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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 22, 2005

22 April 2005
Microsoft To Offer Tatar Windows Interface
Olga Dergunova, head of Microsoft Russia and CIS, met with Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov on 21 April to resume talks on a long-term bilateral cooperation agreement in the field of information technologies, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported the same day. The agreement will provide for comprehensive cooperation between the IT company and the Tatar government, including creation of a Tatar interface for the Windows operating system and creating a governmental information system.

Dergunova told reporters after the meeting that she believes the new software product will be successful on the market. She cited the example of the Russian language pack for the operating system, which currently is installed in 97 percent of all official copies of Windows in Russia. She said, "The use of Tatar language in software products is a question of evolution, including the evolution of needs."

Federal Official Inspects Preparations For Kazan Millennium
Alksandr Abramov, the Russian presidential assistant for celebrations, arrived in Kazan on 21 April to inspect preparations for the Kazan Millennium nniversary celebrations set for August 2005. Later that day, he joined a meeting of federal and republican officials that discussed holding a Russian Presidential horse race championship in the context of the Millennium celebrations.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Interior Employees File Defamation Suit Against Opposition Newspaper
The special troops detachment (OMON) of the Bashkortostan Interior Ministry and Interior General Anatolii Smirnov have filed defamation suits against the republic's opposition newspaper "Otechestvo," Regnum reported on 21 April. The plaintiffs demand that information published in the newspaper's 21 January article titled "Blagoveshchensk: the Chronicle of a Human-Rights Investigation" be retracted and that 2 million rubles be paid them in compensation. The first hearing in the case is slated for 27 April.

The newspaper article focused on the December Interior Ministry raid in Blagoveshchensk. The operation, which involved 17 members of OMON, resulted in mass violations of the rights of Blagoveshchensk residents, 341 of whom are recognized as victims of the use of illegal force. Smirnov, the Bashkir deputy interior minister who supervised the Blagoveshchensk raid, was later dismissed from his post.

"Otechestvo" Editor in Chief Sergei Kuznetsov denied charges that the article included exaggerations. "Otechestvo" was founded by the Rus opposition movement in 1993. It's 200,000 copies are distributed free of charge in Bashkortostan.

Opposition Says Members of Extremist Group Support President Rakhimov
The leaders of Bashkortostan's united opposition, Ramil Bignov and Anatolii Dubovskii, released a statement on 21 April saying that militants of the Grey Wolves extremist group took part in the 16 April meeting in Ufa to support Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov, reported on 21 April. The opposition leaders brought to Moscow videotapes of mass disturbances they said were initiated by the group's members at the meeting. Dubovskii said the militants were dressed in armored garments and carried clubs. He said they also had emblems with stylized swastikas and green flags of the international terrorist organization Grey Wolves. Opposition leaders said they hope federal authorities will help them provide security at the next meeting of the opposition on 1 May.

Bashkir Deputy Appeals To Strasbourg To Promote Gay Marriages
Bashkir State Assembly Deputy Edvard Murzin appealed on 21 April to the European Human Rights Court against Russian legislation prohibiting same-sex marriages, reported the same day. Murzin commented that he hopes to win the suit so as "to make our society more tolerant." In January, Murzin and the editor in chief of the gay magazine "Queer," Edvard Mishin, were refused registration of their marriage. On 14 April, Murzin's appeal was rejected by the Moscow City Court (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 15 April 2005).

Advertising Companies Contest Restrictions On Street Ads
The Bashkir Constitutional Court on 21 April began hearing a case on a lawsuit by the republic's Association of Professional Participants in the Advertising Market against the Ufa city council, RosBalt reported the same day. The association contests new rules governing the display of advertising which were passed by the Ufa council on 24 March. The new rules forbid street-side billboard advertisements for alcohol and cigarettes. They also require that other ads be displayed parallel to -- not perpendicularly to -- streets and be set back at least 50 meters. Legislators say the move is intended to reduce the number of accidents but advertising agencies argue that the decision may result in big losses for them and for the city budget. The agencies say the ads also could lead to bankruptcy for Ufa's some 100 advertising companies, which employ a total of some 5,000 people.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova