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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 19, 2005

19 April 2005
Progress On New Power-Sharing Treaty Between Kazan and Moscow
The draft of a new power-sharing treaty between the Russian federal government and the government of the republic of Tatarstan is likely to be offered to the republic's State Council this month for consideration, parliamentary speaker Farid Mukhametshin told Tatar-inform on 15 April. Mukhametshin co-chairs the working group in charge of drafting the document, which is to replace the power-sharing treaty signed in 1994 but suspended by the government of Vladimir Putin in 2000. The other co-chair of the working group is the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga federal district, Sergei Kirienko.

The chairman of Tatarstan's parliament has said that republican and federal representatives within the working group are divided over legal issues including the official status of the Tatar language. Parliamentary speaker Mukhametshin said Tatar legislators so far have rejected the definitions of the status of the Tatar language proposed by the federal legislators. He also said there is currently a "stall" in negotiations as federal prosecutors resume questioning the legality of the requirement that a candidate for Tatar president know the Tatar language.

Since 1994, the treaty has been the major instrument regulating Tatarstan's relations with the federal government.

WBRD Official Inspects Kazan Tourist Facilities To Verify Its Readiness For Millennium Anniversary
Christer Carlsson, head of annual meetings and event management at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), arrived in Kazan on 18 April to inspect the city's tourism facilities for its millennium anniversary celebrations in August 2005, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. During the visit, Carlsson reportedly scheduled a meeting with acting Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov and Minister of Trade Khafiz Salikhov.

Murder Rate Doubles In Kazan
The number of murders registered in Tatarstan's capital Kazan in the first three months of 2005 is double the figure for the same period in 2004, Tatar-inform reported on 18 April. Most of the newly registered murders were domestic violence committed under the influence of alcohol.

Apart from murders, the overall crime rate dropped slightly during the same period in Kazan. During the first quarter of 2005, a total of 5,104 crimes were registered in Kazan. That is 4 percent less than the crime rate in early 2004.

Cuban Sportsman Wins Tatar Wrestling Championship
Cuban wrestler Revera Alfino has defeated German rival Kalina Ingolf in the final rounds of international competition in "Koeresh" Tatar national belt wrestling, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 19 April. The tournament last weekend in Moscow was joined by wrestlers from Tatarstan Republic, who took prizes in weight categories from 66 to 90 kilograms. A total of 165 wrestlers from all over the world took part in the contest.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Minister Divaev Ready To Go To Blagoveshchensk Trial As Witness
Bashkir Interior Minister Rafail Divaev told a press conference on 18 April in Ufa that he is ready to testify in court regarding the December raid by Interior Ministry special troops in Blagoveshchensk (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 29 and 30 December 2004 and 3, 6, 7, 10-14 and 17-20 January 2005), RosBalt reported the same day. Divaev said he "has his own position on this issue" and that "the court has to assess everything that occurred in Blagoveshchensk." However, he did not say whether the Bashkir Interior Ministry leadership would appeal to the court for leniency for its prosecuted employees or would demand they get the most severe punishment. Over 340 Blagoveshchensk residents are recognized as victims of the December raid. Eight Interior Ministry employees have been charged by the Bashkortostan's Prosecutor's Office with exceeding their authority in the raid and two more Interior officials have been charged with forgery and concealing the true size of the incident.

Meanwhile, human rights leaders say that Interior Minister Divaev, who personally issued the order for the December raid, should be punished for its results. Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General in the Volga Federal District Sergei Gerasimov has appealed to Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, saying Divaev must take responsibility for the events in Blagoveshchensk.

Date Set for Local Elections
Elections of local municipal bodies in Bashkortostan are scheduled for 26 June, RosBalt reported on 15 April, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. Elections will be held for 104 municipal bodies formed in Bashkortostan under the federal law setting forth procedures for local self-government. In a 27 March referendum, over 80 percent of the republic's residents backed creating a two-level system of local government including election of heads of local councils and heads of local administrations. During the past 13 years, city mayors and heads of local administrations were appointed by the republic's president.

Four Banks Merge With UralSib
Shareholders of the UralSib bank, the Bryansk People's Bank, Kuzbassugolbank, the Moscow-based Investment-Bank Group Nikoil, and Avtobank Nikoil agreed at their meeting in Ufa on 14 April to merge with the UralSib bank, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 16 April. The process of the merger is to be completed by September. As a result of the reorganization, the capital of the united bank will total over 20 billion rubles ($717 million) while its net assets will exceed 120 billion rubles. The Bryansk People's Bank, Kuzbassugolbank, the Investment-Bank Group Nikoil and Avtobank-Nikoil are affiliates of the Finance Company Nikoil.

Bashkortostan's government possesses 19.9 percent of UralSib.

VympelKom To Invest 700 Million Rubles In Bashkortostan
The VympelKom company, the operator mobile communication network BeeLine, plans to increase its investments in Bashkortostan in 2005 by 20 percent to 600-700 million rubles, VympelKom's Ufa branch Director Vladimir Orlov told a press conference on 15 April, RosBalt reported the same day. The zone covered by the company's network will increase from the current 87 percent to 100 percent of Bashkortostan's populated territory, while the number of subscribers is planned to grow from 500,000 to 750,000. The previous year, VympelKom invested 500 million rubles in the republic, while the number of subscribers almost tripled from 153,000 in January 2004 to 509,000 in April 2005. VympelKom is Bashkortostan's second-largest cellular communications company following MTS.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova