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Tatar-Bashkir Report: April 26, 2005

26 April 2005
Tatarstan's Politicians Differ In Evaluating Putin's Annual Address
Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev described Russian President Vladimir Putin's message from his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly on 25 April as "right-centrist," "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 April. "But when Unified Russia's policy platform was passed, I said we are a right-centrist people by spirit. Today this has been welcomed and has been brilliantly corroborated," Shaimiev said. Meanwhile, State Duma Deputy Speaker (Unified Russia) Oleg Morozov, who represents Tatarstan in the Russian parliament's lower chamber, told on 25 April that in his address Putin did not give any hint of a right-liberal deviation that some say is taking place in Russia.

Tatarstan-Based Defense Companies Fill Orders
Kazan Helicopter Plant General Director Aleksandr Lavrentev said production of the second model of the MI-38 helicopter will be launched this year, "Kommersant-Volga-Urals" reported on 26 April. The pilot model of the aircraft has passed its flight test. The plant plans to have the model certified in 2007 and to begin serial production of helicopters in 2008. Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed a resolution for the serial production of the Tu-334 aircraft at the Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant, the Russian government's press service reported on 20 April. Tatarstan will help finance the project in 2005-2006. Yeshel Uzen Gorkii Plant General Director Sergei Ilin said the plant will complete production of its second frigate in 2007, Tatar-inform reported. The frigate ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry for the Caspian fleet will be called "Daghestan." The first ship of this kind, called "Tatarstan," was handed over to the Caspian Sea fleet on 30 August 2003.

Tuqai Premium Laureates Nominated
Writer Rostem Mingelim, composer Shamil Sherifullin, and artist Zofer Gimaev were awarded Tatarstan's state Tuqai prize for 2005, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported on 25 April. The premium, established in 1958 for outstanding achievements in literature and art, is worth some 300,000 rubles ($10,800).

Picket Near Prosecutor-General's Office Protests Violations Of Muslims' Rights
About 10 people staged a picket in front of the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office building in Moscow on 22 April to protest persecution against Muslims, an RFE/RL Moscow correspondent reported on 23 April. Placards such as "Stop persecution against Tatars and Muslims," "Freedom of speech," "Release Mansur Shengereev," and "Empire, do not trifle with Islam," were seen at the demonstration, which was organized by the Watan party. Picketers rejected requests by policemen not to hold the protest near the Prosecutor-General's Office. Council of Muftis of Russia Co-Chairman Ismail Shengereev, brother of Mansur Shengereev, who was arrested and is being detained in Astrakhan for allegedly having links to the Hizb ut-Tahrir extremist organization, told RFE/RL that the Haq (Justice) organization does not defend Muslims' rights but only seeks to maintain a good image with the authorities. Shengereev said he was one of the organizers of Haq -- which was established one year ago to protect the rights and interests of Muslims -- but Haq leader Kamilzhan Kalandarov "turned away" from him after his brother's arrest. Human rights leaders have repeatedly protested what they allege is repression against Muslims under the pretext of fighting Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova

Bashkortostan Opens Trade Representation In Turkey
A Bashkir government delegation led by Prime Minister Rafael Baidavletov was in Turkey on 22-23 April and will open a trade and economic representation in Istanbul, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reported. Speaking at a meeting between Bashkir and Turkish businessmen on 23 April, Turkish-Russian Business Council Chairman Turgut Gur said that the $50 million bilateral trade turnover between Bashkortostan and Turkey does not correspond to both sides' potential, RosBalt reported on 25 April, citing the Bashkir presidential press service. The representation will be headed by Bashkortostan's former trade representative to Turkey, Kanshubii Miziev. Turkish State Minister Kursad Tuzmen commented that "opening [Bashkortostan's] representation to Turkey will contribute to increasing bilateral trade turnover." Prime Minister Baidavletov and Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler signed a bilateral agreement on trade, economic, scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation.

Bashkir Interior Ministry Increases Antiterrorism Efforts
Bashkortostan's Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Sherefetdinov released a statement on 25 April saying the ministry leadership has appealed to republican authorities recommending they reduce to a minimum political activity in the region on 1-9 May, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 25 April. Sherefetdinov said republican law-enforcement agencies have increased their efforts as part of the antiterrorism operation scheduled for the period till 15 May "because of a high risk of acts of terrorism." Sherefetdinov added that the initiative comes not from the Bashkir ministry but similar measures are being taken across Russia. Bashkortostan's opposition believes the measures are aimed at preventing an opposition demonstration in Ufa on 1 May.

Motherland Leader Visits Ufa
Motherland leader Dmitrii Rogozin told reporters on 22 April in Ufa that his party can help Bashkortostan improve the political situation in the republic, by acting as an "active, efficient, quite firm, and thoughtful opposition," an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 25 April. Rogozin said he made such proposals to Bashkir President Murtaza Rakhimov during their closed-door meeting the same day. Rogozin said he plans to meet the Russian president next week and inform him about what he "saw and heard" in the region. Rogozin added that he would like to weigh the arguments of the republic's leadership and members of the opposition in order to "probably take the side of one of them." "We would not like protest sentiments in the region to take the shape of ethnic clashes," he said, adding, "Opposition becomes extremist when authorities stop hearing it." He also met with Central Muslim Spiritual Directorate Chairman Telget Tajetdin.

Prosecutor Dissatisfied With Delay Of Trial On Fake Ballots Case
Bashkortostan prosecutor Aleksandr Konovalov told reporters on 22 April that the trial of the case involving the printing of fake ballots during the December 2003 Bashkir presidential elections is being delayed for no reason, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 25 April. Konovalov said the prosecutor's office has repeatedly complained about the illegal delay of the trial by Ufa's Kirov court. "We have already appealed to the Bashkir Judges Qualification Board and the regional Justice Ministry to secure a hearing of the case," he said. The criminal case was filed after a print run of between 100,000 and 800,000 fake ballots was found on 4 December 2003 in the Ufa printing house controlled by the Bashkir presidential administration. Printing house director Marat Weliev was accused of printing fake ballots. In the wake of the incident, then deputy republican prosecutor Aleksandr Korostelev said the print run was ordered by Bashkir presidential-administration head Radii Khebirov. Materials on the case were sent to the Kirov court more than a year ago.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasano