higher than the Russian average of $42, Deputy Health Minister Rustem Safiullin told a meeting at his ministry on 3 March, Intertat reported the same day. The amount represents a 22 percent year-on-year increase. Republican ministry figures suggest a sizable gap between drug spending in urban versus rural regions, with rural residents spending roughly one-fifth of what their city-dwelling counterparts do.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Human Right Commission Presents Report On Blagoveshchensk Events...
Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseeva presented in Moscow on 3 March a report by an independent human rights commission on the December police raid in Blagoveshchensk (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 21 January 2005), an RFE/RL Moscow correspondent and "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 3 and 4 March, respectively. Human rights activists interviewed 123 raid victims, all of whom were detained by people in masks, taken to a local Interior Ministry office, and beaten. In the report, the raid is described as "a mass intimidation action that affected one in 40 residents of Blagoveshchensk Raion." Alekseeva said she will personally give the report to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Blagoveshchensk incident is scheduled to be on the agenda of a State Duma session on 9 March.

...As Policemen Plan Demonstrations
Meanwhile, Blagoveshchensk Interior Ministry officers said the suspects in attacks on policemen in Blagoveshchensk now under investigation are pressuring investigators and "using mass media outlets as an instrument to affect public opinion, thus hindering an objective investigation," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 4 March. Blagoveshchensk Interior Ministry officers have set up a trade union "as a response to humiliation," trade union head Ensign Yekaterina Vitalina told the daily, adding that local ministry employees have appealed to Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev and Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov "to bring to responsibility prosecutors who did not properly supervise actions by policemen" and "to forbid investigators to put moral pressure on victims and force them to write appeals to file lawsuits." Vitalina said if the demands are ignored, union members will picket buildings of the republic's prosecutor's office and Supreme Court during their free time. Bashkir Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov said the law does not permit the establishment of a trade union by certified Interior Ministry officers, only by civilian employees.

Rakhimov Meets With Gazprom Official
Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov met on 3 March with a Gazprom delegation headed by Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Ananenkov, Bashinform reported the same day, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. They discussed the implementation of programs for reconstruction and ensuring the stable operation of the gas transportation system and increasing reliability of gas pipelines on Bashkortostan's territory.

Polief Price Goes Up
The Federal Property Fund has moved the date of a tender on the Polief chemical plant from 11 May to 18 April and raised the minimum bid from 1.6 billion rubles ($57.8 million) to 2.2 billion rubles, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 3 March. An unidentified source in the Bashkir branch of the Federal Property Fund told the daily that Moscow considered the minimum bid price unacceptably low. The tender originally slated for May was set by a memorandum signed by Bashkir Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov and Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref in Moscow on 29 December (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 24 January 2005). "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" quoted an unidentified source in the Bashkir government as saying LUKoil will likely purchase the plant. The source added that "LUKoil may purchase Polief in cooperation with some other company, for example, Gazprom." Bashkir presidential press-service head Rostislav Murzagulov said that the republic's leadership is sure that the Blagoveshchensk-based company "will soon be sold to a serious company or a group of companies."

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova